The New "Normal"

I know it has been a while since I posted anything, but that’s because we went on vacation ourselves.  The trip was already planned prior to Madam Pele’s latest activity, a cruise to Alaska, The Last Frontier!  Truthfully, I was hoping while we were away the activity at the summit would cease, the lava flow in the east rift zone would mellow out and we would find our new “normal” when we returned.  I really stayed disconnected for most of the trip, but every now and then I would hear a little something here or there and we were close enough to shore I got a little signal on my phone.  It all seemed to be the same kind of news I was hearing before we left. I spent the last couple of days trying to catch up on everything I missed while on vacation (you know how that goes right?)

The East Rift Zone in Leilani Estates continues to have an active eruption with changing vent locations, fissures starting and stopping and a fast-moving flow into the ocean.  The most active fissure, #8 shows no signs of stopping, and as it grows it may very well become the newest crater on the block.   Lava boat tours and helicopter tours provide an opportunity to see this new land being created.  As I have mentioned before, book early they are selling out fast!

Here at the summit of Kilauea, Halemau’mau continues to collapse as the lava recedes.  As the rocks fall into the crater, it can create blockages and when this happens explosions of steam and rock happen to release the pressure.  These explosions and earthquakes in turn have significantly damaged parts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s infrastructure.  Cracks in the viewing area at Jagger Museum and the surrounding roads, water pipes have burst and ash fall within the one mile radius around the crater remains pretty constant.  There are maintenance crews inside the park fixing what they can when they can.  The summit explosions show no signs of ceasing anytime soon. 

What does all this mean??  Even if the activity were to cease today, to make this portion of the park safe for visitors could take months, or a year or more!  Not being able to access this part of HVNP is the new “Normal” until further notice. The National Park Service is realizing this and starting to adjust as necessary which means we all need to as well.

Two-Thirds of the park has been closed since May 11, but the Kahuku Unit, located an hour south of the main entrance on Highway 11 near Mile Marker 70.5 is still open.  Hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 3 PM.  Keep in mind this part of the park can be affected by poor air quality if the summit explosions are big enough. The HVNP website has great links to monitor all this stuff which you should check out before going.  I promise one of these days I will write about our experience at this part of the park.

Park rangers are also helping visitors and the community to answer questions and talk about their first-hand knowledge at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM.  They are also here in Volcano Village at Volcano Art Center from 9 AM to 5 PM.

This is our new” NORMAL” so we all need to make the best of it. History is in the making and you can be a part of it, if you just show up and be open minded and flexible!! If you are holding onto your reservation with the hope the park will reopen before your cancelation period is up, I hope this makes it clear chances are it won’t.  Which means you need to adjust your thinking and take advantage of what you CAN see and do in Volcano and the surrounding areas!  I have written several other blogs about alternatives so give those a glance.


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