Hawaii volcano is a low risk to residents but travelers might experience significant delays

Lava from Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, continues to ooze towards a major highway on Hawaii’s Big Island, though officials are saying populated areas aren’t at risk. As of Thursday morning, the leading edge of lava flow from the volcano, which erupted for the first time in 38 years on Sunday night, is more than 3 miles from Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, and near 7,000 ft. elevation, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency.

Video Transcript

KEN HON: Because I think we're all aware and very aware now that Mauna Loa, the world's biggest active volcano, is erupting.

ERIK KLEMETTI: It's the first eruption of Mauna Loa for almost 39 years at this point. I don't think it was expected to happen right at this moment. Although, there have been signs that it was heading towards something new based on some of the earthquakes that they measure underneath the volcano. So there is the potential for lava flow hazards if the eruption continues and lava flows can make it that far down the slopes of the volcano. There is also some hazard from ash. I know that some airlines have delayed or canceled flights out of Hilo for ash hazard because you don't want ash to get into jet engines. That's a bad mix.

And then there's the hazard of volcanic gases to make what they call "vog," this volcanic fog that can be bad for your respiratory tract because it's got droplets of acid in it. So there's a number of hazards, nothing right now that would be life-threatening. But if the Civil Defense in Hawaii wants people to evacuate, they'll let people know, and you should follow their directions.