I got a call from C.J. at 11:50 PM on November 27, 2022. C.J. does not call me a lot at midnight. We had three earthquakes earlier and C.J. called to say that he believed that Mauna Loa had erupted. I ran outside and looked at the sky. It looked very similar to the photo in this blog with the palm trees in the photo…a very unnerving, scary and amazing sight. C.J. was at my house fifteen minutes later and we were off to photograph the eruption event of a lifetime…and have not stopped. Linda, C.J. and I have been on this event most hours of the day for days now…and we are all pretty worn out. As I write this, early in the morning on December 2, C.J. is in a small plane circling the summit…and I can not wait to see his photos.
The three photos above are just some starter photos I had handy for this blog. I will do a new blog soon that will feature the shots from C.J and Linda.
As for the eruption itself…this is an absolute must see if you are a lava or volcano fan. My recommendation is that you not wait…Mauna Loa eruptions pump out huge volumes of lava and sometimes come to a full stop quickly. This one is going at full speed, but the future of it is unclear. Sooner is better than later.
The island is normal with a few exceptions. VOG or the smoke/gas/particles in the air from the eruption is an issue for some. However, the winds have been kind to us here in Kona so far, but that can change and some people have real health problems when the Vog is heavy. Traffic at the site is chaotic during normal people hours. C.J., Linda and I are not normal people and we are there when others are sleeping…we can tell you how to best approach the site to cut down on traffic problems and to be safe. It is not currently a safety issue for any of us…we are all viewing it from a distance. As this eruption goes along and the press stops trying to make this look scary to one and all, we expect tourism to pick up and hotel rooms to become scarce…and they normally are scarce this time of year under normal circumstances. So…act fast if you want a room and car. Helicopters are still available, but you will have a hard time booking one at sunset or sunrise or with the doors off…those are taken by the press and photographers at the moment. If you come, bring a winter coat and a flashlight. Some of the best viewing is part way up Mauna Kea…and that can be 8000 feet or higher…with snow likely on the summit.
The location of the eruption is the easiest to get to ever. it is about an hours drive from Kona…and you can see the glow of it from Kona. Visitors tell us they saw the glow in the sky from their planes as they arrived on island. You go up over the Saddle Road…the road that goes through the middle of the island connecting Hilo and Kona…and about half way across that road, look to the right and there is the eruption. The county is setting up a viewing area and seeing it from there or elsewhere may involve some traffic, but the rest of it is easy.
The eruption itself is at the summit of 13,000 plus feet Mauna Loa…the mountain that does not have all the observatories on the top. It is shooting a long line of fountains hundreds of feet into the air. The lava has filled up that part of the crater and is overflowing down the side of the mountain…to the left of the summit as you view it from Saddle Road. At this writing, those rivers of lava have come to within a few miles of the Saddle Road and are expected to cross the road in the next week…which will cause lots of problems for those of us who live here. That road is the commercial road that connects Kona and Hilo…most of our consumer goods come over the mountains from Hilo…on that road. There are other roads, but the Saddle Road is by far the fastest. The front of the lava flow was about 20 feet high at one point…this is a massive flow. The eruption has showed no sign of slowing.
If you need info, you can text me at 808 9388383 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just know that I may take a bit of time to get back to you…normally no more than a few hours. More to come in the next day or two and I will keep you posted.
Aloha and happy holidays ahead.
Don Hurzeler for C.J. Kale, Linda Hurzeler and Lava Light Galleries, Inc
PS…just to show how chaotic things are at the moment…CJ just called me to let me know he got cancelled out of his flight this morning and will go in a few days…ouch!