Hawaii: Lava from Manua Loa volcano threatens to engulf road

saddle road hawaii

Saddle Road could become impassable due to lava in the next few days (Image: AP)

Cities in Hawaii could be cut off if lava from Mauna Loa volcano continues to spread.

The outbreak has given the city of Hilo a surprise tourism boom during a quiet time of the year.

Hotels in and around Mauna Loa are booked up, while helicopter tours are seeing a dramatic increase in sales.

But locals are now bracing for the worst.

There are fears that the city could be divided and areas “cut off” due to lava overflow.

Molten rock could make Saddle Road impassable, forcing drivers to find other routes between the north and south of the island.

“I’m very nervous that it will be cut off,” said Frank Manley, a licensed practical nurse.

If the road is closed, he has to drive two and a half to three hours in each direction.


Visitor numbers to the island have increased since the volcanic eruption (Image: AP)


Drivers worried about how to access essential services when the road is blocked (Image: AP)

The lava is moving at a speed that means it could hit the road early next week, but its path could change.

On Friday, scientists with the US Geological Survey said the slow-moving current was about 2.7 miles from the strait.

The state Department of Transport has already taken steps to remove potential traffic delays on the northern coastal route by reopening a lane over the Nanue Bridge, which has been closed for repairs.

If Mauna Loa follows historical patterns, the eruption is expected to last one to two weeks.

Hawaii volcano

Cars wait in traffic along Saddle Road, with occupants waiting to see Mauna Loa volcano (Image AP)

Lava Hawaii

Lava started erupting in late November (Image: AP)

Hawaiian Democrats Ed Case and Kaiali’i Kahele sent a letter to President Joe Biden warning that Hawaii County would need “immediate assistance” to protect island communities if a lava flow blocks the highway.

Limited access could affect one of the island’s largest hospitals, located on the east side.

Hawaii County Councilwoman Susan ‘Sue’ LK Lee Loy, who represents Hilo and parts of Puna, said she is concerned about large trucks going over aging coastal bridges.

“It’s going to take some rethinking of how we move around the island of Hawaii,” she said.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/12/03/hawaii-manua-loa-volcano-lava-threatens-to-swallow-up-road-17873408/ Hawaii: Lava from Manua Loa volcano threatens to engulf road

Justin Scacco

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