The lava flow entered the cemetery above Pahoa this morning and continues its advance at the rate of about approximately 10 yards an hour, generating “light to moderate” smoke.
“There appears to be an area of slightly steeper slope just below the cemetery and higher advance rates are possible if the flow reaches that point. ,” Hawaii Volcano Observatory reported this morning. HVO scientists estimated that the flow was approximately 150 yards wide, though the width varies with the terrain. Ironically, there was an unintentional man-made diversion of the flow, according to HVO: “The flow was deflected away from the steepest-descent line it had been generally following, and toward the cemetery, by an old man-made cane-field berm just above Apa?a Street. The flow is now advancing downslope between two intersecting steepest-descent paths and will likely return to the original steepest-descent path about 300 m (330 yd) upslope from P?hoa Village Rd.
The un-inundated portions Apa`a and Cemetery roads remain closed, though an ABC camera crew apparently entered the area illegally to obtain footage yesterday.
Civil Defense representatives are going door to door down-slope from the flow, issuing notices to evacuate within the next three to five days. Those with respiratory problems may wish to leave sooner.
Residents should note that the predicted path of the flow is just that: a prediction, as subject to change as a hurricane prediction. Lava does not always flow downhill like water; it can build its own dykes, melt its own channels, and sometimes cut its way down to lava tubes below the surface. Breakouts can also occur up-slope, so residents should not assume that the flow has passed them by.
HVO scientists are currently monitoring the flow front and will issue a status update this afternoon.