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Hawaii Island Weather Update for December 21st, 2020

The HIRSC - Weather Team is beginning to monitor air quality related to the Halema'uma'u Crater eruption and will begin to provide daily updates on air quality around Hawaii Island.

Published by: HIRSC - Weather Team

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The HIRSC - Weather Team in conjunction with the HIRSC - Hawaii Island Team will begin to provide daily updates on air quality and visibility around the island, especially around the West Hawaii districts. All these measures and updates will be done to coincide with the eruption event at Halema'uma'u Crater that began Sunday evening (December 20th).


Initially, at 10:30 pm Sunday evening, the National Weather Service (NWS) - Honolulu Office issued an ash advisory for the Ka'ū District for the first time since May 2018, as the eruption and also evaporation of the lake at Halema'uma'u began produced a large ash plume billowing to high altitudes and trade winds carrying the plume to the southwest. However at 12:12 am Monday morning (December 21st), after further evaluation and monitoring, NWS later canceled the advisory after determining no ashfall was observed along the Ka'ū Coastline, downwind of Halema'uma'u Crater, and on Highway 11 (Volcano Highway). They believed the eruption was primarily comprised of steam.


HIRSC Team will be taking to two readings per day, once in the morning at 8:00 am and once in the afternoon at 2:00 pm, to give everyone an idea of how conditions can change through the course of the day. We will note down the air quality index, SO2 levels any recorded, visibility, and note any weather conditions at the time of reading.


Since the eruption began around 9:30 pm Sunday evening, HIRSC Team has recorded the following air quality numbers as 1:30 am Monday morning, as a baseline for the readings going forward:


Waikoloa: 10 (No levels of SO2 recorded) - visibility more than 10 miles (Partly Cloudy)

Kailua-Kona: 19 (No-levels of SO2 recorded) - visibility more than 10 miles (Cloudy)

Captain C 13 (No levels of SO2 recorded) - visibility more than 10 miles (Partly Cloudy)

Na'alehu: 13 (No levels of SO2 recorded) - visibility more than 10 miles (Clear)

Pahala: 16 (0.007 ppm of SO2 recorded) - visibility more than 10 miles (Clear)

Mountain View: 12 (0.002 of SO2 recorded) - visibility 5 miles (Cloudy with Scattered Showers and Fog)

Hilo: 17 (No levels of SO2 recorded) - visibility more than 10 miles (Partly Cloudy)


As a part of our coverage of air quality and visibility levels through the duration of the eruption, we will also be documenting the health effects of vog on residents (particularly a few of our HIRSC Team members) and also documenting the effects of vog on agriculture, gathering data from one of our very own HIRSC Team members farm located in Honaunau. We will be gathering baseline data beginning later Monday morning.


So stay tuned for those feature stories of eruption effects on health and agriculture coming in the near future, we plan on doing a post on both topics once a month as long as the eruption events are ongoing.

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