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The leading front of molten pahoehoe dramatically burned its way through the last piece of kipuka vegetation and poured spectacularly over a small pali at 6:20 AM this morning.
This lava flow will be touching the ocean water in one or two locations by early afternoon today. The location of the flow is amazingly convenient to public viewing should Civil Defense deem it safe enough in the days ahead. I say convenient because this flow has not severed any of the entire length of the old coastal viewing area trail or the gathering spot we had watched the Waikupanaha flow from for the past two years; until it ceased on January 3rd this year. Molten lava more or less parallels the original April 2008 to January 2010 trail all the way to the sea but does get as close as three hundred feet from the trail near the coastal end of it; where it is still active and spreading slowly. The land there tends to slope away from the trail so it might be spared, allowing for public access soon.
The lava flow front lies directly below the pali on the edge of old viewing site and will enter the ocean close by to the southwest today. It broke out of the forest this morning west of the old site about two hundred feet away. If the access trail survives, the original viewing site will be an ideal vantage point for the public to safely view the new ocean entries; at least as long as they last. This is a strong flow and may hang in there for some time.
Last night 13,012 people came down to the end of highway 130 and took the short walk out to the present designated viewing area and witnessed acres of mostly cooling pahoehoe. They gasped in excitement when the lava broke out yellow-orange and red; oozing into new formations. Hot lava was as close as fifty feet away and could be seen on three sides of that viewing area.
Lava Viewing Summary:
Depending on what changes Hawaii Civil Defense makes to the viewing access at the end of highway 130, I would think this would be the best show on the Big Island again… That said, I doubt they will open the old trail to the coast until the paralleling lava stops spreading nearby to the trail. But there continues to be good viewing of hot lava right from the currently chosen viewing spot; we should have a much better idea by tonight.