This weekend Hurricane Lane (later downgraded to Tropical Storm Lane) collided with another natural disaster on the Big Island of Hawaii when the storm dropped over two feet of rain on the island, including Kilauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone. The result was a rare steam white-out, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
While the eruption of lava from fissures in the rift zone has calmed in recent weeks, it laid down hundreds of millions of cubic meters of lava over the course of about three months and much of that material is still hot enough to boil water.
Steam created from #HurricaneLane rain falling on still hot rocks has created white-out conditions in #Kilauea‘s #LERZ. #Seismicity & ground #deformation still negligible at summit & ERZ. Read more in today’s update: https://t.co/7sDZqcOJ5s
— USGS Volcanoes (@USGSVolcanoes) August 27, 2018
Earthquakes at the summit of Kilauea that happened regularly for several weeks have subsided in August and lava was slowly oozing into the ocean in just a few spots as Lane arrived.
Unfounded rumors that the deluge of rain from the storm could have completely “extinguished” the state’s highly active volcanoes did not come to pass. In fact, the clouds of steam from rain interacting with still-hot lava rocks were the only significant effect Lane had on the eruption, aside from a few minor rock falls at the summit.
Meanwhile, the rains left Hawaii under a flash flood watch and turned normally small streams into powerful torrents.
The USGS will be flying over the lower East Rift Zone for a closer look on Monday.