Lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii advanced several hundred yards over the weekend, and authorities are now warning nearby residents to be prepared to evacuate as soon as Tuesday.
CBS News reported
that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the lava had advanced roughly 250 yards since Saturday morning, but fluctuations in the flow rate made it tough to say when it will become a danger to Pahoa, the largest town in Puna. Residents in the immediate path are mostly rural.
The lava flow stems from the Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continuously since 1983, according to The Associated Press
. Normally the flow moves south, however over the last two years it's moved to the northeast. The current flow has been creeping down the hillside since June.
So far, it has damaged a Buddhist cemetery, covering gravesites.
The next item in its likely path, a home, is at least 300 yards away, said Darryl Oliveira, director of civil defense for Hawaii County. He estimated that there are 50 to 60 homes and businesses that could be affected by the molten hot magma.
Methane gas bursts generated by decomposing vegetation have at times accompanied the lava flow, which can be nerve-wracking to nearby observers.
"At the time that it happened, it was such a rumble I thought it was thunder and that we were about to be struck by lightning," said Janet Babb, a geologist and spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Authorities are going door-to-door to inform residents of the flow, and the Red Cross said it is opening a shelter for those who are displaced.
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