Toxic clouds over Hawaii as more eruptions continue

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Within the last 24 hours, lava has started flowing into the ocean, creating a plume of laze. (Source: CNN) Within the last 24 hours, lava has started flowing into the ocean, creating a plume of laze. (Source: CNN)
As the plumes shoot up into the atmosphere, they can cause catastrophic problems for jet airliners. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) As the plumes shoot up into the atmosphere, they can cause catastrophic problems for jet airliners. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The upper-levels clouds are moving east but the jet stream isn't strong enough to carry the toxic materials the 2,000 miles to the West Coast. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The upper-levels clouds are moving east but the jet stream isn't strong enough to carry the toxic materials the 2,000 miles to the West Coast. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
"The eruptions are producing fine ash particles that are basically falling on the village near the volcano," said David Williams. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) "The eruptions are producing fine ash particles that are basically falling on the village near the volcano," said David Williams. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The whole island chain of Hawaii is each its own individual volcano.

"The big island of Hawaii itself is a composite of five different volcanos," said David Williams, volcanologist for ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Two of those volcanos are considered active. One is Kilauea and hasn't stopped erupting since 1983.

"Volcanos are a natural way the earth gets rid of its internal heat. It's a natural function of our planet" said Williams.

For three weeks now we've watched incredible video of lava flows and explosive eruptions, creating the potential for ash booms.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Kilauea volcano launching 'lava bombs']

"The eruptions are producing fine ash particles that are basically falling on the village near the volcano," said Williams.

The clouds as they combined with the water droplets in the air are creating sulfur dioxide. And with all that sulfur dioxide in the air, another toxic problem has developed.

Within the last 24 hours, lava has started flowing into the ocean, creating a plume of laze.

[VIDEO: New threat from Kilauea - volcanic toxic haze]

[RELATED: More eruptions from Kilauea are possible, but laze and lava are the biggest hazards right now]

The problems aren’t just at the ground level. As those plumes shoot up into the atmosphere, they can cause catastrophic problems for jet airliners. Also depending on the winds, the chemical clouds can be taken in any direction.

"So if we look at the visible satellite, you can see the low-level clouds are mostly getting pushed to the southwest because of the trade winds. The northeast winds are the norm. So it’s really taking it in this direction," said Ken Waters of the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

[RELATED: Summit of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupts, launching plume of ash and smoke]   

The upper-levels clouds are moving east but the jet stream isn't strong enough to carry the toxic materials the 2,000 miles to the West Coast.

"It would take quite a big eruption to have a major effect on our area," said Waters.

Kilauea’s eruptions are not as big as past ones, like Mt. Saint Helens in 1980 or the Icelandic one in 2010.

[RELATED: When Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted in 1959, it shot lava higher than the tallest building in America]

Right now, the smaller islands of Hawaii are getting most of the effects of the clouds, leading to a condition called "vog," or volcanic fog, which can be extremely hazardous for people’s lungs and eyes.

As for a timeline as to when the eruptions and lava flows might stop, scientist don't have one.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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