Volcanoes can “make their own weather,” according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) — and the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii is doing just that. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists have observed what are called pyrocumulus clouds, which could possibly cause thunderstorms, over the fissure system in Leilani Estates.
Did you know that volcanoes can make their own weather? #HVO scientists are beginning to observe "pyrocumulus" clouds…
Pyrocumulus clouds, or flammagenitus clouds or fire clouds, are often caused by fires. Digging into the science behind the clouds above Kilauea, USGS said they form “when intense heating of the air from the ground induces convection, which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, usually in the presence of moisture (which condenses and forms the cloud).”
USGS shared a photograph on Facebook of a pyrocumulus cloud above Kilauea’s Fissure 8, and said there was another such cloud above the volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone. That cloud rose up to an estimated 3.7 miles, and they said it was described as “tightly roiling and set apart from other stratus clouds.”
In a recent status update, USGS said Fissure 8 fountained as high as 200 feet into the air. Volcanic gas emissions from Kilauea are still high due to fissure eruptions. Since trade winds could return in upcoming days, vog — or smog with volcanic dust and gases — could impact the southern and western sides of the Big Island.
— USGS (@USGS) May 30, 2018
The USGS also said Pele’s hair — threads of volcanic glass named after the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes — “and other lightweight volcanic glass from high fountaining of Fissure 8 are being transported downwind and falling to the west of the fissure…Residents are urged to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash.”
Image via U.S. Geological Survey