Tag Archives: Mauna Loa

View of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa

A View of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa from Kohala Mountain Road in hawaii

There’s still a bit of snow on top of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Every time it looks like it’s going to disappear, a new dusting bolsters the coverage.

This view is from Kohala Mountain Road. The dark strip snaking through the center of the photo is housing alongside Kawaihae Road, which goes down to the coast. These houses are part of the town of Waimea, which sits in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Kohala Mountain. This part of Waimea is known as the dryside because it receives significantly less rainfall than areas on the east side of the saddle, which is known, correctly, as the wetside.

Road closed

The spot where the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption crossed the road to the observatory
The spot where the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption crossed the road to the observatory

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Roads, Paths, and Streets.’ See more responses here.

After a recent hike off Saddle Road, I had time to take a drive up one of my favorite roads on the island, which leads to the Mauna Loa Observatory. Well, it used to; it doesn’t get there anymore. That’s because a flow from last fall’s eruption of Mauna Loa crossed the road a few miles short of its destination. I was curious to see what the scene looked like now.

The cloudy skies added some atmosphere to the drive which was, as always, a lot of fun. It’s a winding one lane road, so even though there’s little traffic, one has to pay attention. Any distraction could result in driving off the road into the inhospitable lava fields bordering it.

I confess, my secret hope was that, when I arrived at the flow, there would be a sign saying ‘Road Closed.’ Alas, that was not the case. Clearly, the Department of Transportation figured the seven foot high wall of lava conveyed the message well enough on its own. The only sign there warned against walking on the new flow. I didn’t need that warning. This is a’a lava which is really hard to walk on anyway, and in a new flow it could be quite unstable and even harbor pockets where one could fall through into still hot lava! Still, I’m sure some folks have clambered up there just because it’s there.

I took a few photos, then turned around and headed back down, not least because it was damp, windy and I was freezing, which is not why anyone comes to, or lives in, Hawaii.

The HISEAS dome on the slopes of Mauna Loa

On the drive down, I got a good view of the HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) dome. This is where teams of volunteers do research for what it would be like to be living on the Moon or Mars. I’m not sure if it’s in use since the COVID shutdown, but at least it survived the last eruption.

Clouds meet the and on the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in Hawaii

Farther down, the land seemed to be steaming, but in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the weather often seems to be part of the landscape.

The Mauna Loa Observatory Road on a cloudy afternoon

And the views, which change with every twist in the road, are strange and stunning and wonderful. It may not be possible currently to reach the end of the road, but it’s still a great drive.

Lenticular clouds

Lenticular clouds over the Big Island Hawaii

A couple of days ago, Big Island skies were graced by lenticular clouds. These kinds of clouds are uncommon in Hawaii, but strong winds blowing up against Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa created perfect conditions.

Lenticular clouds appear to hover in one spot, but while they don’t move, they can change shape constantly. These two clouds behaved quite differently. The one on the right retained its basic shape all day. The one on the left was constantly morphing from one shape to another. Alas, I only got these photos because I was working and to photograph the clouds without an array of wires in the foreground meant a walk down the road a ways.

These clouds look like they’re close to the ground, but they form in the troposphere, between 6,500 and 20,000 feet. By the end of the day, the cloud on the left was largely broken up and disappearing, but the one on the right was still going strong, albeit while becoming masked by lower level clouds.

Lenticular clouds over the Big Island Hawaii

Favorites from 2022

Surf crashes ashore on the North Kohala coast in Hawaii
January: High surf crashes ashore in North Kohala. (link)

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your 2022 Year-in-Review.’ See more responses here. Like last year, I’ve gone with a favorite photo from each month of 2021, with a caption and link to the post the photo first appeared in.

A Common Waxbill feeds on cane grass seeds
February: A Common Waxbill grabs a mouthful of seeds. (link)
A Monarch butterfly on purple bougainvillea flowers
March: A Monarch Butterfly on a bougainvillea. (link)
A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swims by
April: A Green Turtle swims by. (link)
Three cats resting in Hawaii
May: A trio of cats hard at work! (link)
A photo of an owl in a car wing mirror
June: How to keep birds off your car. (link)
A view of Green sand beach (Papakōlea) on the Big Island, Hawaii
July: The green sand beach near South Point. (link)
A white-tailed tropicbird flying over North Kohala, Hawaii
August: A White-tailed Tropicbird glides by. (link)
A Black-crowned night heron struggles o get out of an algae covered pond
September: A Black-crowned Night Heron struggles to get out of a pond. (link)
A Spinner dolphin leaps from the waters off Hawaii
October: A Spinner Dolphin leaps from the water off North Kohala. (link)
Two manta rays in the waters off Hawaii
November: A pair of Manta Rays swims toward me. (link)
A cloud forms over the site of the eruption on Mauna Loa , Hawaii
December: Mauna Loa erupted for the first time in 40 years, capturing attention and changing the weather. (link)

White Christmas in Hawaii

Snow on Mauna Kea at Christmas 2022

Season’s greetings to everyone. As one would expect, we’re having a white Christmas here on the Big Island. The storm of last week dumped a generous amount of snow on top of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and much of it is still around. It’s a lovely sight, especially when viewed from somewhere where the temperature is in the 70s or low 80s!

Cloud over Mauna Loa eruption

A cloud forms over the site of the eruption on Mauna Loa , Hawaii

On my way to work yesterday, I pulled over to photograph this view of Mauna Loa, early on day three of the current eruption. The heat and emissions from volcanic eruptions can create their own weather. Here, smoke and gasses from the most active vent can be seen rising up into a cloud over the northeast slope of the volcano.

Posted for Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge. See more responses here.

Mauna Loa erupts

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

Yesterday, my morning commute was enlivened by the sight of Mauna Loa erupting. The eruption started late Sunday night and the report I read, before leaving home, said the eruption was currently confined to the summit crater. That clearly wasn’t the case when I took these photos on the way to work. The quality isn’t great because they’re hand-held, but I think they illustrate the scene reasonably well.

In the top two photos, the red smoke is the glow of the lava, but the white/yellow bits are the lava itself. This was a flow moving down the slope of the volcano.

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

By the time I got to work, the sky was lightening but the lava still stood out. In the bottom photo, Mauna Kea is left center, with a stunning sunrise developing behind it. Mauna Loa is on the right and the activity can clearly be seen on the left (northeast) slope of the volcano, some way down from the summit.

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

When I got home, I read that three vents had opened on the northeast rift zone of the volcano, though only one was still active. Flows from Mauna Loa can reach the ocean in a matter of hours, depending on where they’re coming from and going to. This flow is currently heading towards the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, which is mostly a military training area and undeveloped land. The main current danger is from gasses and Pele’s hair, thin strands of brittle volcanic glass, being carried from the volcano to communities downwind. However, new vents could open farther down the rift, bringing lava closer to human habitation.

Changes in eruptions on Mauna Loa can happen pretty quickly so, as usual, the advice here is be prepared and keep tuned to updates on the situation.