Trades shoo Big Island vog
Tradewinds have dispersed a thick volcanic fog that bothered some Volcano residents during still conditions earlier this week.
Volcanic sulfur dioxide released from Kilauea created a haze or "vog" on Tuesday that kept kindergarten through second-grade students at Mountain View Elementary inside classrooms during recess, said Vice Principal Ken Watanabe. Third-graders were allowed outside because the vog improved during their break, he said.
Students and staff could still smell and even taste the fumes on Wednesday, but winds picked up overnight and the vog had dissipated by yesterday, Watanabe said.
"The breeze came in and blew it back towards the volcano area and helped clear the school," he said.
Air quality at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was "poor" on Wednesday, said Julie Williams, program coordinator at the Keakealani Outdoor Education Center, who took a group of students to the area during a field trip.
The Hilo center, which is run by the state Department of Education and sees about 1,500 students each year, did not need to turn on air purifiers that it uses about once every semester to prevent exposure to toxics in vog haze, which can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, she said.
The vog "spiked up to levels that should be concerning and then backed down to levels that were acceptable," said David Rizor, principal of Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, a 146-student public charter school located about a mile from Kilauea.
"Early in the morning there were students and staff coughing, but it eased up," he said.
Winds picked up late Wednesday because of a strengthening high-pressure system about 500 miles northeast of the state, said National Weather Service forecaster Henry Lau.