Friday, January 8, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Weather officials didn't know if fumes
from the Big Island's volcano contributed
to Honolulu's heavy haze yesterday.

Big Island
hopes to get
relief from vog

Hundreds of residents are
feeling the effect of
the volcanic fumes

By Rod Thompson


HILO -- Big Islanders are hoping for relief from vog conditions that have plagued the island for about a week and a half and sent larger than normal numbers of people to their doctors and the Hilo Hospital emergency room.

In response to the vog -- fumes from Kilauea Volcano -- the state Department of Health ordered a burning ban, which had been in effect for most of the island, extended to the entire island on Tuesday, said Civil Defense director Harry Kim.

The number of concerned people calling the Civil Defense office peaked at about 100 per day in the middle of last week, dipped, then peaked again on Monday, Kim said.

Since then the number has tapered off, but the office is still receiving about 50 calls per day, he said.

The hospital said it had no statistics on the number of people treated for vog but Kim said there were "quite a bit of people."

Kim has also been issuing daily radio messages advising people to get medical treatment as soon as they experience symptoms, such as difficulty breathing.

"Once the symptoms start, it progresses rather rapidly," he said.

The county Department of Parks and Recreation and the state Department of Education have both curtailed -- but not entirely eliminated -- recreation activities, he said.

The National Weather Service said the problems are caused by a series of cold weather fronts north of Hawaii which pull winds northwards from near the equator.

In the Big island's case, that means disrupting the tradewinds which carry vog away from Hilo but toward Kona under normal circumstances.

The situation on Oahu isn't as clear, despite the appearance of some material in the air blocking views of Diamond Head and other sights yesterday, the Weather Service said.

The Weather Service is calling that effect haze, probably caused by condensation of water vapor in the air from the south, a spokesman said.

Whether fumes from the volcano are also involved is unclear, they said.

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