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Here's what to do if ash falls in your community

Ash fell on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now) Ash fell on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
VOLCANO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The eruptions at Kilauea's summit crater are prompting officials to warn residents about how to handle ashfall.

The National Weather Service issued its first-ever ashfall advisory this week for parts of the Big Island after a series of eruptions at Halemaumau Crater sent plumes of ash into the air.

But just what does an ashfall advisory mean?

Based on a scale that NWS uses, an ashfall advisory means an accumulation of less than 1/4 of an inch is expected. Ash could be harmful to crops and animals and could cause some minor damage to equipment and infrastructure.

If less than 1/32 of an inch is expected, then NWS will issue what’s called a special weather statement, essentially letting people know that there’s some ash in the air and that they could experience some eye and respiratory issues.

Ashfall accumulation of anything over 1/4 of an inch would prompt an ashfall warning with impacts ranging from disruption of services and utilities to extensive damage to crops, structures and roads.  

If ashfall is reported in your area, here's what to do, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency:

  • Close doors and windows.
  • Place damp towels at door thresholds and other draft sources.
  • Protect sensitive electronics and do not uncover until the environment is totally ash-free.
  • Disconnect drainpipes and downspouts from gutters to stop drains clogging, but allowing ash and water to empty from gutters onto the ground.
  • If you use a rainwater collection system for your water supply, disconnect the tank prior to ash falling.
  • If you have chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, stay inside and avoid unnecessary exposure to the ash.
  • Ensure livestock have clean food and water.
  • If you have children, know your school’s emergency plan and have indoor games and activities ready.

For more information, click here.

This story will be updated.

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