Hawai'i Volcano Blog

Hawai‘i Volcano Overflight: Amazing Volcano Vortices!

Listen to this Article
1 minute
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

A pink rainbow, amazing votices and a plethora of lava flows made for a spectacular lava overflight for the Paradise Helicopters crew on March 29, 2018.

Although the skies over Hilo were clear, showers from a cell of weather over the upper flow field and early morning rays filtered by vog, created a pink rainbow. For a short bit, it was a full circle double.

Backlit by the sun, these vortices were mesmerizing to watch! A wide angle shot of the huge breakout, approximately 1/2 mile from the vent. The white gases rising from ground is steam, while the bluish gas is sulfur dioxide, and this particular breakout has been degassing more than we usually see. The somewhat circular area within the rising steam, is where this breakout has covered. PC: ExtremeExposure

Light but shifty winds at Puʻu ʻŌʻō allowed the crew to observe consistent bubbling at the lava lake in a couple spots, and also gave them a peek at the new activity on the main crater’s floor.


Except for one glowing toe of lava, the flow had cooled and crusted over. Meanwhile, just about a half-mile from the vent, a large breakout was raging. But, as the crew approached it, they could see in the distance, steam rising from the flow field seemed to be spawning vortices.

These dramatic, unusual formations look like mini tornadoes, but spin much less quickly.

“We have often seen water spouts at the ocean entry, but this morning, due to a heavy downpour on the 61g flow and the right wind and heat conditions, several vortices (landspouts) appeared just above the Pulama Pali.


Vortex after vortex formed before their eyes… rising columns of heated air, some spinning slow and loose, while others were tight and well defined. After spending a couple minutes circling the area documenting this phenomenon, it rapidly dissipated… just as quickly as it had formed.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments