Kailua Kona Update May 2021: VOG Has Returned


Clear air in 2020

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that I share the good with the bad. Or not perfect.

The not-so-perfect right now is the VOG (volcanic fog) that is coming from the on going eruption at Kīlauea summit.

Why is Kailua Kona Experiencing VOG?

View today, May 21, 2022

For those who don’t know, Kīlauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi, with a consistently active summit caldera that frequently hosts lava lake-style eruptions.  The current eruption started in September 2021. Halemaʻumaʻu crater is where West Hawaii is currently getting VOG/sulphuric emissions from.

A few months ago, the eruption would stop for a few days and then resume. The folks at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently announced that the volcano eruption is now ongoing. Watch the Big Island News video to see the eruption and learn more. 

The emissions rise from the crater and as the wind pattern picks up after day break as the land heats up and starts the convection process of pulling the ocean air across the island, the VOG wafts towards West Hawaii, coming around the point in Kealekekua and then coming into Kona and then heading north from there on days wind is not pushing it down from Waikoloa.

For visitors, this is good to know if you were wondering what that fog like substance sneaking up the coast in the morning is, like today around 9 am. And you may be wondering, will it lift and dissipate like actual fog does near the ocean on the West Coast? Well, depending on the wind for the day, it depends. For the most part, we are not getting very clear evenings on a consistent basis, although the VOG in the air provides some orange sunsets that you can’t see in very many other places.

Check the Wind and Air Quality in Kailua Kona

Here are some resources for you to get an idea of what to expect and what may be happening currently around wind and air quality.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park lets you see the Halemaumau Crater in real time: https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm

Purple Air gives you the air quality measurement: https://map.purpleair.com/1/mAQI/a10/p604800/cC0#11.48/19.6839/-155.9243

Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System tracks wind speed and direction: https://www.pacioos.hawaii.edu/currents/model-hawaii/

UH Hilo real time map on emissions: http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/vmap/new/


By looking at these four web sites, you will have a pretty good inclination on what the view is going to be around Kailua Kona. Today, you can see that the area around Palisades, above the airport, is sitting in VOG soup with a air quality level of 129 vs 54 further south. 

You can see that the air is being pushed up from the south and down from the north to let it just sit on the Kalaoa area today on the wind map, but you can see a moving VOG pattern on the UH Hilo real time map.


Satellite Sulphur Map May 21, 2022

On Thursday, we actually had a pretty nice day and the sunset was pretty clear. So, yes, we DO get some help in clearing the VOG when the trade winds cooperate!

Am I a blue horizon day snob? Maybe. It certainly makes it more beautiful here at my desk looking at over the ocean!

Also, to note, we had “drought like conditions” for three months during the winter and then the spring has been pretty wet, which has been a blessing to the farms and keeping wild fire threat at bay in Kailua Kona. A Hawaiian Kumu doing a blessing at an event I held recently, chided me for complaining about the rain. She reminded me and the crowd, that Hawaiians always consider rain a blessing, as it is life.  And when the cows on our property were mooing hard at 6:30 am for us to feed them because all their grass had died in their pasture in January and February, I was looking forward to any rain coming  so we could stop feeding them supplemental alfalfa cubes!  We have reached that point, finally.

So, here we are in this weather pattern, with the VOG and the rain clouds coming in each day.

The gold lining? It sure makes you get up early and get outside to enjoy the blue before 9 am! Get your snorkeling in, your morning coffee, a walk along Alii Drive, etc.

For those of us living here full time, we knew we were being treated to the bluest skies for the longest time in thirty years during the lock down for the pandemic. We not only had our beaches uncrowded, but the skies were blue and I swear little birds were chirping on our shoulders, too.

Here are pics of the sunset with and without VOG:

Kona sunset with VOG

Kona sunset without VOG




If you were here during the eruption in 2018, with the air quality moving into hazardous levels, you can look around and say, “It’s not THAT bad!” and you would be right. So, we watch Pele stirring her stick in Halemaʻumaʻu crater and see new Earth being created and say, “When you visit or live on Hawai’i Island, nature decides what will happen next and we just watch in wonder.”

If you would like to learn more about different aspects of the island, go to www.365Hawaii.info

Julie Ziemelis is a long time blogger, event planner and marketing professional in West Hawaii. She is also a founding team member with the 365Hawaii Group- Keller Williams Realty-Maui/Big Island Division. You can reach her directly at [email protected]

Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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