Heavy vog plagues islands despite light trade winds

If you’ve been outside in Hawai‘i, there’s no escaping it: vog, or haze from the erupting Kīlauea volcano.

KHON reporters spoke with the National Weather Service (NWS), which tells us the trades — when we’ve had them — just haven’t been strong enough to push the vog away. “The winds have been very light,” said meteorologist Matthew Foster. “We just have this very weak ridge of high pressure over the state and there’s just not a lot of pressure gradient which is what drives the wind speed. … The kind of real humid and stagnant air we’ve been having is not really helping either.”

It certainly hasn’t been helping people like Jennifer Griswold. The Atmospheric Sciences (ATMO) assistant professor had to work from home Monday because of her severe sensitivity to the vog. “When we first moved here and we had our first really serious vog episode, I got really sick,” she said. “It felt like I had really severe tooth pain, or like I needed a root canal, or like someone was stabbing me in the face. … I ended up going to a dentist who told me that my sinuses were so inflamed from the vog that they were essentially crushing the nerves of my teeth.” She now takes allergy medicine to keep her symptoms at bay.

Steven Businger, Atmospheric Sciences professor and department chair, says vog is seasonal, but it has increased over the last decade. “Since 2008, the summit crater at Kīlauea erupted and it more than doubled the amount of vog that was put into the atmosphere, so the vog has been worse,” he said. “The concentrations are not so high here that the EPA would designate it as a real hazard.”

Read more about it and watch the video report at KHON2, and read more about it in The Maui News. Read more about vog and vog condition at the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project (VMAP).