Natural Processes, Natural Hazards
Every region has its own troublesome natural hazards. In the Midwest, it's those pesky tornadoes. Florida is vulnerable to hurricanes, and Buffalo, New York, often gets buried under feet of snow. Hawaii is no exception. The islands have their own share of natural forces that aren't necessarily compatible with humans.
In addition to Kilauea, the active volcano on the Big Island, the islands have several volcanoes that are dormant. Not far from Kilauea is Mauna Loa, a volcano that's expected to erupt again in the near future. Another Big Island volcano, Hualalai, has experienced eruptions in the past. And on Maui, the volcano Haleakala is said to be “sleeping.”
The areas of volcanic activity are well monitored. There is usually sufficient warning, but disasters do strike. In 1990, the whole town of Kalapana was engulfed by lava.
Although the Hawaiian Islands are relatively smog-free, volcanic activity on the Big Island can sometimes introduce toxic emissions into the air, causing a hazy volcanic smog known as “vog.” Vog can contain sulphur dioxide and other noxious chemicals with the potential to affect people who suffer from respiratory ailments. The emissions can also contribute to natural “acid rain,” which can lead to water pollution and crop damage. State and national government agencies are well aware of this situation, and officials do make announcements when the situation becomes especially troublesome.
Shake, Rattle, and Rinse
Another result of volcanic activity are the earthquakes. Even earthquakes from far across the sea can have a dangerous effect thousands of miles away in the form of tsunamis (tidal waves). An earthquake in Chile, for example, resulted in a tsunami that damaged parts of the town of Hilo on the Big Island. Fortunately, we can now detect tsunamis well before they arrive, so that the people are informed and are able to move to higher ground.
Exposed in the middle of the ocean, the Hawaiian Islands get their fair share of tropical storms. The storms can produce a bit of flooding and some damage here and there. It's rare that hurricanes cause a lot of damage, but it does happen. Hurricanes Iwa (1982) and Iniki (1992) caused extensive damage, especially on the island of Kauai, which has still not completely recovered from these disasters. Again, with the help of modern technology, the people of Hawaii are well prepared to handle these natural disasters.