Hawaii volcano eruption intensifies, triggering ‘red’ warning

Hawaii residents are facing the highest volcanic activity alert after  officials warned Tuesday that the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano is growing more explosive. 

The U.S. Geological Survery upgraded its previous volcano warning from “orange” to “red,” signifying that an “eruption is forecasted to be imminent with significant emission of ash into the atmosphere likely,” or that an eruption is already underway.

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“At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent,” local officials told Fox News amid the alert, which was issued just before 1:30 p.m. local time.

This photo from the U.S. Geological Survey shows activity at Halema'uma'u Crater that has increased to include the nearly continuous emission of ash with intermittent stronger pulses at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii at around 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Plumes range from 1 to 2 kilometers (3,000 to 6,000 feet) above the ground. Officials on the Big Island of Hawaii say some vents formed by Kilauea volcano are releasing such high levels of sulfur dioxide that the gas poses an immediate danger to anyone nearby. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

This photo from the U.S. Geological Survey shows activity at Halema’uma’u Crater that has increased to include the nearly continuous emission of ash with intermittent stronger pulses at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii at around 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

 (U.S. Geological Survey)

Nearly 20 fissures have opened since the Kilauea volcano started erupting 12 days ago. On Monday, another fissure spewing lava and unhealthy gas opened up, and a crack in the Earth that emerged a day earlier was sending molten rock on a slow run for the ocean, officials said.

Volcanic air pollution and ashfall have been reported in Pahala, and National Weather Service radar and pilots have reported the top of the volcano’s ash cloud is 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level.

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and James Rogers contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

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