Kilauea volcano erupts on Hawaii's Big Island, along with 4.4 earthquake and a massive steam cloud

Officials in Hawaii have raised Kilauea's alert to "warning" level and the aviation color code to red, as the volcano erupts and lava threatens homes. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park are urging residents to stay indoors, and describe the situation as "rapidly evolving."

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake hit about an hour after the volcano began erupting.

From the Associated Press:

Tom Birchard, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Hawaii, said a new lava flow interacted with a pool of water inside the crater and that led to a short-lived but a fairly vigorous eruption.

All the water evaporated out of the lake and a steam cloud shot up about 30,000 feet (9 kilometers) into the atmosphere, Birchard said.

An advisory was issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu, warning of fallen ash from the volcano. Excessive exposure to ash is an eye and respiratory irritant, it said. The agency later said the eruption was easing and a "low-level steam cloud" was lingering in the area. By 1 a.m., USGS officials told Hawaii News Now that there were reported lava fountains shooting about 165 feet (50 meters) into the sky.

David Phillips, a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokesman, said the agency was monitoring the situation. "We will send out further notifications on Kilauea and other Hawaiian volcanoes as we observe changes," he said.

More at the AP: Volcano erupts on Hawaii's Big Island, produces steam cloud