Monday, March 23, 2009

AK volcano Mount Redoubt errupts 4 times in 3 hours

A little scary.

Mount Redoubt erupts 4 times in 3 hours
Anchorage Daily News
Published: March 22nd, 2009 11:33 PM
Last Modified: March 23rd, 2009 03:19 AM

A fourth explosion rocked long-threatening Mount Redoubt at 1:39 a.m. after three eruptions earlier tonight sent an ash cloud an estimated 50,000 feet into the air, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported.

The first eruption came at 10:38 p.m. Sunday followed by another at 11:02 p.m., and a third at 12:14 a.m. today.

Winds are carrying the ash plume north toward the Susitna Valley, and an ash advisory has been issued for the area until 4 a.m., the National Weather Service said.

Ash is not expected in Anchorage or Wasilla at this time, the Weather Service said.

An ash cloud is headed up the Susitna Valley west of Willow and is expected to arrive in the Talkeetna area around 3 a.m., said Dave Stricklan at the Weather Service's Anchorage office.

"It looks like (Anchorage) might dodge the bullet," Alaska Volcano Observatory geophysicist Peter Cervelli said.

An FAA official at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport early Monday said there were no immediate plans to close the airport. Alaska Airlines canceled some flights today after the eruptions as a safety precaution. The airline's Web site suggested travelers check for updated flight information.

The AVO describes the eruptions as "four large explosions."

Observatory staffers notified Federal Aviation Administration officials immediately following the eruption.

The AVO staff also warned authorities at the Drift River Oil Terminal -- on the western shore of Cook Inlet downriver from the volcano -- that mud flows and flooding from melting glaciers might be headed their way. At a short 3 a.m. press conference today John Powers of AVO said given the hot material landing on snow, mud and snow slides could be expected and staff would check the Drift River area at first light today.

Protective dikes have been constructed at the terminal since Redoubt last erupted in 1989.

Powers also said looking at the history of Redoubt eruptions the event could be expected to go on for some time, even months. Eruptions in 1989 and 90 lasted about five months as did some prior events, he said.

For two hours, prior to the eruption, AVO scientists reported heightened seismicity at Redoubt and warned there could be a quick escalation to eruptive activity.

The volcano had been on Orange "watch" status for most of Sunday after activity began increasing Saturday.

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