ANCHORAGE, Alaska â Alaska’s Mount Redoubt volcano erupted four times overnight, sending an ash plume more than 9 miles high into the air, but the state’s largest city has likely been spared from any ashfall.
“The ash cloud went to 50,000 feet, and it’s currently drifting toward the north, northeast,” said Janet Schaefer, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
The first eruption, in a sparsely area across Cook Inlet from the Kenai Peninsula, occurred at 10:38 p.m. Sunday and the fourth happened at 1:39 a.m. Monday, according to the observatory.
The wind patterns were taking the ash cloud away from Anchorage, toward Willow and Talkneetna, near Mount McKinley, North America’s largest mountain in Denali National Park.
Geophysicist John Power said no cities have yet reported any ash fall from the volcano, but noted that it was still early.
Using radar and satellite technology, the National Weather Service is predicting ash to start falling later Monday morning.
Dave Stricklan, a hydrometeorogical technician with the National Weather Service, expected very fine ash.
“Just kind of a light dusting,” he said. He said the significant amount of ash probably dropped immediately, right down the side of the volcano.
“The heavier stuff drops out very quickly, and then the other stuff filters out. There’s going to be a very fine amount of it that’s going to be suspended in the atmosphere for quite some time, but nothing to really affect anything such as aviation travel. The heavier stuff will filter out,” he said.
Still, Alaska Airlines on Monday canceled 19 flights in and out of the Anchorage international airport because of the ash.
Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage told only essential personnel to report to work. The Air Force says 60 planes, including fighter jets, cargo aircraft and a 747 commercial plane, are being sheltered.
The 10,200-foot Redoubt Volcano, roughly 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, last erupted during a four-month period from 1989-90.
But the volcano became restless earlier this year. The observatory had warned in late January that an eruption could occur at any time.
Increased earthquake activity over the past 48 hours prompted scientists to raise the alert level for Mount Redoubt on Sunday.
On Sunday morning, 40 to 50 earthquakes were being recorded every hour.
A steam plume rising about 1,000 feet above the mountain peak was observed Saturday.
On the Net:
Alaska Volcano Observatory: www.avo.alaska.edu