Mount Redoubt blew last night.
The volcano is erupting right now - the news just broadcast that the fifth major explosion of this eruption series has just occurred and the ash plume is expected to reach 60,000 feet.
No ash has fallen here or in Anchorage. So far it's business as usual.
Updates to follow.
Update 1: 3/23/09 06:33
It appears at the moment that the winds are such that the initial ash fall will pass both north and south of Anchorage , but not on the city itself. It does look, however, as if the wind transport will cause some of it to pass directly over my house here in Palmer. We'll see.
Flights out of Anchorage International are being grounded or redirected per normal procedure.
At the moment everything is normal, schools and businesses are open. Power and communications are unaffected. The bases and emergency services are on alert per standard procedure.
My generators are prepped and ready to go. We have water and supplies if the power goes out. And plenty of firewood if the gas goes offline. We have masks and goggles should the ash fall here. At the moment we're not expecting to need any of it - but I'm a big believer in being prepared.
Sun-up in an hour, then we'll know more.
Redoubt continues to erupt.
The wind is blowing the ashfall north, right at us. However, the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the National Weather Service are predicting only light ashfall here at the moment. I haven't seen any, and I expect that if any ash is falling it's north of here up near Talkeetna.
The AVO webcam nearest the volcano (station RSO) is dead, buried in ash, or knocked offline by seismic shock sometime during the night. If the weather clears we might get some real time pictures from the webcam mounted on a Chevron platform in the Cook Inlet - but I wouldn't hold your breath on that one. Right now it's showing mostly fog, which is what it usually shows.
As of this moment, 19 passenger flights into or out of Anchorage International have been canceled. Two flights were turned back to Seattle. Everything else here is grounded at the moment. International cargo flights, the vast bulk of the traffic through Anchorage Intl, are also grounded at the moment, so if you were shipping somthing to Asia via FedEx, it probably ain't gonna get there overnight, at least not through Alaska anyway.
People mostly seem to be taking it in stride. This morning at the coffee shop more people were bitching about our retarded Governor's decision to reject a big chunk of the Federal Bailout while jobs and schools and the oil industry are collapsing around us. Something tells me that this stupid politicking bitch is going to be out of a job come 2010, because, seriously here folks, if the MatSu Valley Fundies are talking smack about her, she really has no base left at all.
Sunrise was very, very orange today. Turning yellow and cloudy now though. Sorry, didn't get a picture.
I used to live on Iceland, with more active volcanoes than you can shake a stick at - if you could find a stick on Iceland that is. I was in Sicily in the mid-80's for the Mount Etna eruption. And I used to work far out in the Aleutians, during several eruptions of various volcanoes. One thing about volcanic ash, it makes for some pretty awesome skies.
If we get more high altitude ash drift, sunset should be spectacular. I'll try to have the camera ready.
Just talked to a friend with the USGS, biggest explosion was last night, the eruptions have been tapering off. However that doesn't mean that the event is over, and that doesn't mean that another big one couldn't occur at any moment. Redoubt could follow this pattern for months, or go silent again this week. Vulcanology isn't an exact science, prediction wise. Probability is that Redoubt will continue to erupt, just as it did the last time and the time before that, for several months.
The AVO is planning an overflight this afternoon, and in fact should be airborne now. How close they can get depends on a lot of things - as you might imagine. The weather over the mountain isn't the best, and visibility sucks even without a major eruption going on, so whether or not we get some clear pictures is anybody's guess at this point.
Definately an odd tint in the sky today, color wise.
If I sound a bit cavalier about this whole volcano thing, it's because I am.
I can afford to be.
See, the USGS and Alaska Volcano Observatory have been monitoring Mount Redoubt and the other active volcanoes here in The Great Land for many, many years. When Redoubt began to rumble, they were all over it.
The geologists, geophysicists, and the scientists of the USGS looked at the twitches on their graphs and listened to the telemetry from the remote sensors and did what they do. They began predicting this eruption months ago.
The AVO has been in the papers, on TV, on the local radio, and on the web for months, providing updates, advice, and recomendation for preparedness. As a result our government, infrastructure, emergency services, State National Guard, and many citizens are prepared. The schools and airports and towns all have emergency plans, the airports put theirs into effect this morning. We've got filter masks and generators. We've got goggles and spare air filters for the cars. We've got shovels, and radios, and batteries. We've got food and fuels and more than anything we know not to panic.
But think about it for a minute. It's Alaska, we're remote and far from help. Should the power plants go down - and this is the single largest threat we face, both because turbines don't take kindly to particulate ingestion and because wet ash falling on power lines causes catastrophic short cicuits - we could easily end up with 200,000 people in the dark without heat, power, or communications, in the middle of winter.
It won't happen, we were warned and as a result we're preparred. But it is that very warning system idiots like Bobby Jindal want to take away, apparently on the theory that it's better to get hit without preparation - see how well that worked in New Orleans, in Bobby's home state? Yeah, the mind boggles.
The eruption has tapered off for the moment. No new ash emissions in the last several hours. No ash fall here, the winds are carrying it north of us, what little there is.
AVO has an overflight in progress at the moment, should be some updated pictures later this evening.
The phone call flood and email deluge continue however.
We're fine, really.
Just had another big explosion. Still waiting on the details
All quiet. No new eruptions since last night. No ash fall here.
Some cool pictures from yesterday's flyover can be found here.