AVO expecting more explosive activity

Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The winds of fortune are shifting over the Kenai Peninsula.

Image Courtesy Of The Geographic Information Network Of Alaska/Jonathan Dehn
Image Courtesy Of The Geographic Information Network Of Alaska/Jonathan Dehn
Ash on the snow to the north-northeast of Mount Redoubt can be seen in this image. The image is from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer on the NASA Terra satellite, received at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Monday.

While area residents were spared from dealing with ashfall during Mount Redoubt's first six eruptions starting late Sunday night through Monday evening, the northwest wind that blew ash clouds into the upper reaches of the Susitna River Valley are turning.

"Starting off Wednesday morning it looks like the winds are going to be blowing out of the east southeast at the lowest levels, swinging around to the east northeast, moving right across the inlet over Kenai, Whittier and Valdez," said Jeff Osiensky, volcanic ash program manager for the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Starting Tuesday night through midday today, the central and northern peninsula will sit squarely in the crosshairs of any ash ejected by the trembling peak.

By this afternoon, a potential ashfall should again effect communities north of the peninsula.

Of course, winds blowing from across the inlet are only a concern if the mountain actually blows again.

As of Tuesday evening, seismic readings, published in real time on the Alaska Volcano Observatory's Web site, showed low levels of activity following Redoubt's Monday evening eruption.

Michele Coombs, a geologist with AVO warned however, that just because the peak had dispelled from its tantrum for the last 24 hours, there was no reason to believe that the eruptions had come to an end.

"We're definitely expecting future explosions with little or no warning," she said.

Coombs said without being able to see the crater, it was hard to say exactly what was going on, but suspicions were that a new lava dome may be growing.

"It's been relatively quiet since the last explosive event, in particular over the last 12 hours," Coombs said Tuesday afternoon.

"We're still seeing small discreet earthquakes at the closest seismic stations. They may be associated with the growth of a lava dome but without visual observation we can't tell," she said.

Coombs said the cloud cover, which blocked observers' views of the peak, also obscured the thermal imagery recordings from over-passing satellites.

For Mount Redoubt updates and information on ashfall preparedness, visit the Clarion Web site at www.peninsulaclarion.com and look for links to the Alaska Volcano Observatory Web site and the borough Office of Emergency Management.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com

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