Redoubt ash headed toward Homer

Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ashfall from a pair of fresh eruptions from Redoubt Volcano on Thursday morning is expected to hit Homer sometime after noon.

The eruptions, which occurred at 8:34 and 9:24 a.m., prompted the National Weather Service to issue an ashfall advisory for Homer and surrounding areas.

The latest eruption sent a plume of ash 65,000 feet into the air and prevailing winds at that altitude are expected to carry it to the southern Kenai Peninsula, according to the NWS advisory.

"Minor ashfall is likely from Ninilchik southward to the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, including Homer and communities along Kachemak Bay," states the advisory warning. "A trace to one-eighth of an inch of ash may accumulate this afternoon."

Area residents are advised to remain indoors if possible, seal windows and doors, protect electronic devices, cover air intakes and open water supplies and minimize driving.

The advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. today.

The NWS has also issued a flash flood advisory for the Drift River near the volcano, meaning that flooding is "imminent or occurring" in the area.

Scott Walden, coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, spent the morning in close touch with officials from the NWS and the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

"It's going to be an inconvenience, but not a significant issue," Walden said of the amount of ashfall expected to hit the southern and central Kenai Peninsula. "Their description for Ninilchik south is trace amount of ash, one millimeter or less."

Era Aviation flights were on hold, as of 10:30 a.m., with Grant Aviation already canceling flights for the rest of the day.

"Our next flight will probably be tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.," said Station Manager Derek McElroy. "I don't think we want to fly in the darkness in case there's ask still around."

Smokey Bay Air was stopping all flights as of 11 a.m. this morning, with Homer Air focused on getting their passengers to their home communities.

"What we're trying to do right now is get everyone home so thy can watch out for their stuff and we'll shut down at the first sign of ash hitting our planes, said Homer Air Chief Pilot Zack Tappan. "Right now we're trying to get people home to be get their loves ones together. It might be a few days before they can fly again. Until then, it's our responsibility to get these people moved."

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was issuing updates on its Web site after each eruption.

"We do not expect these small amounts of ashfall to warrant school closure. We are awaiting further evaluation/feedback from emergency management staff. Should conditions change, or additional information become available, updates will be posted to this website," their site said.

Directly across from Redoubt, Ninilchik School Principal Terry Martin said, "We can't see the mountain, but we have a real good shot of the plume cloud."

For the students, it was "history in the making," Martin said.

"They're excited. ... It's nice to be able to see that," he said.

The advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. today.

 

For up to the minute information, visit the Alaska Volcano Observatory's Redoubt page at www.avo.alaska.edu/activity/Redoubt.php or the National Weather Service's Redoubt coordination page at http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/volcano.php.



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