Winds blow favorably for peninsula

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2009

It's been a busy week for the Kenai Peninsula.

Sunday night's rumblings from across Cook Inlet kept some folks up all night long waiting to see if we were in the path of Mount Redoubt's ashfall.

The next morning we were tested in another way: a power outage. The glitch that darkened the peninsula from end to end was initially thought to be linked to the volcano eruption, but it turned out the outage was caused by an undetermined problem with the power transmission line that links the Kenai to Anchorage.

The two-hour delay hindered most businesses and closed others. Those, such as the Clarion, that are dependent on electronic devices, stood idle, making phone calls in the dark.

Outside, peninsula folks were forced to use the old-school driving rules when coming to nonfunctioning traffic lights. While some drivers failed to notice a lack of green, most used caution and waited their turn to enter the intersections.

We're pleased to report there were no major traffic mishaps. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

Once we overcame that obstacle, Redoubt stepped back in Monday evening with another burp. Luckily the wind was blowing in our favor -- away from the peninsula.

However, as of Thursday afternoon, the biggest hiccup to date came at about 9:30 Thursday morning, shooting a massive ash cloud 65,000 feet above sea level.

While we couldn't see it here on the central peninsula, photos from Homer told the story. And a change in wind direction sent reports that ashfall was headed this way.

Were you prepared?

Watching the Alaska Volcano Observatory's color code rise to red (warning), fall to orange (watch) and rise to red again this week had some people hitting the stores to stock up on goods.

Were you one of them?

Common sense tells us to be prepared for anything. If we are, we know to shut all windows and air-intake systems, cover sensitive electronic equipment and have dust masks, eye protection and air filters on hand.

The International Volcanic Health Hazard Network suggests keeping these items in your home in case of an ash fall:

* Enough drinking water for at least 72 hours (one gallon per person per day).

* Enough nonperishable food for at least 72 hours for family and pets.

* Battery-operated radio and extra batteries.

* Lanterns or torches (flashlights) and extra batteries.

* If cold, extra wood for a fireplace or stove, extra blankets and warm clothing.

* Extra stocks of medication for family and pets.

* First aid kit.

* Cleaning supplies (broom, vacuum cleaner, bags-filters, shovels, etc.).

* Small amount of money (ATMs may not work).

When ash falls:

* Close doors and windows.

* Place damp towels at door thresholds and other draft sources.

* If you have chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, stay inside and avoid unnecessary exposure to the ash.

* Don't panic; stay calm.

* Stay indoors.

* If outside, seek shelter (a car or building).

* Use a mask, handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth.

* Do not tie up phone lines with non-emergency calls.

These tips could make a difference if and when additional eruptions occur, but the best tip is to stay on top of what's going on in your area.

The Clarion is doing our best to keep you informed. Check our Web site at peninsulaclarion.com for any updates on Redoubt or to connect to the Alaska Volcano Observatory links and web cams.



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