Mount Redoubt Erupts 4 Times In 3 Hours

Source : http://www.ktuu.com

Mount Redoubt erupts 4 times in 3 hours; ash fall reported in Skwentna; flights canceled.

Check back with KTUU.com for more information as it becomes available.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Mount Redoubt erupted four times three hours late Sunday and early Monday, and the Alaska Volcano Observatory says the most recent was the largest so far.

"Beginning at 10:38 p.m. (Sunday) night, we began to have explosive activity," geophysicist John Power with the United States Geological Survey said. "At this point we have recorded four separate explosive events.

"These events were very large, explosive eruptions of Redoubt Volcano."

An eruption cloud is estimated to be at 50,000 feet above sea level at present.

The National Weather Service has issued an ash fall advisory for the cities of Talkeetna, Willow and Cantwell, effective until 8 a.m. Monday. Ash fall has been reported in Skwentna, and AVO says ash is still being emitted from the volcano.

Predictions before the most recent eruption called for light ash fall and for it to miss Anchorage, but things can change rapidly.

A flash flood warning has been issued for the Drift River near Mount Redoubt.

A Chevron oil terminal at Drift River just 27 miles from the volcano has initiated shutdown procedures to "both protect the health and safety of its employees and contractors and to safeguard the environment against a possible spill from its crude storage operations at its facility," Cook Inlet Pipe Line Co. said in a press release.

Elmendorf Air Force Base said early Monday that only "essential personnel" should report to work, and to contact supervisors for more information.

"What we've seen at Redoubt over the last two days is a very marked buildup in earthquake activity, earthquakes centered directly beneath the summit of the volcano," Power said.

The first explosion occurred at 10:38 p.m., a second at 11:02 p.m., a third at 12:14 a.m. and the most recent event at 1:39 a.m.

At 9:32 p.m., AVO issued an update stating that seismicity at Redoubt had increased significantly. At 11:02 p.m. it issued a release saying the eruption had begun.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport remains open as of 4 a.m.

Alaska Airlines rerouted five flights bound for Anchorage -- two out of Seattle and one each out of Honolulu, Maui and Nome. At 4 a.m. it said it had canceled 19 flights.

Continental Airlines had passengers board a plane in Anchorage then had them disembark, delaying the flight until 10 a.m.

U.S. Airways has turned one inbound flight back.

All airline passengers should check with their carrier for possible cancellations and delays.

Every Home Depot in Anchorage and the Mat-Su will be open 24 hours a day until further notice. A representative with the company says it is well-stocked with emergency supplies. There were about 20 people in line at the Tudor Road store at 2:20 a.m.

Decisions on school closures, if any, will likely not be made until around 4 a.m. Again, KTUU.com will send out bulletins as warranted.

The history of Redoubt suggests that this is only the beginning.

"Based on Redoubt's past eruptive behavior we might expect this particular eruptive episode to persist for some period of time," Power said. "The most recent eruption of Redoubt went on intermittently for a period of five months."

Elevated unrest at Redoubt began about six weeks ago with increased seismicity. AVO raised the alert level to orange, and it stayed there until about 10 days ago after a period of relative calm.

"This activity is something we've been expecting to see at Redoubt," Power said. "We first began tracking unrest at Redoubt in July of 2008. On November 5th we moved up our aviation alert to yellow, January 25th as activity escalated further we moved up to orange."

It was lowered back to yellow, but late Saturday evening it returned to orange when earthquake activity increased significantly, culminating in Sunday's eruption.

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