Mt. ReDoubt‘s activity has been erratic today. Activity frequency has increased, but volatility has decreased. There have been numerous tremors and small plumes reported, but they have all topped out at under 27,000 ft (5 miles). The Alaska Volcano Observatory refers to these as “discreet events.”
The Coast Guard, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Cook Inlet Pipeline Company have established a unified command to address the situation at the Drift River Oil Terminal. A tanker may be moved in Wednesday, to draw-down the tanks to 1.8 million gallons each. Chevron states that they are reluctant to draw-down the tanks any further, because to do so might be to risk the tanks floating off their foundations if the tank farm gets inundated by the Drift River.
Anchorage International was operational for a short time today, but they closed the airport again this afternoon, and diverted flights to Fairbanks because of the activity at the volcano. The airport hopes to be fully operational again sometime tomorrow - if ReDoubt permits.
Ashfall hit Homer Thursday afternoon. All you had to do was step into it for 3-4 seconds, and you would find yourself heavily dusted in a fine, granular grit. Breathing in volcanic ash unprotected would be like inhaling powdered glass, so face masks are mandatory at such time.
Driving in an ashfall can literally asphyxiate your car. The ashfall was heaviest during the drive home from work, and we used up a reservoir of washer fluid en route.
By the time we arrived home, the snowscape was a disgusting drab. It was a mad dash to secure the home front by duct taping, visqueening, and laying wet towels at the base of doors. We shut down and covered most of the electrical devices with plastic, hunkered down, and listened to the reports on the radio for the next few hours, waiting for things to clear.
The prevailing winds have been in our favor during subsequent eruptions, but we have been through the drill of securing and unsecuring the house a few times...as there have been a few warnings of impending ashfall announced over the radio.
The car washes have been making a fortune in town. People have been lining up, with the wait in line being easily over an hour. After Thursday's ashfall, my car made any Alcan travelers' car look pristine. The ash caked on the side and back windows had turned a bizarre green by the time I rinsed it off yesterday.
Cleaning up after a volcano dusting is like a reenactment of the "Cat in the Hat.” Luckily, we were blessed with a bit of snowfall yesterday, which covered up our sullied snow, and settled some of the lingering dust.
We look forward to returning to a dispassionate state of calm, and the preempted, regularly scheduled program soon. Indeed.
- photo by Tina Neal, courtesy AVO/USGS