Pavlof’s Blown It


The weekend’s rains finally put the kibosh on the wildfires plaguing South central Alaska, and the skies have turned sunny and all of the plants & trees are flourishing.  Nothing for any of us to worry about, and above all else, nothing to complain about … right?

On June 2nd, the volcano Pavlof went “condition red”.

Condition Red is the highest level of warning.  It is issued when eruption is imminent with loads of volcanic ash into the atmosphere likely or eruption is underway or suspected with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.  In Pavlof’s case, the eruption went from imminent to underway pretty quickly.  Overnight, it was shooting a fountain of lava out of the top, and has an ash cloud reaching 24,000 ft.  According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, some of the tremors have died down but the eruption will likely go on for a while.

Currently, there is very little threat to anyone.  Pavlof is on an Aleutian Island some 650 miles from Anchorage, and 40 miles from the closest town (which isn’t even on the same island).  The main threat is the ash, either disrupting airplane traffic or falling onto a town in that area.  The ash plume is reaching out nearly 70 miles, but the winds down that way are fairly straight line and luckily away from people.,

Alaska, with being the most active Earthquake state in the country, also happens to be the most volcanic as well.  Hawaii may have greater or more interesting activity, but Alaska lapped them over.  In fact, the 50 volcanoes active in recorded history is about three-quarters of the total number of active volcanoes in the USA.  Nearly all of them run along the Aleutian Islands, the long spear of islands that reach from Anchorage’s Cook Inlet to past the dateline and nearly Japan.  The greatest concern is Mt. Redoubt, a 10000 ft active beast that’s in shooting distance to the whole Cook Inlet – and last did so in 1990.  Cleveland is another nasty one, but its in a part of the Aleutian Chain where it mostly worries travelers to Asia.

As for now, we watch the reports, see the cool pictures, and hope for the best for the people down by Pavlof.

Oh … and complain, we are good at that.

Late Night Update:  The Alaskan Volcano Observatory has downgraded Pavlof to “Yellow” status.  So, the eruption event is basically over.

CORRECTION TO THE UPDATE — It’s Actually “Orange” meaning:  eruption is underway with no or minor volcanic-ash emissions


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