Augustine Volcano erupts
Light ash could reach Kenai Peninsula, expected to miss Anchorage
Daily News staff and wire reports
Published: January 11, 2006
Last Modified: January 11, 2006 at 10:11 AM
Mount Augustine Volcano erupted early Wednesday, sending an ash plume an estimated 30,000 feet into the Alaska sky.
A pair of explosions at 4:44 a.m and 5:13 a.m. indicated the volcano probably had erupted, said geologist Jennifer Adleman of the Alaska Volcano
Observatory said. Seismic activity has not continued since those explosions.
The plume advanced north but was expected to remain west of Anchorage, said Bob Hopkins, meteorologist in charge in the Anchorage office. A flight
advisory was issued for pilots for an area 20 miles east and west of the volcano and about 50 miles north.
"Fortunately, it's not going to Anchorage this time," Hopkins said. The volcano is on an uninhabited island about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage
and across Cook Inlet from the Kenai Peninsula. The volcano is about 75 miles southwest of Homer.
Winds are carrying an ash plume from the mountain north toward the Iniskin Peninsula on the west side of Cook Inlet, an area with little settlement.
But winds above 20,000 feet were moving east toward the Kenai Peninsula, meaning light ash could reach the Anchor Point area this morning.
The ash is not expected to reach Anchorage. The ash cloud appears to have low concentrations of ash, the National Weather Service said.
Those wind patterns are expected to hold for at least the next 24 hours, in case further eruptions take place, said National Weather Service
meteorologist Neil Murakami.
Era Aviation cancelled some morning flights in the region and held others, waiting until daylight to check the status of the ash cloud.
"We had some flights headed down to Kodiak, Homer and Kenai and we just turned them around and brought them back to Anchorage," Paul Landis, Era
PenAir cancelled flights to King Salmon and held flights to Aniak and McGrath until daylight. Flights to Dutch Harbor and Cold Bay were routed around
the ash cloud, according to Danny Seybert, Chief Operations Officer of Penn Air.
Alaska Airlines was closely monitoring the situation, but had made no changes to the flight schedule as of 9:30 a.m., according to airline spokeswoman
Amanda Tobin in Seattle. No ash had fallen in the Iliamna Lake community of Pedro Bay, the nearest settlement to the volcano, said tribal
administrator Kevin Jensen.
No ashfall is expected in Kodiak, which is south of the island volcano. A National Weather Service ashfall alert mentioned Kodiak but only because the
Kamishak Bay area is included in the Kodiak reporting district, Murakami said. No tsunami activity is anticipated from the events so far, the volcano
The observatory planned to make observation flights after sunrise at 10:03 a.m. to get more information about the types of gases emitted from the
volcano, Adleman said.
Weather in the area is cloudy.
The 4,134-foot volcano about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage last erupted in 1986. Ash from a 7-mile-high column drifted over Anchorage and kept
flights out of the skies over Cook Inlet.
The explosions, with magnitude 2.6 seismic activity, occurred at 4:44 a.m. Alaska Standard Time, and the observatory upgraded the level of concern
from orange to red, meaning a significant eruption was occurring or an explosive eruption was expected at any time.
Augustine had been rumbling since November, and seismic measurements picked up around 4 p.m. Tuesday. At 9:05 p.m., the observatory had upgraded the
level of concern from yellow, or restless, to orange, meaning an eruption could occur at any time.
Further eruptions could take place at any time, U.S. Geological Survey scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said.
Information for this story came from the Associated Press and Daily News reporters Tom Kizzia and Julia O'Malley. They can be reached at
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