Alaskans brace for volcanic eruption

Officials encourage Alaskans to prepare as they would for a bad snowstorm.

BY STEPHANIE BACKUS | BALTIMORE | January 30, 2009


Scientists are warning Alaskans that an eruption of Mount Redoubt is imminent. The scientists have been monitoring earthquakes underneath the 10,200-foot volcano.

Mount Redoubt is 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. Scientists noticed a difference in emissions and melting on Nov. 5. On Sunday, they reported a sharp increase in seismic activity below the volcano.

According to scientists, Alaskan volcanoes do not produce the same lava usually associated with volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands, but instead shoot ash nine miles into the air, effectively causing the ash to enter the jet stream, carrying the particles to nearby cities, like Anchorage. Scientists said the ash has jagged edges and can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages, as well as scratch glass.

In 1989 when Redoubt blew, it sent ash 150 miles away, into the path of a jet causing the engines to flame out. The plane dropped more than 2 miles before the crew was able to restart the engines and land the plane safely. It required $80 million in repairs.

Officials are recommending Alaskans prepare for the eruption as they would a bad snowstorm, including stocking a home with flashlights, batteries and several days’ worth of food.


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