Strong Winds Stir up Ash from Novarupta, 1912 Alaska Volcano Eruption

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Novarupta Eruption

Gusty winds swept through Kodiak Island, Alaska on Tuesday evening disrupting ash from the 1912 Novarupta volcano. The National Weather Service said strong winds and a lack of snow helped stir up the volcano ash and prompted flight warnings for the area. The ash was lifted to about 4,000 feet and drifted over the Shelikof Straight and Kodiak Island.

Weather service meteorologist Brian Hagenbuch said it isn’t unheard of for ash from Novarupta to create a haze in Alaska, but it isn’t very common either. Winds in the area were blowing about 35 to 40 mph, with gusts of more than 52 mph.

“When the sun came up yesterday, I noticed it looked foggy on the Larson Bay camera, which has one of many cameras set up by the FAA to monitor weather conditions. We were kind of curious because we didn’t expect fog to be there. But as the sun continued to rise, the fog looked smoggy and brown,” Brian Hagenbuch stated.

The haze from the ash was starting to alarm residents thinking there was a volcano eruption happening. Ash was dusting streets and cars. Charlene Clampffer, the Larsen Bay secretary said, “It looked like it was going to rain or something when we first noticed it. Then, people realized, That’s not clouds! That’s ash from a volcano somewhere.”

Dave Schneider, a geophysicist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory says he’s not surprised that the winds stirred up ash from Novarupta. He says there is a lot of ash that still remains and this kind of event will continue for many years to come.

A satellite image showed a “milky white plume” spreading out from the northern Alaska peninsula, and authorities later confirmed the existence of ash particles, reported the Huffington Post.

In 1912, the largest eruption of the 20th century occurred from June 6 to June 8, 1912 known as the Katmai Explosion. The eruption came from a volcanic vent later named Novarupta. Rated a 6 on the volcanic explosivity index, the volcano erupted for 60 hours and spewed out 13 to 15 cubic kilometers of magma. How much magma does that compare to? Novarupta released 30 times the volume of magma and 10 times more powerful as the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

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