Shishaldin volcano eruptions intensify, prompting alert
The Alaska Volcano Observatory has raised the alert level for Mount Shishaldin to code red due to ongoing eruptions that continue to intensify. This level of alert means that a major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both on the ground and in the air.
Shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday, the volcano erupted sending a volcanic ash cloud as high as 27,000 feet. Satellite data shows the ash cloud drifting to the east-northeast near 70 mph, which prompted the National Weather Service to issue a weather advisory for aircraft. Ash has already been reported at nearly 60 miles away in Cold Bay, with areas as far east as Sand Point potentially seeing impacts from the ash cloud.
According to the NWS, ash is an eye and respiratory irritant and is abrasive. You should protect electronics and cover air intakes in areas that are downstream of the volcanic ash.
It is possible for the current activity to intensify or decrease with little warning and the Alaska Volcano Observatory says new notices will be issued as warranted.
Shishaldin has been active since July 12 of last year, with this marking the third prominent eruption. On Dec. 12, a short-lived explosion produced an ash cloud to 20,000-25,000 feet which dissipated within a couple of hours. The AVO says the eruptive activity continued into late December with lava flows and low-level explosive activity at the summit. It erupted again on Jan. 3, sending an ash cloud as high as 27,000 feet and produced minor amounts of volcanic lightning.
Shishaldin Volcano is located near the center of Unimak Island. The volcano is a symmetric cone with a base diameter of approximately 10 miles. At least 54 episodes of unrest and 24 confirmed eruptions have occurred since 1775. While most eruptions are small, there have been some significant large ones. An eruption in the spring of 1999 generated an ash cloud that reached 45,000 feet.