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False Pass Experiences Ash Fallout After Shishaldin Sends Volcanic Cloud 30,000 Feet

Chris Stewart

Updated 01/20/20 at 10:30 a.m.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) has decreased the Aviation Color Code to "orange" and Alert Level to "watch" for Shishaldin Volcano. 

Ash emissions declined greatly Sunday night and seismicity is currently low. A SIGMET warning from the National Weather Service is still in effect for the detached volcanic cloud drifting east-southeast over the Pacific Ocean.

"Low-level steam and ash emissions may be ongoing from the summit vent," said the AVO in a press release. "It is possible for more significant eruption to resume with little warning."


Original Story from 01/19/20

An eruption at Shishaldin Volcano – located on Unimak Island about 23 miles southwest of the community of False Pass – intensified today, generating an ash-rich volcanic plume that is drifting to the south-southeast.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) has increased the Aviation Color Code to "red" and Alert Level to "warning." The National Weather Service has issued a SIGMET warning.

"The volcanic cloud extends up to [approximately] 90 miles from the volcano, with its top as high as 30,000 feet," said the AVO in a press release.

Chris Stewart is the Village Public Safety Officer in False Pass, where some trace ash fall has been reported. He said some precautions have been put in place. The local clinic is prepared and recommending community members wear N95 particulate masks and eye protection to protect against fine ash particles.

Credit Courtesy of Woodsen Saunders
The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) has increased the Aviation Color Code to "red" and Alert Level to "warning," following an ash eruption at Shishaldin Volcano.

"You can see [the ash fall] on top of the snow, but it's not to the point where it's coating everything yet," said Stewart. "Since the wind has died down here so much, we do have a really great view of the ash cloud. We have a purple horizon to the west right now."

Stewart said this is the first time the community has had ash fallout this year, despite a number of eruptions at the volcano in the past few weeks.

The AVO is monitoring the volcano closely. While there are no indications of a major eruption, Shishaldin is a volcano with an ability to ramp up quickly.

It is one of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutian Island chain. It has had at least 54 episodes of unrest, including over 24 confirmed eruptions, since 1775.

Nat Herz with Alaska Public Media contributed reporting from Anchorage.

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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