Russia volcano disrupts Alaska flights for third day in a row

a volcano
On February 17, 2008, the skies above Shiveluch Volcano in Russia’s Far East were clear and calm, allowing the ASTER instrument on NASAs Terra satellite to catch this view of a column of ash from a recent eruption seemingly frozen in the air over the mountain. (NASA image)

An ash cloud that has drifted from a Russian volcano to Alaska is disrupting travel across the state for the third day in a row

Alaska Airlines had canceled 37 flights as of 11 a.m. on Friday, bringing total cancellations for the airline to over 90 since Wednesday, according to an airline spokesperson, who said the destinations were “too numerous to list.” The cancellations have impacted flights to and from Alaska, and within the state. 

The airline also warned that more cancellations are possible, and delays are likely throughout the day. They’re specifically monitoring the location and movement of the ash cloud over Southeast Alaska. The National Weather Service’s aviation warning includes parts of that region.

The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Friday encouraged travelers to check their flight status before coming to the airport.

The ash cloud is hanging over the Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific ocean, said Nathan Eckstein, a science and operations officer at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Anchorage.

“We have kind of a complicated system because this volcanic cloud is wrapped into a low that’s south of the Gulf of Alaska,” he said. “Some parts of it have gone into British Columbia and the Yukon and Western Canada.” 

Tendrils of the volcanic cloud have even moved over Washington State. The cloud is made up of sulfur dioxide gas — and some ash. Eckstein says they’re analyzing images to see how the cloud is breaking up and where the pieces may move next.

“The ash is not going to stay suspended forever, it’s going to fall out, it’s going to get rained out if it’s underneath clouds that are precipitating,” he said.

He said that any ash in the cloud will likely disperse in the next few days.

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