June 27, 2013
Alaska Volcano Intensifies, Sends Ash Five Miles Into The Sky

An Alaska volcano that for the last two months has caused problems for locals and disrupted flights with its stream of ash and smoke grew in intensity this week, sending a plume of ash five miles into the sky.

The Pavlof Volcano is located close to 600 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaskan Peninsula. For the last six weeks it has been erupting, but on Tuesday it entered its most powerful phase yet. Blasts in the crater of the 8,261-foot volcano that started late on Monday have shaken the area and left geologists puzzled.

"For some reason we can't explain, it picked up in intensity and vigor," said Tina Neal, an observatory geologist.

The ash from the Alaska volcano has reached high enough to affect smaller planes, which have had to divert around the area. The ash would have to reach higher to disrupt larger aircraft, officials said.

The eruptions have also left the small town of King Cove, located about 30 miles from the base of the volcano, covered in ash. The National Weather Service has recommended that people with breathing problems in the area take precautions and warned that electrical equipment might be harmed by the ash.

The Alaska volcano also caused problems back in May, sending a smaller ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air. The ash was visible for miles, giving residents concern that it would damage power generators.

“Everybody is thinking about it," said air traffic controller John Maxwell. "Not that anybody is afraid they’re going to be like Mount Vesuvius and turn into little mummies.”

Pavlof is not the only Alaska volcano causing problems. There have also been eruptions at Veniaminof, and Cleveland Volcano, located 940 miles from Anchorage, has erupted on and off since 2011. Cleveland Volcano has not produced activity since May 6, however.

[Alaska Volcano image via US Fish and Wildlife Services]