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Redoubt Ash Cloud Raises Food Shortage Concerns

By: Accuweather.com
By: Accuweather.com

Mount Redoubt erupted twice Thursday morning and once Thursday night, sending an ash cloud as high as 65,000 feet into the atmosphere. An initial eruption occurred at 8:34 a.m. local time, with a second, more powerful eruption 50 minutes later at 9:24 a.m. local time. The second eruption was one of the largest in recent days. A third eruption then occurred later Thursday night local time around 11:48 p.m, sending another ash cloud 38,000 feet high.

Located close to Anchorage--Alaska's principle city--Mount Redoubt has erupted repeatedly in recent days. Although no injuries have been reported, Thursday's ash clouds forced the cancellation of all Alaskan Airlines flights in and out of Anchorage. Several other airline companies also cancelled or diverted flights around the volcano.

With experts predicting that eruptions could continue for several months, the state of Alaska is fearing the possibility of food shortages. Alaska receives a large portion of its food and supplies via air travel, with Anchorage being a major hub for this transport. Especially during the winter months, air travel is the only method of food transport, as seas in the Arctic Ocean are too rough and clogged with ice to allow transport by boat.

Redoubt Volcano lies within the Chigmit Mountains, just over 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. At this time, AccuWeather.com meteorologists do not foresee any major ash affecting Anchorage or the nearby metropolitan area, as most of the ash will travel west of the area in the next 24 hours. However, late in the day Thursday, a trace of ash was reported outside the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage.

Mount Redoubt Statistics:

Height: 10,197 feet
Location: 60.5 degrees N, 152.7 degrees W; 101 miles WSW ANC
Last erupted: 1989-1990
Cloaked in permanent snow/ice (big, active glaciers)

Threats:

1) Explosive eruption with airborne ash in a busy passenger jet corridor (volcanic ash can disable jet engines).
2) Floods triggered by melting snow/ice.
3) Lahars (volcanic mud/ash flows) triggered by melting snow and ice mingling with new or old volcanic ash/rock.
4) A major eruption could trigger landslides.

Story by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards and News Correspondent Gina Cherundolo


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