Pavlof Volcano: Ash Cloud Rises 20,000 Feet, Causes Cancellation Of Flights

Pavlof Volcano: Ash Cloud Rises 20,000 Feet, Causes Cancellation Of Flights
RAINIER launch RA-5 underway off Alaska Peninsula. Pavlof Volcano and Pavlof Sister are in the background. NOAA Photo Library / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Flights were cancelled, and travel to western and northern Alaskan communities was restricted as a result of an ash cloud from an active volcano that moved towards the heart of the state.


Pavlof Volcano, situated around 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaskan Peninsula, erupted Sunday at around 4 p.m. As an active volcano, the ash cloud responsible for the cancellation of flights rose to an elevation of 20,000 feet.

Geologist Chris Waythomas of the US Geological Survey, part of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, along with the University of Alaska and the state Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, said, “It’s right in the wheelhouse of a lot of flights crisscrossing Alaska.”

Alaska Airlines said on Monday that as many as 41 flights involving six Alaskan cities were cancelled, FOX News reports. All of these flights were either to or from Fairbanks. Flights traveling to Barrow, Bethel, Kotzebue, Nome and Deadhorse have been cancelled. As a result, almost 3,300 passengers have been affected. The cancellations will remain in effect until weather reports will be evaluated after daylight on Tuesday.

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The volcano has been known to have erupted 40 times in the past. About 4.4 miles in diameter, its symmetrical shape results in eruptions that are far less damage causing. “It can erupt for periods of hours to days or it can go on for much longer periods of time,” Waythomas said. “It won’t erupt continuously for many months or a year. It will be intermittent. But the eruption cycle could go on for a while, or it could abruptly shut off and be done tomorrow.”

In December 1989, an ash cloud from an eruption off Mount Redoubt caused the jet engines of a KLM flight, with 231 passengers on board, to flame out, CBS News reports. The pilots restarted the engines and subsequently landed safely after the plane dropped two miles.

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