The Alaska Volcano Observatory has raised their warning to orange today, the second highest on its four-step scale for aviation alerts. Reports came out yesterday detailing a yellow warning for the active volcano known as Mount Cleveland, which has been acting up in recent weeks according to officials monitoring the remote volcano. Mount Cleveland is a 5,675 foot peak located on the uninhabited Aleutian Islands which are located southwest of Alaska’s mainland. The volcano has exploded every year since 2005, and was most active in the later part of 2011. Back in 2001 Mount Cleveland Volcano erupted with ash clouds as reaching 75 miles above sea level! Scientists believe this could happen again, and soon.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory has reported earlier this week that, ”A new lava dome has been observed in the summit crater,” the observatory said Tuesday. “There have been no observations of ash emissions or explosive activity during this current lava eruption.”
Officials are monitoring a remote Alaska volcano that could launch an ash cloud, potentially threatening intercontinental flights.
Scientist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said, “Mount Cleveland is about 940 miles southwest of Anchorage and about 70 miles from the nearest town. While it hasn’t produced an ash cloud large enough to disrupt air travel in recent history, records indicate it has the potential to do so. It threw a cloud up to a height of 18,000 feet on December 29, 2011.”
This type of volcanic activity and the resulting ash cloud could dramatically affect air travel. A scientist named Steve McNutt from the University of Alaska Fairbanks told CNN that, ”90% of air freight from Asia to Europe and North America flies over Alaska air space, and hundreds of flights — including more than 20,000 passengers — fly through Anchorage’s air space daily.”
We all can remember last year’s volcanic explosion by Iceland’s Grimsvotn, which wreaked havoc on international air travel. It looks as if we could see another similar catastrophe over Alaskan airways. The situation will continue to monitored closely by officials to determine if this new lava dome at Mount Cleveland will result in another manageable explosion similar to the instances throughout 2011, or if its going to be a significant event that we need to make preparations for.