Pavlof Volcano is awake again on the Alaska Peninsula.
Pilots and residents in Cold Bay started seeing ash rising from the volcano on Wednesday. Now, the Alaska Volcano Observatory has confirmed that Pavlof is erupting.
“There is a minor amount of ash being thrown out, as high as possibly 9,000 feet,” says lead scientist John Power. “And our satellite imagery indicates that there is a very hot ground, most likely associated with lava fountaining taking place at the summit of the volcano.”
Ron Bowers is from Dillingham, but he’s in Cold Bay right now, about 40 miles from Pavlof. He watched the eruption starting on Wednesday night:
“It was just an awesome display — what a lightshow. The ash was really pouring out from the east side of the mountain, and all of a sudden it just started glowing red,” Bowers says. “And it just started erupting, and it just stayed a big giant ball of red flame and lava coming up out of the mountain.”
That kind of activity could go on for several weeks or months, with varying levels of intensity. Historically, Pavlof’s been one of the most active volcanos in the state. But John Power at the AVO says it’s not very predictable.
“What we saw earlier this year is probably our best guide to what we’ll see this time,” Power says.
Pavlof erupted for about a week this past June, sending up an ash plume to more than 20,000 feet above sea level. That caused regional airlines to cancel a string of flights.
Grant Aviation and PenAir say the ash from Pavlof hasn’t gotten in their way yet. But bad weather has: Some flights were delayed and even grounded this week. Representatives from both companies say they’ll be monitoring the volcano closely.
KDLG’s Dave Bendinger contributed to this report.