After a huge eruption of ash, Mount Veniaminof quiets down

A plume of ash erupted from the Veniaminof volcano and traveled past the village of Perryville on Nov. 21, 2018. (Photo courtesy Kaylynn Bernice/Alaska Volcano Observatory)

Last Tuesday night Mount Veniaminof began emitting a plume of ash that reached up to 13,000 feet and extended for more than 250 miles to the southeast. Some people in the village of Perryville heard the eruption. The next day, they spotted the cloud.

“The worst was probably the day after it exploded,” said Victoria Tague, a sub-administrator for the village. “In the middle of the night you could hear the rumbling coming, and I was able hear it over the TV, which was kind of really freaky. We couldn’t necessarily see the volcano, but all we were able to see was the huge ash cloud that came out of it.”

As a result of the eruption, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality advisory for the Alaska Peninsula. The state’s Health Emergency Response Operations and Kanakanak Hospital coordinated to send several hundred masks out to communities in the region. Tague said that ashfall in Perryville was light — the bulk of the ash cloud missed the village. But she said it still impacted residents.

“Most people were covering up their faces when they would go outside. They could feel it on their face. Their sinuses would act up, their eyes would burn, their lips would burn,” she explained.

The volcanic activity has calmed down significantly over the weekend, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

“We can still see some elevated surface temperatures from satellite data, but there’s no significant ash emissions that we can tell,” said AVO geophysicist Aaron Wech. “Things are kind of back to the status quo, where it’s still erupting, there’s still probably lava effusion going on. But it’s much more like it’s been in the weeks past, rather than the extra-elevated activity that we had last week.”

The AVO has lowered the Aviation Color Code to “orange,” and the alert level is now at “watch.”

Veniaminof became active in early September.