Alaska volcano erupts – and disrupts flights

Image: Pavlof eruption
Colt Snapp captured a picture of the ash plume emanating from Mount Pavlof on Sunday evening as he was flying to Anchorage from Dutch Harbor. (Credit: Colt Snapp via Twitter)

The spectacular eruption of Alaska’s Mount Pavlof had a not-so-spectacular effect on airline schedules today: Alaska Airlines said it had to cancel 41 flights to and from six cities in northern Alaska due to the massive ash cloud emanating from Pavlof.

More than 3,000 passengers were affected by today’s cancellations, Alaska Airlines said in a travel advisory. Flights to Barrow, Bethel, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Nome and Prudhoe Bay are suspended until the airline can assess weather reports after dawn Tuesday.

Anchorage’s KTVA TV said Bering Air, PenAir and Ravn Alaska canceled flights this morning, but at least some of those airlines returned to normal schedules later in the day.

Mount Pavlof, 600 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula, is one of the state’s most consistently active volcanoes. The 8,261-foot peak began erupting on Sunday afternoon, sending ash to heights in excess of 20,000 feet.

KTVA quoted public safety officer Barrett Taylor as saying more than an eighth of an inch of ash had blanketed much of the Aleutian community of Nelson Lagoon. “It was basically raining ash,” Taylor said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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