Volcano eruption in Alaska may disrupt flights to Asia

Alaska’s Bogoslof Volcano, in the Aleutian Islands, erupted at 2:16 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). Scientists say the eruption, which lasted 55 minutes, blasted a 35,000-foot plume of ash into the air, creating the need for the highest cautionary aviation alert, Aviation Color Code RED.

Clouds of ash from erupting volcanoes can disrupt jet engines, and some airlines operating between North America and Asia could be affected.

Following the initial explosion, the Bogoslof Volcano stopped emitting ash and seismic activity stayed low. The AVO has now lowered the Aviation Color Code to ORANGE and the Alert Level to WATCH, but warn, “Additional ash-producing eruptions could occur at any time, however, with no detectable precursors.”

In an update, the AVO writes:

Pilot Reports indicate that a volcanic cloud from yesterday’s eruption has been detected drifting to the northeast of Bogoslof and a SIGMET aviation warning message has been issued by the National Weather Service. Please see the NWS AAWU at http://aawu.arh.noaa.gov/sigmets.php for updated information on aviation warning messages.

Bogoslof volcano remains at a heightened state of unrest and in an unpredictable condition. Activity may ramp back up with additional explosions producing high-altitude (>15,000 ft) volcanic clouds with little precursory activity.

Volcano eruptions can significantly delay air traffic. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano grounded tens of thousands of flights in Europe.

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