Alaska's Mt. Redoubt erupted last night, spouting a plume of ash 50,000 feet into the air. The ash has disrupted air travel to and from Anchorage, but so far has bypassed Alyeska Resort. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has had their eyes on Mt. Redoubt as seismic rumblings busied on the mountain this winter. Recent shallow earthquakes signaled an increase for potential eruption, and the mountain finally blew in a series of eruptions last night (Sunday. Mar. 22) starting at 10:38 p.m. The mountain erupted five times during the night.
This morning, ash was not expected in Anchorage, which sits only 100 miles from the volcano; however, the National Weather Service issued an ash fall advisory for towns north of Anchorage.
"We were lucky that it blew north," Jason Lott, spokesperson for Alyeska Resort, told OnTheSnow.com this morning. Alyeska sits in Girdwood about 40 miles southeast of Anchorage. "The wind patterns are in our favor." In fact, Alyeska skiers awoke to overnight snows dropping nine inches of powder.
The resort, however, isn't totally in the clear yet. Winds could shift, altering where the ash drops. Explosions last rocked Mt. Redoubt in 1989, eliciting five months of eruptions and persistent ash fall. "Short of a huge blanket, there's nothing we can do to protect the slopes," added Lott. "We have to just wait to see what happens."
The ash from last night's explosions has already disrupted flight paths into Anchorage, prompting Alaska Airlines to cancel 19 flights. Ash poses a serious safety hazard to engines. Travelers heading to Alyeska Resort for skiing can call 800-ALASKAAIR for current information on resuming flights. The Anchorage International Airport is advising travelers flying with other airlines to contact the carriers directly for flight changes.
Meanwhile, Alyeska hopes the ash continues to veer away from the slopes as the resort is hosting the U.S. Alpine Championships this week and the Telepalooza 2009 World Telemark Freeskiing Competition Apr. 1-5. The lifts are scheduled to run until closing day Apr. 26.