Sunday morning, and so far no events with Redoubt since last night at around 7:23PM. Today follows an eventful day, Saturday, of 5 significant eruptions. And only hours after the Saturday morning post, our luck would waver as one of those eruptions did in fact emit a trace of ash fall on Nikiski. As well areas of South Anchorage, Whittier and as far as Valdez saw ash fall from this event. What does ash fall mean to us, you ask? It means a slight deviation from daily life. Fortunately it was literally a trace. But things like trying to avoid letting the dogs roll in it, ash being tracked in on their paws....our shoes. The key is to keep it all to a minimum as it is harsh for electronics like tv's, computer, and is a bit nasty on the lungs and eyes. Again, with such little ash we are lucky I suppose. We thought it was good news that a dusting of snowfall overnight would be a good thing. NOT! With the morning temp now above 32 degrees, the trace of snow is melting making the trace of ash a trace of a mess. We will attempt to hose down the main decks this morning to wash it off on the main entrances. But with inches thick of ice on walkways, portions of the decks and feet of snow in everywhere else there is only so much we can do.
View from Soldotna minutes after the initial explosion.
This is the 'mushroom cloud' that John saw.
Yesterday at 3:29PM the eruption occurred and sent a cloud to 25,000 feet. This is relatively a low altitude compared to most of the other eruptions that have occurred. Maryann and I had just come back from running the dogs out at the high school. Shortly after we arrived home, John called, from his way home from Sterling, and said that the cloud was huge and looked like a mushroom cloud. Probably 10 minutes after his call Maryann said in that voice that always makes me think "oh crap", "hey honey, it's getting dark...oh, sh*^....". Excitement was elevated as this was quick moving and significantly lower than the last cloud taken from the house here.
Maryann is like....a superwoman of sort, as she managed to feed all 3 dogs, potty them and get these picks as it got darker by the minute. Heres to all the 'Mom's' and wives of the world!
This is the Southern most edge of the cloud as we were litterally on the edge of the ash cloud which eventually continued to drift NorthEast of us.
As usual, pictures do no justice, but you can see here a sample of how the snow looked like it was being peppered.
Left click this one and you can see the ash a little better. As I said, it was only a trace. It was very hard and particulate, and with the melting snow covering it this morning it became much like wet cement yet still very particulate in form.
As I walked out in the main room she is pasted face to the window looking up and a huge cloud was rapidly moving over us. Now at this point, she cleverly thinks to feed the dogs so she can let them out real quick to go potty, and I go out to back my truck into the garage, re-cover the garage heater vent, and try to re-secure the tarp over her truck, all of the time watching this thing get darker, and lower. We finished everything (most of what we do in response to an eruption was still in place from 3 days ago) and just stood outside looking up in awe, and figuring that this time we were going to get ash. You could hear thunder, not from anything but the ash cloud, echoing through the sky. Minutes later Maryann went inside and I went out on the back deck. I was standing there and felt something hit my head, like hail. At the same time I heard what sounded like sand starting to pelt the tarp over the hot tub. This is about the time I went in and seconds later it looked like gray snow across the lake, and all of the trees were beginning to turn gray. It looks like the snow was being peppered, and these little tiny gray hail looking balls were covering the deck. In all, it lasted about 15 minutes as the cloud began to blow further to the North. When you think about it, it is actually an intense feeling. To be standing out having rock, that was pulverized from an earthly explosion, sent flying 25,000 feet in the air, and then falling 60 miles away....on my head, no less. Wow. For a moment, I realized once again how very small we are. And so we deal with it considering ourselves lucky, all wondering if this is it, or if there is more to come. In the 1989/1990 eruptions, there was significantly more ash fall, and about 20 eruptions strung out over a 6 month period. This time around, the ash has been very little in quantity, yet we have had close to 20 eruptions in the past 6 days. Interestingly we haven't had any lava come out of the volcano to this point. Apparently it is still possible for 'red hot magma'. The explosions have blown away the dome that was building. It has been said that it is "like the volcano clearing it's throat" of old rock from pressure build up. Once the pressure is gone and the vent is clear, it is easier to allow lava to flow to the surface.
One thing I can assure you. We moved here knowing that we were in 'the ring of fire'. And not a day goes by without thanking God for being able to live here. And even now, after the past week and realizing that it may possibly get worse, we still thank God for being able to be here. The benefits of our move to Alaska have far outweighed by any stretch of the imagination any disadvantages. If you offered to by our cabin in Dorrington back for us, paid for, and assured us that our business there and clientele would begin again where it left off.....we still would never leave here. No, Alaska is beautiful with so many advantages to us, and yet many still to be had. Volcano's are a part of life here, much as violent crime and unrest are to large cities, forest fires to Arnold and Dorrington, tornado's to the Midwest. In fact, anywhere USA has it's situations that we find ourselves out of control of. Happy Sunday to all, and lets hope Redoubt is starting to wind down. At least that is our hope!