High Winds Loft Century-Old Volcanic Ash Into Alaska's Air

Brian Donegan
Published: November 13, 2017

Volcanic ash from the Mount Katmai eruption in 1912 was lofted into the Alaskan air by high winds over the weekend.

Mount Katmai is a large stratovolcano, also known as a composite cone, on the Alaska Peninsula in southern Alaska, nearly 270 miles southwest of Anchorage. It's located within Katmai National Park and Preserve.

(MORE: Five Unusual Things From the Past Week's Weather)

The volcano last erupted from June to July 1912, leaving behind a deposit of ash on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island, the west coast of which is some 50 miles southeast of Mount Katmai.

That ash still remains in the region to this day, and it was spotted on visible satellite imagery over Kodiak Island on Saturday afternoon as offshore winds suspended it into the air.

About 24 hours earlier, webcams on the Westside of Kodiak Island captured reduced visibility Friday afternoon due to the volcanic ash, as seen in the before-and-after imagery below.

"This phenomenon is not the result of new volcanic activity, but occurs seasonally in the spring and fall during times of high winds and dry, snow-free conditions in the Katmai area and in other young volcanic areas of Alaska," the United States Geological Survey said in an April 2016 release. "USGS works closely with the National Weather Service, which issues forecasts and statements of resuspended volcanic ash."

Brian Donegan is a digital meteorologist at weather.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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