HOMER - Snowflakes laced with fine, gray ash fell on communities south of Anchorage as a series of volcanic eruptions continued early Saturday on an uninhabited island dozens of miles away.
Plumes of ash from the volcano drifted across Cook Inlet and into Homer, 75 miles to the east, halting air travel and closing schools in some Kenai Peninsula communities Friday.
The 4,134-foot Augustine Volcano began erupting Wednesday after a 20-year lull. By Saturday morning, it had erupted at least eight times, and scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said they expect more eruptions over the next several days or weeks.
"We're just sitting here waiting for the next event," said Peter Cervelli, research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey office in Anchorage.
The ash clouds can pose a health risk, especially for people with respiratory problems, and they can damage the engines of aircraft and vehicles on the ground.
Alaska Airlines, which canceled 28 flight into Anchorage and Fairbanks on Friday and early Saturday as a safety precaution, resumed its schedule Saturday morning, but officials said they would still keep a cautionary eye on the wind and volcano.
Charlie Franz, chief executive officer of South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, said his staff was putting extra filters in the hospital's air handling system.
"Just don't go out if you don't have to," he said. "I think that's probably the best advice people can get.