Northwest Digest

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Eruption launches 812-mile-tall plume

ANCHORAGE - Augustine Volcano erupted Tuesday morning, sending an ash plume 812 miles into the air, officials at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said.

Because winds are moving in different directions at different elevations, an ash fall advisory was issued for communities along the southwest portion of the Kenai Peninsula and east of the volcano, in the Kamishak and Iliamna bays.

"Light ash can be expected, nothing that would accumulate in any thickness," said Michelle Coombs, a geologist at the observatory.

The eruption lasted for five minutes, and started just before 8 a.m.

Tuesday's eruption was likely similar in style to the six significant eruptions last week, "but a little more energetic," Coombs said.

Most of last week's eruptions reached 30,000 feet, or about 512 miles. However, a pilot reported one plume at the 10-mile level.

Tuesday's eruption was preceded by increased seismic activity at the volcano, located on an uninhabited island about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage. That prompted observatory officials to raise the volcano's threat level to red, meaning an eruption was imminent.

Last week's blasts sent plumes of ash drifting northeast across Cook Inlet into several Kenai Peninsula communities, where a fine layer of ash fell.

The most recent explosion occurred just after midnight on Saturday. It was followed by a lull lasting into Sunday afternoon, when officials had lowered the earlier red warning level to orange.

Juneau girl cited after three-vehicle accident

JUNEAU - A 16-year-old Juneau girl was cited for careless driving Tuesday morning, after crashing her 2000 Ford Explorer into the rear of a stopped 1998 Dodge Durango and causing a three-vehicle accident on Egan Drive near the Salmon Creek intersection.

The accident, just before 8 a.m., partially blocked off the left inbound lane of Egan. The Durango, driven by a 36-year-old woman, was propelled into the back of a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban, driven by a 37-year-old woman.

No injuried were reported, but the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango both sustained $9,000 in damage. The Chevrolet Suburban suffered $1,500 in damage.

Elevator motor smokes up Capitol

JUNEAU -A malfunctioning elevator motor spread light, blue smoke through the top floor of the State Capitol on Tuesday night.

The smoke was reported at about 9:50 p.m. and Capital City Fire and Rescue trucks arrived on the scene, on Fifth Street behind the building, shortly afterward. No flames were visible from the outside the building.

Investigators entered the building at 9:56 p.m. and traced the light smoke to the elevator. The building's maintenance man was called in, and power was cut to the elevator so the motor could be inspected.

Most fire trucks were cleared to return to the station by 10:15 p.m.

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