As of Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service has not issued any notices for Southeast concerning possible effects from the volcanic eruption of Mount Redoubt, which experts say is imminent.
Geologists on Saturday spotted expanded holes in the glacier that clings to the north side of the mountain, and rivulets of water streaming down its side, as they closely monitored the volcano.
There's just too many meteorological and volcanic variables in play to make predictions, said Nikki Becker, a hydrometeorological technician with the Weather Service's Juneau office.
"We won't know until it erupts," she said.
In Anchorage, about 100 miles from the volcano, locals are buying up dust masks and goggles in anticipation of the eruption. In Juneau, which is about 650 miles from the volcano, precautions would be "definitely very speculative," Becker said.
Mount Redoubt last erupted in 1990. Alaska volcanoes typically start with an explosion that can shoot ash 50,000 feet high and into the jet stream but there are warning signs because magma causes small earthquakes as it moves.
Southeast will have more lead time after an eruption to get warnings out if necessary, though Becker couldn't offer an estimate of how much time.
"If something were to affect Southeast, we'd notify people as soon as possible," she said.
Volcanic ash can travel extreme distances and cause health and aviation risks thousands of miles from the point of origin. Last August, an Aleutian volcano some 1,600 miles from Juneau erupted on a Thursday. Winds carried an ash cloud into Alaska Airlines' routes, leading to 44 canceled flights and more than 5,000 stranded travelers in Alaska and in West coast cities by the following Monday.
Becker said that ash cloud was reported over Southeast, but not on the ground.
The Anchorage office of the Weather Service has prepared information about Mount Redoubt on its Web site. Ash trajectory models, weather statements and other volcano resources are available online at www.pafc.arh.noaa.gov/volcano.php.
Dan Joling with The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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