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Russia volcano disrupts Alaska flights for third day in a row

The Shiveluch volcano as seen from the International Space Station in July 2007.
NASA via public domain
The Shiveluch volcano as seen from the International Space Station in July 2007.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m. Tuesday:

According to Alaska Airlines, flights resumed their scheduled routes on Friday afternoon.

UPDATE 5:10 p.m. Friday:

Alaska Airlines had canceled 82 flights as of 3 p.m. Friday, bringing total cancellations for the airline to over 130 since Thursday, according to an airline spokesperson.

An ash cloud that has drifted from a Russian volcano to Alaska is disrupting travel across the state for the third day in a row.

Alaska Airlines had canceled 37 flights as of 11 a.m. on Friday, bringing total cancellations for the airline to over 90 since Wednesday, according to an airline spokesperson, who said the destinations were “too numerous to list.” The cancellations have impacted flights to and from Alaska, and within the state.

The airline also warned that more cancellations are possible, and delays are likely throughout the day. They’re specifically monitoring the location and movement of the ash cloud over Southeast Alaska. The National Weather Service’s aviation warning includes parts of that region.

The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Friday encouraged travelers to check their flight status before coming to the airport.

The ash cloud is hanging over the Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific ocean, said Nathan Eckstein, a science and operations officer at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Anchorage.

“We have kind of a complicated system because this volcanic cloud is wrapped into a low that’s south of the Gulf of Alaska,” he said. “Some parts of it have gone into British Columbia and the Yukon and Western Canada.”

Tendrils of the volcanic cloud have even moved over Washington State. The cloud is made up of sulfur dioxide gas and some ash. Don Moore, the acting manager of the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and the ash advisory center, said it can be difficult to distinguish between ash and gas in satellite imagery, but that they believe there is still significant ash extending across Southeast Alaska and into the gulf.

"It's definitely lasting longer than we expected it to," he said. "And unfortunately, this low is just going to cause it to spin, generally speaking, around the Gulf of Alaska."

Meanwhile, the advisory center is analyzing images to see how the cloud is breaking up and where the pieces may move next.

“The ash is not going to stay suspended forever, it’s going to fall out, it’s going to get rained out if it’s underneath clouds that are precipitating,” Eckstein said.

He said ash in the cloud will likely disperse in the next few days.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Correction: The Alaska Air spokesperson said in an email the affected destinations were too numerous to list, not to count.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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