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Flights Resume in Southwest Alaska

Shifting winds pushed the Pavlof volcano’s ash cloud out of flight paths Wednesday, allowing airlines to resume service. Pen Air’s planes went to Sand Point, Cold Bay, and Unalaska Wednesday after being grounded for two days. CEO Danny Seybert said that ash levels have come down to about 10,000 feet.

“There’s an easterly flow, which is what we wanted, a little bit of wind to blow ash in one direction,” said Seybert.” “All flights are operating normally today.”

Seybert says 18 to 20 flights were held over the past couple days.

“Between all the communities, we had about 300 people waiting to go one direction or another. By the end of Wednesday we should have everyone going where they want to go,” said Seybert.

About 40 miles southwest of Pavlof is Cold Bay, where residents had been on the ground since Saturday. Guy Morgan, Grant Aviation’s Cold Bay Station Manager, said flights went to King Cove and False Pass early Wednesday. Later flights were set for Port Moller and Nelson Lagoon. That’s where small amount of ash fell in earlier this week. Morgan reports that air conditions there have improved. “Yesterday they said there was definitely a little trace of ash in the water they were collecting, they could see it in a white bucket,” said Morgan. “Today the skies were not completely clear but they could see the top of the volcano and a little plume of steam.”

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says Pavlof continues to erupt, although it no longer has a constant seismic tremor. Data shows what appears to be small explosions and hot surface temperatures. If Pavlof is still generating an ash cloud, it’s below a 15-thousand foot layer of clouds.

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