Ash falls on Anchorage as volcano keeps spewing

March 29th, 2009 By MARY PEMBERTON , Associated Press Writer in Earth / Earth Sciences

(AP) -- Alaska's Mount Redoubt continued to erupt Saturday, sending plumes of ash tens of thousands of feet into the air that rained down on at least one Alaska town

Also, for the first time, the spewed a thin layer of on Anchorage - enough to force the shutdown of the state's largest airport.

The volcano got started early Saturday by sending an 50,000 feet into the air.

A second eruption occurred shortly after 2 p.m. and sent ash 25,000 feet. Another occurred about an hour and a half later and sent ash 35,000 feet into the air.

Some of it came down on Nikiski, a community across Cook Inlet about 50 miles from the volcano. A thinner layer fell on Anchorage, Alaska's largest city about 100 miles northeast of the volcano.

"The volcano is very mad at us for something. It is kind of grouchy," said Chris Waythomas, a geologist at the Volcano Observatory in Anchorage.

Linda Superman, owner of the Hunger Hut Bar in Nikiski, said the town received about one-eighth of an inch of ash. She said she was taking buckets of hot water and throwing them on the windshields of customers' cars so that the ash wouldn't scratch the glass when they turned their wipers on.

"It is all over," she said. "You can actually see the ash blowing through the air."

Another large explosion occurred at 7:23 p.m. Radar showed an ash plume 45,000 feet high.

After the first eruption, the observatory detected strong lasting 20 minutes or more followed by an hours-long low-level tremor.

Alaska Airlines, the state's largest carrier, canceled all flights in and out of Anchorage on Saturday afternoon after Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport shut down because of the ash.

Since the volcano began erupting last Sunday, Alaska Airlines has canceled about 185 flights. Ash can cause engines to stall.

Since the series of eruptions began Sunday night, the volcano has had about a dozen bursts. The last time the volcano erupted was during a four-month period in 1989-90.

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"Ash falls on Anchorage as volcano keeps spewing." March 29th, 2009. http://phys.org/news157533324.html