Transportation Impacts from the Mt. Redoubt Eruptions 2009

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 11:15 AM
B206 (GWCC)
Jeffrey M. Osiensky, NOAA/NWS, Anchorage, AK; and C. Neal, G. Ferguson, T. Hall, and B. Nelson

Mount Redoubt in southcentral Alaska is an active volcano that the National Weather Service (NWS) actively monitors due to its recent history of eruptions. A series of eruptions of the volcano began on March 22, 2009 and continued into April 2009. Approximately 20 significant eruptions (producing ash in excess of 25,000 feet) were observed during that period with one explosion sending ash to at least 65,000 feet.

The volcano has had a history of significant eruptions with the last period occurring in December 1989 through January 1990. During that time, a major explosion on December 15, 1989, produced a significant ash plume that drifted well north of the volcano. A KLM jet enroute from Amsterdam to Anchorage encountered the ash plume during its initial descent near Talkeetna, Alaska at which time the aircraft lost all four of its engines. Luckily, the pilot was able to restart all four engines only after a several thousand foot loss in altitude. That aircraft landed safely in Anchorage after sustaining $80M in damages.

This most recent eruptive episode during March and April of 2009 caused major impacts to air transportation in and out of Anchorage for both passengers and cargo. Two major lahars (mudflows caused by melting glaciers) moved down the Drift River Valley and had major impacts to the Drift River Oil Terminal. Ashfall in the Anchorage area caused Elmendorf Air Force Base to relocate air assets to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Washington. Airline cancellations, diversions, and turn-arounds due to Redoubt accounted for millions of dollars in losses to the airlines.