AD Main Menu

AK Beat: With lava in crater, alert level for volcano in Aleutian Islands bumped up

Alaska Beat
Mount Shishaldin in Alaska's Aleutian Islands during a 1999 eruption. Game McGimsey / AVO/USGS

With lava in crater, Shishaldin bumped to code orange: Observers at the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the aviation color code for Mount Shishaldin from yellow to orange, and the alert level to “watch,” the second-highest level, on Friday. The move came after data from satellites showed an increase in surface temperatures on the Unimak Island volcano, beginning March 18. “Analysis of this data shows that temperatures are consistent with the eruption of lava within the summit crater,” the AVO wrote. “The current activity appears to be confined to the deep summit crater and there have been no observations of lava on the flanks of the volcano or surrounding the summit crater.” The observers also said there was only minor steam emission and no ash emission. Shishaldin had been on at a yellow alert level since Jan. 30. In 1999, the volcano, in the eastern Aleutians, erupted sending a cloud of ash and steam 45,000 feet into the atmosphere.

USNS Mendonca training in Cook Inlet: A supertanker-sized Navy ship, easily spotted from Anchorage, is participating in disaster training as part of Alaska Shield, an annual military training exercise. The 1,000-foot USNS Mendonca, a Navy transport and loading ship, will remain in northern Cook Inlet for about a week, according to Command Sergeant Major Ty Emmans, a military spokesperson. The ship is practicing serving as a temporary port should the Port of Anchorage ever be severely damaged or destroyed by natural disaster. The exercise is part of a statewide effort to drill in preparation of another massive earthquake, like the 1964 9.2 temblor that devastated Alaska.

Anti-synthetic drug bill passes Alaska state Senate: A bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and aimed at stemming the tide of synthetic drugs passed the Alaska Senate on Friday. A companion bill awaits a vote in the House. If passed into law, the bill would go after users and sellers of such drugs as Spice and bath salts by imposing a $500 fine on anyone caught with the drug or the packaging. The bill mimics an ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly in January, which also requires packages of the drugs -- often sold in head shops, tobacco stores, and convenience stores -- to contain information about the ingredients, intended uses, and the manufacturer of the drugs.

Police seek help finding shooter who killed two: The Anchorage Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating the person responsible for killing two men inside a tent near downtown in early March. Police say Mae Melovidov, 47, and Robert Workman, 55 were killed. A third unidentified victim was critically injured but is expected to survive. All three were inside a tent near 5th Avenue and Karluk Street around 6 p.m. when a lone male entered the campsite, pulled the door of the tent open and fired several shots. Police say the suspect fled on foot and remains at large. Police are asking people who have information about the shooter to call Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP or submit tips anonymously at www.anchoragecrimestoppers.com. 

Southeast Alaskans protest proposed Canadian mines: A group of Alaskans were in Washington, D.C. earlier this week to lobby the federal government, but in this case, it didn’t have to do with anything the feds have direct jurisdiction over. The group -- made up of representatives of 40 businesses, tribes, environmental groups and commercial fisherman -- was lobbying the federal government over proposed mines in British Columbia, reports Toronto’s Globe and Mail. The mines are part of a push by B.C. Premier Christy Clark to develop new mines in the province, but opponents say they threaten several important salmon rivers that drain into Southeast Alaska -- particularly the Stikine, the Taku and the Unuk. Brian Lynch, executive director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, is one of those opposing the mines, and he complained about the speed at which environmental approvals were being issued, questioning whether B.C.’s Ministry of Environment could adequately perform that much work so quickly. Lynch “said Alaskans are worried about acidic wastewater leaching from the mine site, perhaps for hundreds of years,” the Globe and Mail noted.

Online #sealfie campaign promotes Inuit hunting traditions: Canadian Inuit peoples are protesting Ellen DeGeneres's criticism of seal hunting with "sealfie" photos of their own, according to The Guardian. DeGeneres Tweeted a star-studded Oscar night "selfie" picture that included celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts and herself, just to name a few. Samsung, which makes the phone used to take and share the photo, promised DeGeneres a $1 donation to the charity of her choice for each re-Tweet, or share, the photo received. The image became the most re-Tweeted image in Twitter history and in doing so the afternoon talk show host raised $1.5 million for the Humane Society of the United States, which works to end seal hunting. DeGeneres' website calls seal hunting "one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government." Now indigenous Canadians from the Arctic are fighting back by tweeting photographs of themselves in sealskin and sharing them with the hashtag #sealfie in an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of seal hunting to Inuit culture. You can see "sealfie" photos by searching Twitter for #sealfie -- or check out a CBC roundup of some favorite images.

Alaska Airlines adds two new routes: No more frantic underground digging and missing left turns -- Bugs Bunny can now take a plane. Alaska Airlines announced Friday it is beginning non-stop service to Albuquerque, N.M., and Baltimore, Md., from its Seattle hub. The airline announced some of the one-way fares will be as low as $99. With the two added cities, Alaska Airlines now serves more than 95 cities across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Mentasta man killed in Old Richardson Highway rollover crash: Alaska State Troopers said 32-year-old Charles David III of Mentasta was killed when his car left the road and overturned near Copper Center, 195 miles northeast of Anchorage, at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday. Troopers said David was ejected from his 2000 Chevy Monte Carlo in the crash, and they do not believe David was wearing a seatbelt. Troopers said they believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. The roads conditions at the time of the crash were reported to be dry and clear. David's body has been taken to Anchorage for an autopsy.