Scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory on Saturday raised the alert level for Pavlof Volcano from "watch" (orange) to "warning" (red) Saturday as an ash cloud rose 25,000 feet above sea level, increasing to 35,000 feet by late Saturday afternoon.
AVO uses the U.S. Geological Survey's color coding system for volcanic alerts. Red indicates "eruption is imminent with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere likely OR eruption is underway or suspected with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere."
"Satellite, pilot reports, and wind data show the ash cloud moving towards the northwest over the Bering Sea," AVO reported in an update to its website at 1:21 p.m. "Ash cloud height and direction will vary significantly through an eruption."
AVO said Saturday afternoon there had not been any reports of ash falling on nearby communities, although the National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for Cold Bay and Sand Point Saturday afternoon, notifying residents "a dusting of ash fall" would be possible and advising those with respiratory sensitivities to "take extra precaution to minimize exposure."
"The majority of the ash will be blown off to the northwest over the Bering Sea," the Weather Service wrote in a post to its Facebook page with an image showing the ash cloud's projected path. "It is possible for locations in the immediate vicinity of the volcano to see a light dusting of ashfall, otherwise ash is expected to remain aloft."
Pavlof is located on the Alaska Peninsula, near the western end of the Aleutian chain and about 36 miles from the community of Cold Bay. Should ash fall, residents are encouraged to report the occurrence to AVO.
Because volcanic ash poses a risk to aircraft, AVO advised pilots to consult the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit of the National Weather Service for meteorological updates.
The current eruption began Wednesday. Pavlof is considered one of Alaska's most active volcanoes.