Volcanic ash from massive 1912 eruption is obscuring visibility on Kodiak Island

Strong northwestern winds kicked up ash from the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century on Friday, impacting visibility on Alaska's Kodiak Island.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for Kodiak, letting locals know that loose ash had been stirred up, particularly toward the west side of the island.

A few times every year, ash from the 105-year-old eruption is carried by the winds toward Kodiak, said Dave Kochevar, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Anchorage office.

It's most commonly seen in fall, when storms are passing through the area, and before snow has settled, Kochevar said. The ash was expected to dissipate Friday evening, he said.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory put out a statement explaining that loose ash, seen in a satellite image extending over Shelikof Strait and Kodiak Island, had traveled southeast from the old volcanic site and wasn't the result of a new eruption.

[A Novarupta-scale eruption today would cripple global aviation]

The Novarupta-Katmai volcanic eruption of June 6, 1912, occurred in what is now Katmai National Park and Preserve. For three days, the volcano spewed 100 times more material than the Mount St. Helens eruption, shooting plumes 20 miles into the air and burying the valley downwind in over 500 feet of ash and volcanic rock. Mount Katmai collapsed during the explosion.

Four years later, when botanist Robert Griggs visited the valley, steam still poured from vents across the valley, prompting the crew to name it the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

Read more about the Novarupta eruption here.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.