The eruption of an active volcano in Alaska is causing local carriers to cancel some flights, and could impact commercial airline traffic if it the situation becomes more severe.
The plume of ash spewing from Pavlof Volcano, on the Alaskan Peninsula, is currently reaching about 20,000 feet into the air, the altitude at which some small aircraft fly.
According to Reuters, local carrier PenAir, whose planes fly at between 15,000 and 20,000 feet, has canceled about a dozen flights so far. Anchorage-based Ace Air Cargo canceled two flights and has delayed others, the Seattle Times reported.
Ash can accumulate in a plane’s machinery, jamming the engines and causing them to fail, according to the Guardian.
Most large commercial aircraft fly above 30,000 feet, so are not at risk for the time being, but that could change.
The eruption of the 8,261-foot has gained strength since last week, and could last for weeks or months, according to the Alaska Dispatch.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory warns “more energetic explosions could occur without warning that could place ash clouds above 20,000 feet.”
Here’s another shot of Pavlof erupting, from May 18:
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