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Weather: Indonesian volcano ash shouldn’t affect world

A volcano erupted last Friday in Indonesia that grounded planes in that region and Australia. The ash cloud was sent about six to 10 miles into the atmosphere which is the cruising altitude for commercial aircrafts.

The volcano is called Mount Sangeang Api, located on the northeast coast of Indonesia. Additional eruptions since Friday have created separate ash plumes.

The last time Mount Sangeang Api erupted was 15 years ago. Indonesia is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and has 130 active volcanoes. These particular eruptions may cause some localized temperature drops from the ash, but were not big enough to create a worldwide drop in temperature. The last time that occurred was in June 1991 when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines.

Here in the Inland Northwest, the most famous volcano is Mount St. Helens. That volcano erupted in 1980 and caused a billion dollars in property damage. There were some minor eruptions of this volcano as recent as 2006. Scientists have recently reported that magma is slowly building inside Mount St. Helens, but there is no sign of an impending eruption. In the past 4,000 years, 11 of the 13 volcanoes in the Cascade Range have erupted at least once.

One of the biggest eruptions worldwide was Indonesia’s Krakatoa in August 1883. That event created the loudest sound in human history. There were reports of people hearing the eruption as far as 3,000 miles away.

Another major eruption, the biggest in modern human history, was Mount Tambora, also in Indonesia, in 1815. So much ash and sulphur poured into the atmosphere that weather conditions were altered, leading to “a year without a summer” in the Northeast U.S. and parts of England in 1816. Northern New England reported snowfall in every month in 1816 that led to widespread crop failures. Scientists say Tambora contributed to the Little Ice Age in the 1800s, as well.

Contact Randy Mann at wxmann, or go to www.longrange for additional information.