The earthquake swarms were telling us
We've had another dome collapse about an hour ago
at the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat. I was at work (office in
Salem at the National Trust) and we were able to see the initial cloud/plume
before ash started to fall. It's an awesome, beautiful site to behold (but
somewhat sickening as well, knowing what effects it will soon have). The
cloud moves and grows very fast and after a couple of minutes of gaping at it,
it was overhead and clear that it would soon be ashing on us. Luckily, I
live in the north, so I prepared to get home ASAP. My colleague went to
rescue his small son from his last day of school up the road. By the time
I had closed up the office, ash was falling. Got into the truck and joined
the motorcade of vehicles moving north. Ash turned to mud as rain mixed
in, and (of course) my windshield fluid soon ran out - which was obviously
happening to others on the road. We came to a complete standstill at one
point - people not wanting to get out in the falling mud to clear the
windscreen. The mud was so thick as to completely obsucre vision out the
window, though - so a hazardous situation. I had a few ounces of water
left in my water bottle, and got out at one point to dribble it on the
windshield - enough to clear it and get me on past where the rain was
falling. There was a surprising amount of traffic heading south. It
all happened so fast, maybe people could not see (from the northbound traffic)
what a mess it was in Salem/Woodlands. But maybe they had laundry on the
line or doors/windows open, I don't know. I guess there's an urge just to
"get home" or "see what's happening".
At any rate, now I am home and cleaned off once
again and things have slowed down to a regular ashing event. No ash
whatsoever up here (yet), none from St. Peters going north. People all
along the roadsides watching the north-bound traffic and amazed to see how dirty
our vehicles were. No wonder - from the north, much of the cloud was
obscured due to rain/fog clouds. Only when looking way up and to the west
could you determine that there were also massive ash clouds - the clouds being
distinctly grayer and/or browner.
So much for the afternoon's work!
The MVO still warning of more ashing and possible
pyroclastic flows (in the exclusion zone), and a coastal warning in effect,
possibly for threat of tsunami? There were some small tsunamis following
the May 20th event, felt as far away as Guadeloupe. Since May 20th, the
dome had been growing at a rate of 10 cubic meters per second (much faster than
before) - and the dome was 1/3 of the size that it was on May 20th (about
30 million cubic meters). Just as a point of reference, the May 20th dome
was about 40% of the size of the dome that collapsed in July 2003.
I didn't have my camera on me today, but I will
attach a few photos from the May 20th dome collapse that I captured from
the new airport at Gerald's at about 8am that day. On that day, the ash
cloud went 17km into the air, higher than ever before.
Watch out for ash all you up there in Nevis, St.
Kitts, and beyond!
So now we'll need more tropical weather and rain to
get the place clean again!!! Doh!