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See the Montserrat Volcano Observatory website for updates on the Soufriere Hills Volcano, and ssd.noaa.gov for volcanic ash advisories.

- - - 2006 Hurricane Season - - -

- Early morning sirens
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2007 07:00:52 -0400
Sirens at 6:30am can never be a good thing!
Was up very early this morning and I actually heard "thunder" which I now understand could well have been the sound of explosions in the volcano.  (It's not often one hears these sounds from all the way in the north.)  Looking outside, the sky to the south is ominously gray and closer inspection revealed a huge ash cloud moving slowly towards the north and almost overhead.  Sirens went a short while later and there has just been a brief update by the MVO staff to say that it does appear that explosive activity has led to pyroclastic activity, but the location of the flows cannot be determined at this time since visibility is low around the volcano.  Apparently much of the ash cloud (reportedly 30,000 feet high) is moving towards the west.  They also reported that sirens in Salem have been telling folks to evacuate (a partial evacuation of the area having been ongoing since the official announcement was made last Wednesday).
Report is that the seismic "signals" are going away at this time, but people are being advised to stay at at home for now since we don't know what's next.  No ashfall in the north yet - winds are easterly, so that's good.  But upper level winds may carry material in other directions as well - and it does appear that the ashcloud is almost overhead here in St. John's.  I just heard an airplane leave the airport...which is much earlier than the normal first flight, so my guess is that whatever plane overnighted here decided to get out of Dodge before the going gets worse.
Latest report over the wire is that there is currently no ash in Salem at this time (7am).
Nothing else to report at this time.  Here's a couple of photos taken just a little while ago from my porch - I don't have a wide view of things at all, but the sky looks pretty (even if it's not a "good" pretty!)  So nothing more dramatic to show, though I imagine it's pretty dramatic for those with a broader view of things...

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- Long anticipated evacuation orders
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 17:30:12 -0400
Hi all,
The volcano's dome has been growing rapidly over the past week or two and has now topped the edge of the crater wall.  It is estimated at 200 million cubic meters, just a bit smaller than that which collapsed in 2003 (and is therefore the second largest dome to date).  Pyroclastic flows have been falling to the north and east since Dec 24th when the alert level was raised to 4.  This includes Tyres Ghaut, which flows into the Belham Valley.  They've just called for the evacuation of residents of Isles Bay, lower Happy Hill, Waterwork, and parts of Old Towne (including the Vue Pointe area).  The MVO website is supposed to be updated daily.  Attached is a photo from the 24th (taken from the relative leisure of Sunday lunch at Jumping Jacks)!  I've nothing more recent to share I'm afraid.
All well here in St. John's....and no ashfall or any other noticeable signs of anything up here at all...

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- Fair days
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Sun, 5 Nov 2006 22:34:03 -0400
This is likely to be my last Montserrat posting for this season, I am heading to Antigua for a few weeks.  Things have been quiet on the weather front for the most part for the past few weeks, and the volcano is just doing her thing - the dome continues to grow but at least trade winds are keeping the ash down towards the south and southwest.  Here's hoping for fair weather for the remainder of November!  I'm not holding my breath quite yet as I had a memorable mid-November birthday in '99 watching Lenny tear a hole through Darkwood Beach....but hoping for the best.

- A day for ducks
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 13:07:55 -0400
Am scared to have computer plugged into current and to modem since the power has been going off and on since the middle of the night.  Thunder and dense storm clouds and rain (and ash, for good measure, since the wind is still out of the south) are making the place pretty dreary today.  I see kids walking around and am not sure if school was cancelled due to ash/weather?  At least in Lookout?  Current is on at home in the north, but off at the office in the south...which means cable TV is out.  The cable switch is in the south, so we always know when there's no current in Salem because our cable goes out in the north!  Anyway, going to sign off and get important things unplugged in case of power surge as the thunder is acting up again.

- Blob
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 16:19:58 -0400
Where the heck did that red and yellow and white blob come from that's about to pass over us?  Thunder for the past few hours and must be southerly winds because the throat is a bit scratchy from a day with sulphuric gas odor wafting into the office in Olveston.  The rain started lightly a short while ago, but looks like it will get a bit worse now and for the next few hours.  At least it's moderating the shifting ash.  The cleaner at the National Trust is outside now with an ash mask on, but the drizzle at least settles it for a bit.
Another day on the rock!

- Stormy weather
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 09:25:18 -0400
Not much sleep last night with terrible thunder and lightning, rain, and a good amount of ash in the rain just for good measure.  Here's what the truck looks like this morning (attached).  Looks like a gloomy day, but sometimes that fits the mood!

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- Rain
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2006 12:12:46 -0400
Rain fell heavily off and on through the night and this morning - torrentially at times.  Thunder was real loud at times.  Current went off for a little while and C&W is asking people to turn their modems off to avoid surges and damage to equipment.  I'm hoping that the UPS will protect me here at work.  Still pretty overcast now but occasional lightening.  Saw a big brown ash cloud heading west about an hour ago, thankfully farther south than Olveston!  The heavy rains sometimes trigger activity around the volcano - and mudflows for sure.
All weekend and up to now, PWD is windeing the road at Runaway Ghaut, which means delays of up to an hour (I can vouch for this) for persons traveling between the north and south - as there is no other way to get around it.  Hopefully they'll be done today with the excavating portion at least...then the road surfacing will begin.  The rain is not helping and I felt really bad for the guys directing traffic in the downpour when I passed this morning...lots of runoff and the cliff they're digging into is unstable enough as it is.  I'm attaching 2 photos from Saturday.  Good progress has been made since then, but quite a sight to behold - huge caterpillar perched on the side of the hill tearing boulders out of the crumbling hill.
But all told rain is good!

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- Ash in de air
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 11:47:08 -0400
Sorry St. Kitts and Nevis, looks like you're getting some ash today.  Since yesterday afternoon, a heavy dusting has grayed up the place, and there are swirls of ash everyhere from Brades going south, but even a little farther north.  Met a Bobcat vehicle coming up Fogarty Hill that was ploughing fallen rock and ash.  Lots of motorists wearing face masks - at least those without A/C who need to keep the windows down for the heat!  Fine dust between the toes, in the keyboard, every nook and cranny.  It's not a day to be outdoors in Montserrat.  Where's the rain (that never came yesterday) when you need it?  The guys working on the nursery construction here at the National Trust are still working despite the dust (don't know how!) but they look like old men now, with ash making their hair and skin all gray!  They had a ground breaking ceremony at Little Bay this morning for the new public Market....Montserrat has been without one for almost a decade now....the farmers probably wondering if they'll ever have anything consistent to sell since the ash keeps mashing up the crops!

- Ominous
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 12:29:46 -0400
There have been some ominous clouds since I woke up this morning, but only sprinklings of rain so far.  Keeping an eye on the same blob on the radar that Alan was talking about, looks to be just in the south of Antigua now en route this way.  Ah well, we need the rain after a month of oppressive heat and relatively little precipitation.  The volcano is spluttering a slightly browner cloud that clearly looks different from the rain clouds.  It looks like it's heading ENE.  Pretty calm and windless for now.

- Volcano photos
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2006 16:26:50 -0400
Here's two photos - one taken last Sunday (the clearer one with the big cloud) and one taken today (the hazier one, with things looking tinged with gray from recent ashing - you can't see it well in this photo but the dome is bulging out from behind the fore-ridge towards the left).  The MVO website has lots more recent pictures.  Last night at Jack Boy Hill there were decent views of fiery orange rockfalls and pyroclastic flows heading down the Tar River Valley.  But things heating up on the Gages side too these days, which is not such a happy thing for residents near the Belham River Valley.
There have been 2 British navy ships (one looking like a frigate and one looking like a supply ship) off the coast since yesterday...and some gossip going around about why they are here....evacuation of some southern residents?  Some other reason?  No one seems to know....hmmmmm....

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- The heat goes on
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 21:15:11 -0400
When will this oppressive heat end?
Got a modest dusting of ash today in Salem - enough that I could not ignore it when I got home, the truck got a wash.  Wiper fluid runs out quickly in these conditions!
I learned something interesting about Montserrat weather today.  I did know that the volcano produces some static electricity, and also tiny dust particles - and this creates conditions whereby the volcano can "create it's own weather" - in a very localized sense.  The volcano creates lightening and thunder, and also rain (along with the altitude).  So what I hadn't realized is that over the past ten years, it is speculated (would be interesting to check the data) that increased rainfall across the island has made the northern portions generally greener, at least at certain times of the year.  This was an observation that a visiting consultant made who had not been here since 1995 - and was confirmed by a Montserratian who pointed out that the Silver Hills (in the far north) used to be brown for much of the year (they are also heavily grazed by livestock) - but now are at least somewhat green!
Who knew?  Will have to see if I can get some rainfall data to verify this...

- Thar she blows!
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 17:08:36 -0400
Monday and more big ash cloud in the air.  Sorry to hear that there's ash in Antigua - the tip of the Montserrat iceberg!
Sirens sounded yesterday again to advise folks of the burping beast but flights still came in.  A little ash fell in the north - kind of insidiously, like you can't see it falling (sometimes you can) but then there it is accumulating before your eyes.  Things are very hot and still and a bit dusty.
Alert level still at 4 and they're warning that things are still kickin'.  Rockfalls and pyroclastic flows breached a portion of the Gages wall and sent material down towards Plymouth yesterday, and also some in the north-west towards Lees.  Apparently the MVO were able to record visible changes in the size of the dome over the period of just a few hours yesterday!  Talk about something growing before your very eyes...
It's been a glowing spectacle at night from the north and west, especially from Salem (which normally gets all the ash and gas) because of the westerly winds clearing the area over the Belham Valley for a change.
There's also been good rain each night, which does help a bit.
Please don't send any bad weather over these parts just now, one natural disaster per week is enough!  Can't bear to imagine what impact a torrent of tropical storm rain would do to the stability of the burgeoning volcanic dome - mudslides and collapsing materials.

- Rain and haze
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 19:36:38 -0400
Despite there being not a blob of detectable moisture in the air according to the satellite imagery on Sunday afternoon, it rained cats and dogs here on Sunday night and into Monday morning.  Overcast all day yesterday, then a bit more rain last night.  Today is uncomfortably muggy, still, and hot once again, winds are really low (good time to be doing minor repairs after work to a piece of boat rigging in the bosun's chair...less pendular motion!)  Hoping to sell the boat and get her on outta here before any bad weather comes this weekend/next week!  There was beautiful, silent lightening in some big fluffy clouds to the west right at sunset.

- Note to reader
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 11:29:15 -0400
To the fellow who wrote yesterday with the info about the GPS reception and clouds, can you please resend me your message?  Somehow it got accidentally got deleted before I had a chance to read it in detail!

- More sirens
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 11:09:25 -0400
The sirens just went off again, MVO director warning of possible increased activity in the near future.  Small pyroclastic flows, aggressive ash venting, lots of tremors, and more heavy rain last night, as well as a few loud thunder claps and lightning.  Alert is now back to level 4.  The dome is now 55 million cubic metres (as a point of reference, it was about 90 million cubic metres when the dome collapsed back in May and 230 million cubic metres when it collapsed back in July 2003).  But rapid dome growth possible given the current indications.  The atomosphere is very clear today apart from what's coming out, so I suspect that those in Antigua, Guadeloupe, and Nevis can see us well today!
From the north this morning, there was a very "pretty" ash cloud billowing upwards and to the west from the volcano - I'm not good at the height estimates, but the ash cloud is certainly tens of thousands of feet high.  No ash falling in Olveston at the moment.
Since quite a few have indicated that they appreciate the photos/volcano news, I'm attaching some more photos (small sizes).  They were mostly taken from an escorted visit into Plymouth last November.  But imagine that things look pretty much the same right now, if not worse from additional ash over the past few months.  I hope it's okay to do this - not hurricane related, but natural disaster nonetheless!

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- Sirens
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 12:18:02 -0400
Sirens were launched for a brief while last night, announcing to all that the volcano was doing something and to tune into ZJB radio.  An increase in tremors yesterday afternoon and into the early evening signified that pyroclastic flows were heading down the Tar River Valley.  Yesterday was brutally hot and still, and modest ash fell over much of the inhabited portion of Montserrat (winds were out of the SSE).  Seems like every time there's a Scientific Advisory Committee meeting (every 6 months) to discuss the volcano, there's some action!  Then there was torrential rain in the early evening and into the night, which thankfully washed some of yesterday's ash off things.
There's still a big ash cloud overhead today, but more to the south and west and thankfully not falling (at least in Olveston) this morning.  But making for a pretty still and gray day here.  I suspect that neighbours in SKN might have received a bit of ash.
On Saturday, I took some visitors to Jack Boy Hill and noted that the dome had certainly become visibly bigger over the past weeks/months.  Rockfalls on the northeastern face were easily visible from there.  But as of yesterday, the dome was not as big as it was on May 20th.  The seasonal rains may be what's triggering this new activity, despite a dryish few days, it's been pretty wet in general.
Have not heard an update yet today (too much work) but got the radio on.  The MVO staff who work round the clock in these times need to be hailed up for their commitment to those undesirable graveyard shifts....

- Dust
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 19:03:27 -0400
Does anyone happen to know if the dust could be so severe as to impact satellite readings?  The weather (in particular the low montane clouds) have been hampering our efforts this past month to do some extensive mapping work in the Centre Hills.  It can be beautiful and dry elsewhere, but the hills have been shrouded in clouds.  Certainly the volcanic ash can hamper GPS reception (and has undoubtedly been a factor on some occasions), but not sure if the general haze/humidity is a factor aside from ash and low clouds.
Anyway, not much to report, some heavy rain this past week, mostly in the night, a glorious sound when one is "ten toes up".

- Almost chilly
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 17:00:31 -0400
Rain began falling sometime early last evening and continued through the night.  Today has seen more showers, but not too heavy.  It's been overcast all day, which has kept the temperature in my office at 84F according to the thermometer on my alarm clock.  It often peaks at 92F or so in the mid-afternoon (that is, when the A/C isn't on - and it usually is only when indoor temps get above 88F by around 1pm).  Anyway, the point of all that was to say that we didn't need the A/C today nor did the ash bother us too much since the dampness kept it from blowing around too much.  My lettuce slips have not taken off this time around, and I don't know why...there's sure been enough rain!

- Puff
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2006 14:29:49 -0400
Just put the heavy anchor on the boat, probably not necessary but would have worried all night if I hadn't.  Breeze freshening slightly and coming out of the NNW, and hooray it looks like we're going to be in the clear down here.  Volcano sent up a puff a few thousand feet today just for kicks, but no ashfall in the north at least.  Hope those in Barbuda and the track thereafter are not too badly drenched or blown about!

- Fringe
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2006 08:06:32 -0400
Expecting fringes of Chris later today, it's typically calm and air is thick and hazy outside, not a leaf stirring.  Not sure it will be any worse than the gusty weather we had here last Friday, but time will tell!  Volcano has gone quiet for now, apparently not enough below-surface tension to make these heavy downpours of rain a major destabilizing threat.  But she's still growing a new crown, and not slowly!
Does the boat need another anchor?   Hmmmmmm......

- High speed in the rain
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 18:40:56 -0400
Writing for the first time from the luxury of my DSL connection at home, at long last!  Bit the bullet about the exorbitant price....sigh.  Anyway, we've had rain off and on for the past 24 hours, and it looks like it will be more on than off over the next 24 hours.  I just prepared some new soil and compost for my vegetable garden so if I can get some lettuce and pepper slips in tomorrow, they should get a good baptism from the sky (and apparently the moon is in the right place, but I can't profess to know much about these lunar planting theories).

- Not so clear
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2006 13:39:57 -0400
I was in Antigua yesterday when the heavens opened up.  I was already going to miss the last flight to Montserrat due to being tied up in an appointment - but it turns out that the flight had taken off from VC Bird, flown half way to Montserrat, and had to turn back as Gerald's Airport was closed due to bad weather.  So this morning at 6:00am, I had the joy of queueing up with more-than-a-planeload worth of mostly irate passengers many of whom had (like me) slept in their clothes and were afraid of having to wait an extra 90 minutes for the next flight since it was clear that everyone would not get on the first one!  Luck was with me, and the rain stopped, and I made it home in time to get the first piping hot bread of the day from Peter's Bakery.
It was not raining here any longer this morning....but a thin film of ash had fallen on my otherwise clean truck by the time lunch rolled around.  (It's a beautiful thing when you lend your vehicle out and it comes back cleaner than when you lent it.)  But looking outside now, more ash was just falling like in the snow flurries of my New England youth, and even more ash is swirling around when the breeze picks up.  A good day to keep the windows shut and the A/C on, we're so lucky we have it at the office!
The National Trust is gearing up for an exhibit for the first annual Calabash Festival which is this weekend.  Lots of folks around moving things around, will all need a good dusting before Friday!
Looks from the imagery like we might be in for a dry spell for a day or two!

- Bad weather and some ash
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 22:14:06 -0400
Since last night, we were experiencing the tropical wave passing through, which brought lots of rain and just generally damp and dreary conditions all day.  I was caught up indoors running a workshop from 8am to 3pm and missed most of the worst of it.  When leaving the workshop, we heard that there had been a minor volcanic event.  When I asked someone about it a bit later, they shrugged and said "just some ash venting".  Was entertaining visiting work colleagues so missed the news tonight...so I'm a bit in the dark myself!
At any rate, the rain is still good for us, I don't mind it.  Will help to bring back some of the vegetation in the south that was damaged back in May.  Up in the north/centre, things lookin' real green and the breadfruits are getting fat!

- Good day for laundry!
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2006 11:48:55 -0400
The wind has been blowing steady for a couple of days.  Yesterday afternoon, I took the sailboat out for a second trial sail since relaunching to test the rigging.  On the leeward shore of the island, we didn't get much more than gusts of 15, but we could see the white horses (or "great golly's" as my dad used to call them - since when you are in them, you tend to think "golly, this is rough!") to the north and farther to the west past the lee of the island.  Anyway, the rigging held up and we snagged the mooring on the first try - from undersail as we are engine-less.  It was quite gusty and shifty, but luckily, the gusts were more "lifts" than "knocks", which helped us get back to the bay in good time.  GPS batteries were dead (who forgot to replace them!??!) so don't know our actual speed, but definitely up around 6kts.  (Did I mention that this lovely little 23' sloop is for sale :-)  ?  Am hoping th find a buyer before any serious tropical weather threatens, 'cause the haul-out options here in Montserrat are "rustic" for a sailboat, even with a retractable keel.  For one, trailers are in short supply!
Breeze continued into the evening with just a sprinkle - temps were enough to keep many away from the Saturday night basketball game in Brades.  Volcano is behaving for now, turns out that the mini-collapse on June 30th, while it looked significant, did not remove much visibly from the dome, which is now growing at a volume rate of 8 refrigerators per second of new material!
Wishing for fair seas and enough (but not too much) rain....and the return of green vegetables to our agricultural fields I hope!!!  I am sick of eating brown and orange things!

- Dome collapse
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 14:06:26 -0400
The earthquake swarms were telling us something!
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!

Attachment: Brades ashfall.JPG
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Attachment: From airport just after 8am May 20.JPG
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Attachment: Table and chairs at Vue Pointe Hotel (Kew).JPG
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- Earthquake swarms
  • From: "Carole McCauley" <mccauley at cfl.rr.com>
  • Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 16:30:56 -0400
Greetings from Montserrat.  This is my first posting (I hope) - tried unsuccessfully a couple of times before but I must be spelling-challenged and now have got my p's and q's in order.
We are experincing the wonderful and much-needed rain from the passing tropical wave.  After the volcanic dome collapse on May 20th, the place has been very thirsty for rain.  Accumulations over the past week or so have washed most of the ash off the roofs, roads, and trees.  The forest will take a while to come back fully, and we are still relying largely on the weekly boat from Dominica to supply us with fresh produce since ash and related acidity "burned" all of the crops on farmland in late May.
ZJB radio just broadcast a live interview with the Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory who is reporting that we are experiencing another "earthquake swarm" at the moment, which puts things on a higher alert.  There was another swarm Sunday/Monday of this week which subsided.  As yet unclear what the swarms will result in.  They might just quiet down again, or the might forebode of stronger activity.  The dome has been growing at the fastest rate since activity began in the Soufriere Hills in 1995.  The May 20th dome collapse removed 90 million cubic metres of material from the volcano.  The dome is now growing at a rate of 10 cubic metres per second (that's about 10 refrigerators of rock/ash each second!)  Unsure how "stormy" the summer will be!  Tropical weather season means heavy rains, which can trigger landslides which can ultimately impact the pressure of material sitting "on top" of the volcano.
Anyway, for anything more than this very lay-person's report about the activity, bookmark www.mvo.ms for more information - weekly updates, great photos taken from remote cameras around the volcano, etc.
And, since this is my first posting, allow me to also invite you to visit www.malhe.gov.ms/centrehills to learn about the conservation work that I'm involved with here on the Emerald Isle.

- Montserrat volcano calm after brief eruption (fwd)
  • From: Gert van Dijken <gert at vandijken.com>
  • Date: Sun, 21 May 2006 13:02:07 -0400 (EDT)
CARIBBEAN360.COM News Alert - Sunday, May 21, 2006

Montserrat volcano erupts but no major eruption likely
- 5/21/2006 8:07:43 AM

Olveston, Montserrat, May 21, 2006  - All is quiet this morning after
yesterday's eruption at the Soufriére Hills volcano calming fears of a
possible major eruption.

Activity at the volcano in the south of the island has returned to
"normal" or "background" activity according to reports from the
Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

The first 24 hours after an eruption are critical and largely determine
the potential path of the mountain.

Early yesterday morning the volcano erupted belching poisonous gases and
ash, covering a wide area in this tiny British Caribbean dependency. No
injuries or fatalities were reported.

The eruption occurred when a section of the volcano's dome, which has
been growing since last year, collapsed sending a pyroclastic flow down
the eastern side of the mountain. Ash rose 55,000 feet and some rained on
the town of Salem.

The event was followed by an eruption-induced localised rainstorm which
sent torrents of mud and rocks down the slopes.

Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Sue Loughlin, said the
volcanic eruption was both good and bad in that "although it's been an
unpleasant morning with ash falling all around, it was a good thing in
the near-term because it collapsed this growing lava dome into the sea.".

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency reported that the action
of the pyroclastic flow on the sea generated tsunamis on Guadeloupe and
Antigua but this report could not be independently confirmed.

After centuries of being dormant, the Mount Soufriere volcano awakened,
killing 19 people, destroying the capital Plymouth and wreaking havoc and
devastation on the southern half of the island which remains an exclusion
zone. Just over half of the 12,000 population has left the Emerald Isle.
The remainder moved to the northern section of the island where a new
capital has been constructed.

The eruption comes one and a half weeks before general elections are due.

- Montserrat Soufriere Hills Volcano - Situation Report #1 (fwd)
  • From: Gert van Dijken <gert at vandijken.com>
  • Date: Sat, 20 May 2006 19:14:46 -0400 (EDT)
Situation Report #1
Issued by: The Disaster Management Coordination Agency, Montserrat
Date: 20 May 2006

The MVO reported that there were recorded signals of increased activity from 
around six o`clock on Saturday 20th May 2006.  Around 7.20 am the first dome 
collapse with pyroclastic flows reached the sea at the end of Tar River Valley 
on the eastern side of the island.  The MVO also confirmed that flows went into 
the Trants and Spanish Point areas.

There were confirmed reports of heavy ashing with accompanying small stones on 
the north western side of the island especially in Salem, Olveston and Old 
Towne areas.

The Impact
The Montserrat population is safe.  Local residents were requested to remain 
indoors, continue to execise caution and remain vigilant.

Major ash falls ? Vue Pointe Hotel had to move guests to Tropical Mansion 
Suites due to the intensity of the ash and the high gas levels.

Salem covered with wet ash.  Doctor Woods main road blocked.

Director MVO reported that Guadeloupe had a tsumani 1 meter high and an 
unconfirmed report that Antigua also experienced a possible tsunami ranging 
between 8 to 12 inches.

Due to the high gas levels reported in Old Towne, Olveston, Salem and 
surrounding areas, the local health authorities have recommended that residents 
in these areas with specific health conditions such as asthma or any other 
respiratory problems move northwards for a few hours.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated and the Authorities 
are in constant contact with the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

The EOC is keeping the public informed as the situation unfolds and will issue 
further updates throughout the day.

The Disaster Management Coordination Agency
Government of Montserrat
Yellow Hill Road
St. John's

Tel. (664) 491-7166
Fax. (664) 491-7003
email. dmca at gov.ms

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