Hazard Roundup--March 2009
A roundup of the March 2009 hazard-related events around the world, with some newsworthy tidbits.
Welcome, and thanks for tuning in to the March 2009 edition of the USGS Hazards Roundup. My name is Brian Campbell, your host.
In the United States, the eruption of Mt. Redoubt in Alaska and the record-setting flooding in the upper Midwest dominated natural hazard headlines. Neither of these events were shocking in their occurrence- by the end of January, USGS scientists were talking about the imminent possibility of Mt. Redoubt erupting "within days to weeks" as the Alaska Volcano Observatory began reporting heightened levels of seismic activity and monitoring Mt. Redoubt around the clock. One of the nation's highest threat volcanoes, Mt. Redoubt began erupting in the late evening of March 22nd and has erupted several times since, sending ash plumes as high as 65,000 feet into the air. Scientists are continuing to monitor the volcano, as it will likely remain active for several months. For the latest information regarding Mt. Redoubt, I encourage you to visit the Alaska Volcano Observatory's website at www.avo.alaska.edu. There you will also find some truly spectacular images of the erupting volcano, so do be sure to check it out!
Meanwhile, residents of the Red River Valley in the upper-Midwest and USGS scientists are continuing to monitor and respond to record-setting flooding that began in mid-March when heavy rains combined with deep, melting snowpack overwhelmed the Valley. The Red River began to recede by the end of the month, but anticipated warmer temperatures will likely prompt more snowmelt, and thus more flooding. Just as Mt. Redoubt has not finished running its course in Alaska, such is the case with the Red River in the upper-Midwest. Fortunately, USGS scientists are on hand and continuing to monitor the situation by making special, direct measurements of streamflow, verifying and repairing streamgages, installing other, temporary streamgages and radar sensors at critical locations, and working with the National Weather Service and state and local agencies to assist with flood response efforts. You, too, can monitor the flooding in the upper-Midwest by accessing real-time streamflow data through the USGS website at water.usgs.gov.
Mt. Redoubt and the upper-Midwest flooding were not the only natural hazard events to make headlines this month. Heavy rains and flooding in Indonesia during the second week of March triggered a deadly landslide while a major earthquake measured at magnitude-7.6 struck off the coast of Tonga on March 19th. A tsunami warning was issued after the quake struck but was later cancelled. Interesting to consider was whether the giant quake- which was felt up to 1900 miles away- was triggered by or related to the beginning of a major undersea volcanic eruption that occurred just four days prior. There has been no confirmation of a connection between the two events, but USGS geophysicist Ken Hudnut stated that "it seems suggestive at this point."
Well, that about wraps it up for this month's edition of the USGS Hazards Roundup. Until next time, I'm Brian Campbell, thanks for tuning in.