August 18, 1992. I was living in Anchorage in an apartment off of Muldoon Road, and working slinging popcorn at the Fireweed Theaters. It was a rather muggy, hot day, and I was quite happy to be getting off of work at 6pm that evening. One of the girls I worked with offered me a ride home, and on our way across town, we turned on the radio, anxious to hear about the day’s news — the sudden eruption of Mt. Spurr, a volcano just across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.
The eruption had blown plumes of ash miles into the sky, and winds were blowing all of that ash directly towards Anchorage. As we drove down Northern Lights Boulevard towards Muldoon, we could glance behind us and see the sky starting to darken as the already overcast sky started to fill with the incoming clouds of ash.
I was wearing my hair long at the time — the very ‘alternative trendy’ style of shaved along the sides and back, with the top long, down to just past my shoulder blades — and after having it pulled back in a ponytail for work, was more than ready to let it loose. I pulled out the ponytail holder, shook my head a couple times to let my hair fall loose…
…and then yelped as my glasses slipped off my face and went flying out the open passenger window of the car. We pulled over as fast as possible, but it was too late, and all we could do was pick up as many of the pieces of my glasses as we could find after they’d been quite thoroughly demolished by the tires of the cars behind us.
For the rest of the evening, I watched as much of I could of the volcanic ash fall over the city, but given my poor vision (I’m legally blind without my glasses), that was limited to seeing the world get darker and darker as the city got blanketed by the ash from Mt. Spurr.
The next day I got a new pair of glasses, and got to see the aftereffects of the ash fall. The entire city was grey — apparently it wasn’t that big of an ash fall, only a millimeter or two, but it was enough to blanket the city and choke the air filters of nearly every car in town. Not far from my apartment, someone had scrawled ‘Ash to Ash, Dust to Dust’ on the back window of a car.
Now, it looks like there’s a possibility that Anchorage could be getting hit again — Mt. Spurr is showing signs of life.
Mount Spurr, the volcano on Anchorage’s doorstep, is kicking up once again, the first time since it erupted 12 years ago, scientists said this week.
Tiny earthquakes by the hundreds have been rumbling beneath the mountain across Cook Inlet from the city, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage.
The observatory on Monday raised its official level of concern from Code Green, or “No eruption anticipated,” to Yellow, meaning “An eruption is possible in the next few weeks and may occur with little or no additional warning.”
Scientists hastened to say the earthquake swarm does not necessarily presage an eruption of Spurr, which blew its top three times in 1992 and, in the August ’92 explosion, spread a thin, obnoxious layer of ash over Anchorage.
“The most likely scenario,” geophysicist John Power said, “is that the earthquakes will die off.” That’s what commonly occurs.
But it’s also true, Power said, that when volcanoes blow, their eruptions most often follow just such a swarm of quakes.
Nifty! If it happens, I wanna see pictures, since I managed to miss most of the fun last time!
iTunes: “Stalemate” by Limp Bizkit from the album Three Dollar Bill Y’All (1997, 6:14).