Waiting for a Volcano

My family moved to Alaska in 1990, a year after the last volcanic explosion. I remember the Asian tourists wouldn't go outside for all of 1990 without white face masks and people sold souvenir ash in little jars for months. Alaskans are amazed whenever we see the rest of the country paralyzed by natural disasters or cold weather, canceling school and hunkering down at mere -20F temperatures. We have never experienced runs on bleach and double-A batteries in the face of a hurricane.

Our natural disasters usually are of the Earthquake variety, which you don't know are coming and can't dread while watching them advance. We just keep a few canned goods and our typical "stuck in the ditch" survival kit from the car which we use to survive until help comes when we run off the road in the winter avoiding a moose. The most we prepare for is tsunamis in the coastal areas and where to stand/brace/hide in an earthquake. So, knowing that Mt. Redoubt is going to explode in advance is really freaking them out.

The volcanic ash will probably spew 30-50,000 feet and isn't the silty stuff you find in your fire place, but more of abrasive volcanic rock particles. If it gets into the jet stream it could probably give a few frequent fliers some heart-burn. In Anchorage they are making runs on hardware stores buying dust masks, goggles and tarps to cover their cars so their paint jobs won't be messed up when they wash the abrasive ash off. Its not going to be one of those cool lava volcanoes like they have in Hawaii, *sigh* everything is better/warmer in Hawaii. In Fairbanks we don't have anything to worry about, but a few people who moved up from Florida are buying bleach, just in case.