Alaska's Mount Redoubt has begun to erupt, creating a cloud extending approximately 50,000 feet above sea level, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO). Dust from several eruptions has started to fall on the nearby town of Willow, Alaska, and resulted in the cancellation of flights from Anchorage International Airport and the suspension of normal activities at nearby Elmendorf Air Base, according to several public sources.
Following increased seismic activity on March 21, the volcano began to erupt at about 10:40 p.m. AKDT March 22. The AVO raised the aviation code status of the mountain to red, signifying that "Eruption is imminent with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere likely, or eruption is under way or suspected with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere," according to the AVO's Mount Redoubt page. The AVO reported another phase of vigorous ash eruption beginning at 7:41 p.m. ADT last night. It elevated its alert level to "warning."
Volcanic ash creates health and business continuity hazards because it is simultaneously very fine and dense; ash from Alaska's volcanoes is prone to be larger and more jagged, increasing both hazards. The National Weather Service has issued an ash advisory for the Susitna Valley, recommending that people seal windows and doors, protect electronics, cover air intakes and open water supplies, and minimize driving.
In response to Mount Redoubt's latest activity, Zurich and its subsidiary Farmers Insurance are using mapping technology to monitor customers' potential exposure, according to Rick Morgan, senior vice president, property claims, Zurich North America Commercial. "We have contacted all of our agents and brokers in Alaska to inform them of our preparation and how to handle claims," Morgan says. "We have also staffed our care center to ensure claims are referred immediately to our catastrophe team. In addition, we have a network of mitigation service providers who are prepared to respond immediately in Alaska to meet our customers when they need it most."
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio