Mysterious Ash has been falling from the Washington and Oregon skies, and scientists are still unsure as to the cause of the ashy substance. According to various reports from the Walla Walla county emergency, residents of the two pacific northwestern states have been seeing the ashy rainfall covering their vehicles in the mornings. The localized sightings has baffled scientists and weather experts; however, there are a few theories as to the origin of the falling ash.
While experts have still not figured out what is causing the strange downpour of ash, they believe it could be from one of several active foreign volcanoes. There is speculation that the milky white ash could actually be from a Russian volcano located four thousand miles away.
The volcano Shiveluch is a very active volcano located in the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka. The volcano recently released a 20,000 foot ash plume in January and ended up covering a wide area in the Pacific Northwest. However the ash could also be from a couple of other active volcanoes nearby as well. Weather experts, despite being baffled by the mysterious ashy conditions, are prepared to study the localized problem.
Derek Van Damm, a meteorologist from CNN believes that a different volcano in Southwest Colima, Mexico that erupted on February 4 could also be the cause of the mysterious ash. There apparently could also be another active volcano in Eastern Russia that could be responsible for the mysterious ash fall as well. The Colima, Mexico volcano is located two thousand miles away from the two effected states.
A strong southerly flow from the jet stream could have carried the volcanic ash towards the pacific northwestern area. The U.S. national weather service is getting reports from local residents of milky substances, dirty water, and raindrops. The weather service will be conducting its own investigation which could include recreating atmospheric flows from past weather conditions.
One of the only ways to determine the true origin of the mysterious ash is to run various tests on how pollutants disperse and react within the atmosphere. The weather service will reportedly run a program called the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory. The program will backwards engineer where a pollutant will travel to, and where it came from. They can also test the chemical makeup of the rain. Local residents have been reported to be collecting samples of the ash in an effort to help the experts determine where the ash originated. The ash is being described as white, or milky in appearance. Residents say that the ash is smooth to the touch.
While the weather experts believe that foreign volcanoes are to blame for the phenomenon, Washington state leads the country in most active volcanoes. Currently one-quarter of all active volcanoes are located in Washington. All five of the active volcanoes in Washington are located in the Cascade Range. Those local volcanoes are Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount Saint Helens. The last major volcanic eruption in Washington occurred from Mount Saint Helen in 1980.
The infamous eruption occurred on May 18, 1980, and caused the largest landslide ever recorded. The eruption column rose over 80,000 feet into the air, and deposited ash into eleven states. Fifty-seven people were killed in that eruption, and caused over one billion dollars in damage. Needless to say, volcanic activity is not an unfamiliar occurrence for the people of the Pacific Northwest.
Several agencies are still collecting test samples in order to test their theories on what is causing the mysterious ash that has been raining down upon the Pacific Northwest. Washington and other local Experts continue to be baffled, but believe that another cause of the mysterious ash could be from ashy debris circulated from old wildfires in nearby areas.
By Scott Andes
The Westside Story