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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Volcanic haze here again

The Emergency Management Office issued another volcanic haze alert after gases emitted by the Anatahan Volcano blanketed Saipan, Tinian, and Rota yesterday.

Many Saipan residents didn’t notice the haze as it was raining most of the day. Classes at public and private schools were not cancelled.

EMO advised people who are having breathing problems to remain indoors while the volcanic haze advisory remains.

“Concentrations of volcanic gases should be low…but the haze and odor may bother people with respiratory problems,” EMO said.

The agency also reminded mariners to take precautionary measures due to low visibility.

EMO said the northeast wind flow patterns are bringing some of the gases from Anatahan to Saipan and Tinian.

“The satellite images show light to variable plume at Anatahan extending south-southwest toward Saipan, Tinian, and Rota,” EMO said.

The agency said the haze and light odor are expected to blanket the islands until the wind shifts enough to blow the gases out to sea and away from the islands.

As of 1:30pm, EMO’s SO2 analyzer reading indicated 161ppb (parts per billions).

Last Feb. 13 and 14, the government issued a public health alert for Tinian, Saipan, and Rota when the volcanic haze spread to the islands.

Anatahan Volcano has been emitting gas and steam plume since its eruption in May 2003.

Gov. Benigno Fitial recently declared Anatahan island still unsafe for human habitation and ordered all travel to the island restricted, with the exception of scientific expeditions.

The government first issued the emergency declaration for Anatahan on May 13, 2003.

Anatahan is a small volcanic island 120 km north of Saipan. The volcano’s first historic eruption was in May 2003. In April 2004, the volcano woke up again after a few months of slumber.

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