AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: A Volcanic Eruption and Two Tropical Storms

Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 20, 2021: The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on La Palma Island for the first time since 1971; a Red Flag Warning is in place for much of Northern California until Tuesday morning; evacuation orders and warnings for the Dixie Fire were reduced in some areas of Lassen County; a military training airplane crashed into a Texas neighborhood; a busy weekend in the tropics produced two tropical storms currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean; Tropical Storm Peter is likely to produce heavy rainfall for the Northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; Tropical Storm Rose is the 17th named storm of the 2021 hurricane season; and increased ash emissions prompt Alert Level/Aviation Code increase for the Semisopochnoi volcano.

1. The Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands violently erupted on Sunday, spewing its lava for the first time since 1971. Prior to the eruption, more than 22,000 earthquakes occurred in the span of a single week, placing the island on high alert. Residents in four villages were evacuated, as the eruption continued Monday from at least eight active lava vents, with the likelihood of more opening. Surface inflation has also increased to 19 centimeters, which signals the storing of more magma underground.

2. A large swath of Northern California is under a Red Flag Warning until 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Decreased shower activity, coupled with increasing and gusty winds which began on Sunday evening, will allow for easier fire starts. Relative humidity will also decrease, but remains in the teens to low 20s. However, tinder-dry fuel supplies are still plentiful.

3. The Lassen County Sheriff’s Office eased evacuation orders and warnings on Sunday for portions of the county affected by the Dixie Fire. There has been little fire growth, and firefighters have achieved at least 90% containment. The massive blaze has now scorched a total of 963,301 acres, and more than 2,260 personnel are assigned to the fire.

4. Two pilots from a military training aircraft ejected from their plane before it crashed into a Texas neighborhood on Sunday morning. The pilots were taken to a nearby hospital where they were listed in stable condition. The plane hit three homes, causing damage and displacing the homes’ occupants. Officials also noted that power was cut to at least 60-70 area residents, and it was likely that power would not be restored for several days.

5. A busy weekend in the tropics saw the formation of three tropical storms, two of which are still churning in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical Storm Odette quickly dissipated after its formation last Friday, although its remnants could reorganize later this week. The remnant storm is forecast to move southeastward, where it will encounter warmer waters that could possibly allow for the development of subtropical characteristics within the system.

6. Tropical Storm Peter is churning in the Atlantic Ocean and is likely to bring heavy rainfall that leads to flooding in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Leeward Islands. The storm is encountering strong wind shear as it moves west-northwestward, and gradual weakening is expected after the next 48-hour period. Currently, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has not issued any tropical storm warnings or watches for any land masses in conjunction with Tropical Storm Peter.

7. The 17th named storm of the 2021 hurricane season formed on Sunday afternoon. Tropical Storm Rose is located about 300 miles to the west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and has maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph. Currently, the system poses no threat to land, and its forecast track shows the system moving to the north-northwest as environmental conditions continue to become less conducive for development.

8. The Alaska Volcano Observatory Alert Level for the Semisopochnoi volcano was raised to Warning, the highest alert level, due to ongoing and intensified eruptions. Satellite images show large ash plumes rising above weather clouds, reaching an estimated 15,000 feet ASL (above sea level). The Aviation Color Code was increased to Red, as ash emissions can negatively affect aircraft flying in the vicinity of the ash plume. Sulfur dioxide emissions also increased in conjunction with the uptick in explosions from the volcano.

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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