Monday, March 28, 2016

Nomeward Bound... Not so fast!

I woke up this morning thinking I was going to Nome. I received a text message around 7 am telling me that my flight had been delayed 5 minutes. I thought a 5-minute delay several hours before the flight was scheduled to depart was odd, but what could I do about it? Then, at about 7:30 I received an email from Alaska Airlines telling me that Mt. Pavlof erupted yesterday and to watch the flight status. I continued to get ready while watching the flight status. Everything appeared to be fine. Grandma took me to the airport, I checked in and made it through security without a problem. About the time my flight should have started boarding they announced that the flight had been canceled due to weather. I thought the weather in Nome must have been bad because the weather in Anchorage was just fine. The announcement told us to see either a gate agent or a customer service agent (there is a customer service desk right beside the gate we were scheduled to depart from) in order to rebook our flights.
While I was waiting to rebook my flight the pilot came on the intercom and told us that the problem was the ash cloud from Mt. Palvof. She said that the ash cloud was traveling at 50 mph and that they had been told we could probably fly around the cloud and land in Nome, but the plane wouldn't be able to take off again. For those of you not familiar with flying in bush Alaska the planes turn around in towns like Nome and come back to Anchorage. There are no mechanics in Nome or other services (they do of course have a de-icer). When I got to the front of the line, the customer service agent asked me if I wanted to rebook for this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I didn't want to go through the airport mess again this afternoon and I thought if the ash cloud was headed toward Nome, but hadn't yet gotten there, there was a good chance this afternoon's flight would be canceled as well. I made the right choice. This afternoon's flight was in fact canceled.
I'm a little concerned about tomorrow's flight. On Tuesday's flight 151 (the first flight of 2 flights each day to Nome) is much earlier than it is other days. On the news tonight, they were talking about all the flights canceled (43, I believe. Not a lot for other places, but a lot for Alaska. There are 6 communities that currently are not being served) and said that the decision about whether or not tomorrow's flights would be canceled couldn't be made until after sunrise. My flight is scheduled to leave before sunrise. Tomorrow may be an interesting day. We'll have to wait and see.
I talked to my mom today after my flight was canceled, and we were talking about how it was better that I got stuck in Anchorage rather than in Nome. We were both thinking about how my colleagues in California would probably laugh if I got stuck and say something along the lines of, "Of course Kristin is the one to get stuck because of a volcano."
I'll have to wait and see whether I go to Nome at all. Mt. Pavlof is still erupting.
These photos are from

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