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Wyoming Feels Shockwave From Tonga Volcano; Could Affect Weather

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming over the weekend felt the shockwaves from a volcanic eruption half a world away.

However, only time will tell if the ash and gases released by the eruption 6,200 miles away from Wyoming will affect the state’s climate, according to meteorologist Don Day.

On Saturday, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano near Tonga erupted in what may be the largest volcanic eruption seen in the last 30 years, according to CNN.

This eruption caused tsunamis on Tonga’s largest island and caused shockwaves that would ultimately go around the world. No information has been released yet on deaths due to the volcano, but two deaths in Peru were blamed on resulting tsunamis.

The eruption caused a change in the air pressure could be felt in Jackson and western Wyoming around 5:30 a.m. Saturday. The rest of the state had a pressure change within the next 45 minutes, Day said.

“This eruption is just amazing,” Day said. “If you were on Mars, you could have seen it, that’s how big the eruption was. But as for the shockwave here, unless you knew a volcano went off and were a total geek, looking at the air pressure, you would have never known it happened.”

Day said that he is regularly asked if a volcanic eruption can affect the weather and climate.

His response?

“Absolutely.”

However, he said that certain developments need to occur during an eruption for it to affect the weather, such as volcanic ash and other released gases needing to hit the stratosphere, the second layer of atmosphere. He also said when and where the volcano erupts play a part in the weather effects.

Day pointed to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which ejected 20 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide and caused global temperatures to drop 0.5 degrees between 1991 and 1993.

Because the weather-related effects of a volcanic eruption cannot be seen immediately, Day said it is hard to predict how the Tonga volcano will affect the weather in Wyoming.

“This is probably not going to change our weather tomorrow or within the next week,” he said. “But I think the best thing to do is monitor the situation.”

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World’s Top Seismologist: Yellowstone Volcano Is Still Not Going to Blow-Up Soon

in Yellowstone/News
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Good news. Yellowstone National Park is still unlikely to blow up any time soon.

Despite speculation by some in the media that Yellowstone’s so-called “super-volcano” is getting ready to blow up, the world’s foremost seismic expert scoffed at the thought.

Bob Smith, who has studied seismology in Yellowstone for more than 60 years, told Cowboy State Daily that the latest round of discussion about the volcano exploding is just “hyperbole”.

“There is no imminent threat,” Smith said while laughing. “There is no likelihood that it’s going to happen any time soon.”

The longtime professor at the University of Utah and the founding member of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory said his office is used to “near constant” speculation that the park is going to blow up but said there was “no evidence to support the speculation.”

What seems to have started the discussion are reports that the seismic activity in the park in July — which was above normal — is something to be concerned about.

Anything but, Smith said. He said although there were more earthquakes — the overwhelming majority of which couldn’t be felt — but the activity was so insignificant that his office didn’t even put out a press release on it.

“There’s always a chance it could happen,” Smith said. “But that chance is .00014% per year. That’s an exceedingly small probability.”

The professor acknowledged the volcano will have an eruption at some point as it is still a living volcano, but there would likely be signs beforehand that would portend a major explosion.

“We have a very modern seismograph network of 35 stations which report back in real-time to the University of Utah,” Smith said.  “And we have a staff of people who are trained to analyze all of the earthquake activity in Yellowstone.”

Smith said no one on his staff was concerned with the earthquake activity in July.  

“We have a mathematical physics-based approach, not wild speculation,” Smith said, laughing again.

He said the largest earthquake in July registered a 3.6 — which is the “minimum range of people being able to feel it.”

“The activity in July wasn’t unusual at all,” he said.

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich was in Yellowstone on a fishing trip the last time a magnitude 4 earthquake hit Yellowstone.

“There was some screaming going on and people worried that the volcano was going to explode,” Ulrich said of the June, 2017 quake. “Their screams — not the earthquake — were startling. So much so that I accidentally dropped my flyrod in the river and this wasn’t a cheap-ass Snoopy flyrod you buy at K-Mart. Sadly, it could not be retrieved. I hate that damn volcano.””

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Science TV Show: If Yellowstone Blew Up, We’d Die, $3 Trillion In Damages Caused

in Yellowstone/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A video predicting what would happen if Yellowstone National Park’s “supervolcano” erupted today has generated more than 1 million views for a popular TV show and YouTube channel.

The TV show “RealLifeLore”, which boasts more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube, tackled the topic of Yellowstone’s volcano exploding and what will happen when that happens.

Just so we’re clear, scientists have repeatedly said that the caldera isn’t going to erupt for another 100,000 years at least.

In its video, RealLifeLore explained the timeline of Yellowstone’s major volcanic eruptions, the last of which occurred around 174,000 years ago, creating what is now the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake.

There have been 60 smaller eruptions since, the last of which occurred around 70,000 years ago.

“Before any massive eruption would take place, it would very likely be preceded by a huge amount of seismic activity, basically a warning sign that something really bad was about to happen,” RealLifeLore said in the video.

Seismologists have theorized that there will be a number of large earthquakes occurring before any major eruption in the park.

The pressure in the caldera would continue to build until magma exploded through the ground “in a cataclysmic eruption,” with debris being launched as high as 14 miles into the air. The lava would overtake anything within a 40-mile radius from the epicenter, burning everything in its path.

Debris from the lava exploding from the ground would be shot into the air, with more than 600 square miles of material being ejected into the sky, creating an umbrella cloud and darkening the skies over North America.

“This cloud would rain down toxic volcanic ash across the entire mainland United States,” RealLifeLore said. “Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Utah will, however, experience the most significant devastation.”

The video added we’d be buried under up to 3 feet of hot, toxic ash, which sounds way worse than the blizzard we complained so much about in March.

Humans, plants and animals would be killed by the ash, and buildings would be destroyed by the density of the ash deposits. Farmlands, roads and water would all be affected by the ash from the volcano.

“What could be even worse, the ash would likely wipe out the entire Midwest’s crop of corn and soybeans and even poison the farmland for a generation,” RealLifeLore said.

The caldera’s eruption could possibly cool down the entire globe’s temperature by 10 degrees for a decade, which would cause a global catastrophe. The video also noted that a federal report said that a disaster like this occurring in Yellowstone would cause $3 trillion in damages.

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