Volcanic ash results in continuation of health advisory at Yokota
Yokota Air Base was continuing a health advisory issued Friday, triggered by Mount Asama’s eruptions and the impact of its volcanic ash and residue on people with chronic respiratory conditions, base officials said Monday.
The 8,425-foot volcano, about 93 miles northwest of Tokyo, erupted Sept. 1, causing forest fires and forcing 48 residents near the volcano to evacuate.
Thin layers of volcanic ash settled on cars as far away as Yokota Air Base, a base spokesman said.
“The advisory we issued Friday is that people with chronic respiratory ailments might consider using a dust mask or staying indoors if the ash becomes too bothersome,” said Lt. Warren Comer, a Yokota spokesman.
The Yokota advisory was issued only for that facility, Comer said.
“In addition, we warned people that if it rained, the rain mixed with the ash could cause slippery conditions.
“We also cautioned personnel to make sure their vehicle air and oil filters are in good shape, and if they become concerned about the ash harming electronic equipment, they should cover it with a cloth, careful to avoid placing it too close to electric outlets causing a fire hazard,” he added.
According to Capt. Richelle Dowdell, a U.S. Forces Japan spokesman, there is not an advisory for all Kanto Plain bases.
Since the initial eruption, Mount Asama, near the town of Karuizawa, has produced several smaller rumblings.
An official from the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Karuizawa Weather Station said the volcano, which is on the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures, is expected to be active at least a few months more. “Magma has been observed at the crater, just as when the mountain erupted in February 1973,” the spokesman said.
“At that time, there were five medium-scale eruptions along with frequent small-scale eruptions, which lasted until late May.”
Karuizawa, at the foot of Mount Asama, is a Japanese summer resort drawing about 100,000 tourists each year, said municipal official Kaori Yamabe.
“Ash was pretty bad last week,” Yamabe said. “If you were outside, your eyes and throats were irritated.”
She said town officials issued an advisory about the ash to residents last week through the town’s cable broadcast.
“Since there have been no new eruptions since Saturday, the ash bothers us very little now, except when winds blows … ash stirs up,” she said.
The weather station spokesman said the station would continue to monitor the volcano’s seismic activity closely. “We do not expect more than medium-scale eruptions to occur, based on the condition of the magma,” he said. “The volcano’s activity has slowed since Saturday.”
However, he said, in 1973, after a 20-day pause, “medium-scale eruptions resumed.”