The National Weather Service has issued a volcano watch for Southwest Virginia, southern West Virginia, and the mountainous parts of Tennessee and North Carolina.
A volcano watch means conditions are right for volcano development. Should a volcano develop in your area, make sure you are prepared for heavy ash fall, hot clouds of poisonous gas, and lava flows in excess of 60 miles per hour.
Never attempt to cross standing lava in your car.
When questioned about the likelihood of volcano development, a NWS spokeswoman said, “We didn’t think tornados were likely in this area either, but we had several of those this spring. Then in August we had an earthquake, followed by a hurricane in the same week.
“At the National Weather Service, we believe that keeping citizens safe means being proactive in determining the threat level and keeping people informed.
In this case, we believe that the east coast is going for what we call the Natural Disaster Grand Slam, and that will have to include a volcanic eruption.”
The lack of active, or indeed any, volcanoes in the area should not lull people into a false sense of security. “We know that Pilot Mountain is an igneous formation, part of an ancient volcanic neck. We believe that could become active again.”
What can citizens expect if the southern Appalachians suddenly erupt in volcanoes?
Ms. Spokeswoman said the first signs are usually smoking holes in the ground not associated with any known steam pipes or college campuses.
Often the holes will grow rapidly larger, and this will be accompanied by earthquakes. In fact, last week’s earthquake near Mineral could be a volcano waking up.
It’s also important to be aware of dirt falling from the sky. Volcanoes throw up a great deal of ash and dust, which falls to the ground again, covering every available surface in a gritty film.
In the event that dirt starts to fall from the sky and it is not, in fact, from your neighbor’s lawnmower (he should never be mowing when it’s this dry), citizens should cover their mouths with handkerchiefs after the manner of the late Billy the Kid.
Ms. Spokesperson also stressed that the untrained average citizen should remain indoors for the duration of the eruption.
Trained scientific personnel know when to run, she said, while citizens just stand there and gawk. Please do not put yourself at risk, since emergency personnel will not be coming out in the height of the eruption.
If you have to evacuate to a Volcano Shelter, make sure you bring food, water, clothes, pets, and a sacrificial virgin, just in case.
Buildings designated as Volcano Shelters will have the familiar “Krakatoa” volcano sign on the walls, which will be eight feet thick and covered with sprinkler heads.
If there is no volcano shelter nearby, you are instructed to drive until you find one or until you are out of reach of the volcano threat.
Remember, in the height of volcano season, you need to keep a volcano kit nearby. This kit should include a flame-retardant suit, a fire extinguisher, and gas masks attached to a secure oxygen supply. The kit should also have a flashlight and batteries, just because.
If the volcano erupts in your back yard, do not endeavor to put it out with the fire extinguisher.
Remove yourself and your family from the premises as soon as possible, realizing that you probably will not be able to return home, ever. Take your medicines and valuables with you, and be sure to remember the family pet.
Please stay tuned for further volcano watch updates.