DISCUSSION: Vanuatu, a nation of islands located in the Pacific Ring of Fire (between Australia and Hawaii), is home to about 280,000 people and stretches nearly 800 miles. Ranked as the country most at risk for natural disasters in the world, recent volcanic activity has now added to Vanuatu’s reputation. On the island of Ambae, recent activity from the Monaro volcano has forced the entire population of the island of approximately 11,000 to evacuate. Most of those who evacuated are being transported by boat or are airlifted to one of the other nearly 80 islands in the island chain.
With rocks and gas spewing from the volcano, the government has issued the second-highest alert possible in their volcanic alert system for the first time ever at Level 4 (Level 5 indicates an eruption is imminent). Although they can measure seismic activity, it is impossible to predict exactly when an eruption will occur.
In addition, evacuations have been underway on the island of Bali in Indonesia. Mount Agung (in photo), a volcano located in the northeast region of the island, has been at its highest alert level for about a week. Nearly 134,000 people have been strongly urged to leave their homes. When the volcano last erupted in 1963, lava traveled 4.7 miles, ash was hurled up 12 miles, and about 1,100 people lost their lives.
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©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri