Dan Joling of AP:
The Associated Press: Volcano monitors spot on with warnings: ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A month after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal complained about wasteful spending in President Obama's economic stimulus package, including money for "something called 'volcano monitoring,'" Alaska pilots were grateful for such expenditures. The Alaska Volcano Observatory was ready with warnings to flight officials when Alaska's Mount Redoubt blew five times Sunday night and Monday morning, sending potentially deadly ash clouds north of Anchorage.
The volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Alaska's largest city, blew at night and even after sunrise was socked in by clouds, obscuring dangerous ash that can clog jet engines and knock aircraft from the sky. However, readings from seismometers and atmospheric pressure sensors alerted scientists that an eruption had occurred. Weather radar confirmed the presence of an ash cloud that ascended more than 11 miles above sea level. "Without instruments in the ground, we would not have been able to tell you this was coming," said John Power, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
Volcano monitoring became a political issue when Jindal gave the Republican response to President Obama's message to Congress on the economic stimulus package. Jindal said the package was "larded with wasteful spending," including $140 million for volcano monitoring. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Anchorage wrote Jindal and said volcano monitoring is a matter of life and death in his state. He made the point again after the eruptions. "I sleep better knowing the scientists are at work at the AVO keeping track of this activity," he said by e-mail...