Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tornes Homer Alaska culture dispatch: Volcano and King Salmon

Redoubt volcano and Homer, Alaska.

Bexley Public Radio Alaska culture correspondent Joanna Tornes began her Thursday Homer, Alaska culture dispatch with a reassuring message that there was no danger threatened to Homer Alaska by the Redoubt volcano eruptions.

After almost a month of monitoring increased seismic activity at Redoubt volcano, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reported that beginning Sunday March 22, 2009 and continuing through Friday, Redoubt Volcano has been producing multiple explosive eruptions. Each of the eruptions lasted from four to thirty minutes.

National Weather Service radar, pilot reports, and AVO analysis of satellite imagery indicate that these eruptions produced ash clouds that reached 60,000 ft above sea level above sea level with the bulk of the ash volume between 25 - 30,000 feet.

Traces of ash fall have been reported in Skwentna, Talkeetna, Wasilla, and Trapper Creek.

The Bexley Public Radio Homer Alaska culture correspondent reported that traces of ash have also reached Homer Alaska following additional eruptions on Thursday morning..

Thursday’s explosive eruptions caused melting of the Drift glacier and greatly increased discharge down the Drift River.

The eruptions were preceded by approximately 60 hours of elevated seismicity in the form of discrete earthquakes under the volcano.

Citing the AVO as her source,, Tornes reported that the increased seismicity was caused by movement of magma toward the surface.

Prior to last weekend, Redoubt had exhibited signs of volcanic unrest beginning in the Fall of 2008 which then escalated in late January, 2009.

Thursday’s explosions were the first significant ash-producing eruptions of the unrest.

Tornes reported that the AVO also cautioned that further explosive activity can occur with little or no warning. This threat can exist intermittently for weeks or months.

AVO is staffed 24 hours per day will issue further information as it becomes available.

On Thursday, Joanna Tornes reported to her Bexley audience that there was no danger from Redoubt to her residence in the Homer community. As she was making that report a further major eruption occurred at Redoubt. The ash fall from that eruption reached Homer and Tornes updated her report when the ash was detectable at Homer.

Tornes also provided updates based on Anchorage Daily News reports about aviation flights. As of Thursday, she said that southern flights were still taking off but that airlines were canceling flights to the north.

Homer Alaska 2009 Winter King Salmon Derby

Joanna Tornes, Bexley Public Radio culture correspondent, then reported on the local late winter fishing tournament.

Homer's 2009 Winter King Salmon Derby was won by Robert Say of Anchorage. The winning catch in the 16th annual tournament was a 28.5 pound King Salmon.

The tournament is conducted in the still cold late winter weather with snow and freezing temperatures. The derby offers $110,000 in cash prizes and merchandise.

The derby is sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce, The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is also involved and provided free vessel safety checks at the Homer Harbor launch ramp and then served as a safety patrol during the contest.

Anglers from the Anchorage area dominated the standings in this 16th annual event. Seven of the top 10 finishers, including tournament winner Robert Say, registered from either Anchorage or Eagle River.

Robert Say won the top prize of $16,683 by landing a 28.5-pound fish. Say was fishing aboard the vessel Waterwheels. Say has participated in the contest for the last six years.

The Waterwheels was captained by Joel Wheeler.

The second place win was taken by Kevin Scheele of Eagle River. He was fishing aboard the Memory Maker. He took a 27.3-pounder.

Third place went to Robert Fisher of Anchorage with a 26.8-pound king salmon.

Gregory Stone, also of Anchorage, and Kenny Jones of Soldotna took prizes for fourth and fifth place.

At the weigh-in party, Wheeler was awarded the John Hillstrand Memorial Trophy, named in honor of the late John Hillstrand, and took home $8,362.50 in side bet winnings.

A total of 804 anglers, aboard 227 boats, participated in this year's tournament, catching a total of 70 fish.
This year’s total catch was slightly less than the 72 fish caught in the 2008 tournament by 793 competitors.

The top 10 finishers this year took home cash prizes, totalling $60,225 while side bet winners took home $41,156.29. T

The tournament's sponsor, the Homer Chamber of Commerce, handed out a total of more than $110,000 in cash and merchandise.

Tina Day, executive director Homer Chamber of Commerce reported that there were 804 anglers and 227 boat captains in this years tournament. Tina Day said that the competition depended on the work of 33 volunteers, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Additionally, the efforts and support of Coal Point Seafood Co., Era Aviation, Alaska's Hallo Bay Bear Camp, Kachemak Gear Shed, The Sports Shed, Ulmer's Drug & Hardware, Duggan's Waterfront Pub and Alaskan Brewing Co., made the tournament possible.

Tina Day also acknowledged many other sponsors and prize donors.

Tina Day also listed the members of the Winter King Committee as additional volunteers who made the derby possible. Committee members are: Tabor Ashment, Pete Wedin, John Ketelle, Sandy Owen, Mary Ann Rowe, Ann Koskovich, Ron Hurley, Don Flynn, and Scott Ulmer.

A photograph of this year’s winner and the winning catch can be seen at The photograph is by Homer News journalist and photographer Aaron Selbig.

Bexley Public Radio culture correpondent Joanna Tornes relied on reporting by Aaron Selbig of the Homer News for much of this dispatch. Tornes also used information supplied by the Homer Chamber of Commerce in preparing this dispatch.


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