Increased activity was reported at Italy's Mount Etna starting around 09:00 UTC on January 26, 2019. The Aviation Color Code was raised from Orange to Red.
Volcanic ash is not detectable on satellite imagery due to a meteorological cloud. However, significant volcanic ash is present above the volcano, The Toulouse VAAC reported 10:12 UTC, January 26.
Volcanic ash was later estimated at a height of 5.5 km (18 000 feet) above sea level.
The activity decreased around 18:00 UTC. Volcanic ash was still not detectable on satellite imagery in spite of good visibility, the Toulouse VAAC said. Some volcanic ash is possible in the direct vicinity of the volcano, it added.
The management company of the Catania airport announced the closure of airspace until at least 10:00 UTC on January 27. While the airport is still open, no aircraft can currently leave or land.
Passengers are asked to inquire about the status of their flight with the airlines.
A new flank eruption, the first in nearly 11 years, began at Mount Etna on December 24, 2018, forcing authorities to raise the Aviation Color Code to Red.
An intense earthquake swarm started at the volcano at 07:50 UTC, with more than 130 earthquakes in the first three hours. The largest was M4.0 at 12:08 UTC, located on the NE side of the volcano at a depth of 2 km (1.2 miles).
The seismic activity was accompanied by a gradual increase in the degassing from the summit, initially with sporadic ash emissions emitted by the Bocca Nuova and the NE Crater which culminated at about 11:00 UTC with increased explosive activity and a continuous dense plume of dark ash. According to the Toulouse VAAC, volcanic ash cloud rose up to 5.5 km (18 000 feet) above sea level.
Featured image: Skiing under erupting Mount Etna on January 26, 2019. Credit: Skyline Webcams