A eruption model for Mount Baker today (December 3, 2013) shows that Bellingham could get over an inch of ash (click on the map at left). That would make a nasty mess. Consider: the wind is blowing, so ash would swirl through your neighborhood. The forecast is dry, so no rain to wash it away, or at least help get it out of trees and off surfaces and into the soil. Frequent updates to the complete simulation for eruptions on any given day, using the current wind direction is posted under the ‘monitoring’ tab at the top of this page. It is important to note that no Baker ash has ever been recognized from soil profiles in western Whatcom County. Such wind patterns are relatively uncommon, except in winter. Note that even Seattle gets a trace today. The ash plume would shut down all aircraft traffic into the region. Hope you weren’t planning a flight to Hawai’i! (Addendum at 10:30 AM PST: the model from later today, with a stronger north wind that developed mid-morning, shows that Seattle is now well into the plume.)
Renewed eruptions at Mount Baker could conceivably have a month’s notice via seismometer monitoring– or as little as a day or so. Got your paper mask handy?
The current eruptions at the andesitic Sinabung volcano 40 km northwest of Lake Toba, North Sumatra may serve as a reminder of possibilities here. Read more about Sinabung’s renewed eruptions, following a long period of quiescence, on Erik Klemetti’s Eruptions Blog.