On February 2, 2013 residents of Flores Island reported rumblings and explosive sounds from the area near the Paluweh (Rokatenda) volcano, followed a cloud of fine volcanic ash spreading over the island. News articles report that Paluweh erupted explosively at about 2300 local time on that date. All residents from that island were told to wear masks as protection against the ash, and were evacuated as ash fell on February 2 and 3.
Based on satellite imagery, pilot reports and wind data, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported ash plumes rising up to 13.1 – 13.7 km (43,000 – 45,000 ft). Later estimates suggest that the maximum height of the plume was likely less than that height. On February 3, ash plumes continued rising to about 7.6 km (25,000 ft).
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the region on February 2 at 0200 UTC and captured this colorful image of the pre-eruptive Paluweh. A broad plume of steam and light colored ash can be seen billowing from the volcano and blowing due south across Flores Island. To the west a fan of brightly colored green glows in the water. This green is clearly associated with the event, and may be material released during an early part of the pyroclastic flow associated with the eruption or may be ash in the water. The fan most closely resembles debris fans created by dome-collapse pyroclastic flows on Soufriere Hill on Montserrat.