The Yellowstone caldera blows - most of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho covered in ash

A mere 70,000 years after its last explosive eruption, the Yellowstone super volcano suddenly went critical, erupting with the force of a hundred H-Bombs. The eruption was classified as “Colossal” and is estimated to be fifty times the size of the Mt St Helens blast in 1980.

The ash cloud, which rose 40km into the sky, has reached Europe and Africa and will encircle the planet in another week. Fortunately the advanced warning systems and disaster preparedness protocols kept human lives lost to a minimum.

For the last 45 years, scientists have been monitoring Yellowstone’s natural activity, and their sensors have developed accurate models for impending earthquakes and eruptions. Orderly evacuations made sure that there were few casualties.

“We’ve been preparing for this for 30 years,” said FEMA director Mary Wilson. “We knew it was inevitable, we just didn’t know when!”

The ash cloud is proving to be the biggest challenge. Nano-fibre surgical masks protect people’s lungs completely, and livestock and domestic animals are safe indoors, but wildlife will suffer. Sunlight over the United States is reduced to about 20% of normal, and California’s vast solar power farms are effectively disabled. All airline flights are cancelled indefinitely, until the skies are clearer.

States with the deepest ash carpets have been prioritised as disaster zones. Crop destruction is widespread, but indoor urban farms are keeping the food supply chain going.

The traditional New Year’s Eve parties in Washington and New York have been cancelled. There’s much to be done, and little cause to celebrate.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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