SOLYMONE BLOG

AMID VOLCANO ERUPTION, ICELAND CLOSES MAIN AIRPORTS


REYKJAVIK, ICELAND -Ash from a volcano in Iceland has forced the country's main airport to shut down, as the rest of European airspace returned to normal following days of chaos.
The ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano could reach northern Scotland by Tuesday and parts of Britain, France and Spain by Thursday or Friday if the eruption continues at the same rate, airlines were warned on Sunday.
The warning is based on latest 5-day weather forecasts, but must be treated with caution because of the forecast period and the presence of different air currents from those prevailing at the time of last year's ash crisis, weather officials said.
  • European authorities said on Sunday no disruption was expected to European or transatlantic airspace over the next 24 hours from the eruption of Iceland's most active volcano on Saturday.
  • Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 20 kilometres into the air.
  • The eruption was far larger than one a year ago that caused international travel chaos - but scientists said it was unlikely to have the same widespread effect.
  • University of Iceland geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano was "much bigger and more intensive than Eyjafjallajokull", the volcano whose April 2010 eruption shut Europe's airspace for five days.
  • "There is a very large area in southeast Iceland where there is almost total darkness and heavy fall of ash," he said. "But it is not spreading nearly as much. The winds are not as strong as they were in Eyjafjallajokull."
  • He said the ash is coarser than in last year's eruption, falling to the ground more quickly. The ash plunged areas near the volcano into darkness and covered buildings, cars and fields in a thick layer of grey soot Sunday.
  • Civil protection workers urged residents to wear masks and stay indoors. Airport and air traffic control operator ISAVIA said Keflavik airport, the country's main hub, was closed at 0830 GMT (12.30pm UAE time), and would stay shut for the rest of the day.
Spokeswoman Hjordis Gudmundsdottir said the ash plume was covering Iceland, but "the good news is that it is not heading to Europe".
She said the ash was blowing northwest toward Greenland instead. Trans-Atlantic flights were being diverted away from Iceland, and there was no indication the eruption would cause the widespread travel disruption triggered last year by ash from Eyjafjallajokull.
Source: Agency
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