Iceland Volcano Eruption Continues, Volcanic Ash May Hit UK, France, Spain

Update: (Tuesday, May 24, 9:35am EST) here: Iceland Volcano Causes Flights of Thousands to be Cancelled.

The Grimsvotn volcano continues to erupt at the same levels as it has since Saturday, the eruption is reportedly “much bigger and more intensive” than Eyjafjallajökull eruption last year and 10 times bigger than Grimvotn’s eruption in 2004. However, it is not expected to have nearly the same effect on air traffic as the Eyjafjallajökull eruption (and the 2004 Gromsvotn eruption had little effect). Why?

For one, the volcanic ash is apparently heavier, which makes it fall to the ground faster (spread less). Secondly, the air patterns are more changeable and the ash is less likely to be blown into Europe as much as Eyjafjallajökull’s ash was. And thirdly, the aviation industry has updated its volcanic ash safety procedures and requirements for such events since last year and should cut down on the impact to flights tremendously even if ash does fly into Europe.

Based on current 5-day weather forecasts, experts predict that volcanic ash could spread to the UK by Thursday (and, subsequently. other European countries like France and Spain). However, the current forecasts are very uncertain, and no one has much certainty about what will happen.

Iceland has cancelled all domestic flights and about 40 international flights, but flight bans could be lifted soon if the eruption slows down and volcanic ash doesn’t hang around.

Air traffic is not expected to be as affected by this eruption even if volcanic ash spreads largely because of updates to volcanic ash guidelines in the airline industry. “Under previous guidelines, aeroplanes were summarily grounded if there was any volcanic ash in the air,” the Guardian writes. “Now, airlines can fly through ash plumes if they have a safety case demonstrating that their fleets can handle medium or high-level densities of ash.”

Again, I’ll keep you updated with any major news as it comes in.

Information retrieved from various sources.

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Image Credit: screenshot of YouTube video

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