April 20, 2010

Volcanic Ash

Posted in News, Travel, Weather, Work tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:13 am by Liliana

Volcanic Ash in Europe

Volcanic Ash Over Europe

Icelandic’s largest volcano first erupted on March 20th, spewing fire fountains of hot magma over 300 feet high, while rivers of molten lava flowed into the valleys. On April 14th, the mountain exploded again, sending a plume of ash higher than 30,000 feet into the atmosphere. Carried on a jet stream and wind currents, the ash spread across most of Europe.

Air travel in Europe came to a stop because of fear that ash would clog up the engines and cause engine failure. Thousands of people were stuck in airports and desperately searched for alternative modes of transportation.

The volcano made disruptions to life as we know it: military bases in Afghanistan couldn’t get their rations while European supermarkets remain empty of fresh meat and produce. Fresh food was rotting in warehouses. Organ transplants were disrupted and organs redistributed to those within driving distance. Concerts and sporting events were canceled and an untold number of ordinary people had their life disrupted in one way or another. Many world leaders canceled attendance at the funeral of the Polish president, the first lady and many of the country’s dignitaries.

The World Health Organization warned that ash could cause breathing problems for those with asthma and respiratory illnesses and advised people to stay indoors. Some said that the tiny particles could reach deep regions of the lungs and cause long term health problems. Other experts said that inhaling the ash was not dangerous.

As of this morning, some of the flights at the smaller airports in Europe are resuming, but most of the big hubs remain closed. The volcano is still spewing ash, although more lava is flowing and experts say that is a good sign.  How long will this last? No one knows. Stranded travelers are hoping not too much longer.