What a strange day it’s been today. [Or, well, technically yesterday, since it is now past midnight.] No sooner had I responded to this post in the forums about the extreme rarity of ash fall in Reykjavík than the sun vanished behind a thick cloud of — you guessed it — ash.
And then it just kept getting worse. It was completely bizarre, like nothing I’ve ever seen in this city before. I mean, we occasionally have fog, but that’s kind of cold and wet. This was dry and warm and the moment you went outside you felt ash inside your mouth and nostrils. A little bit like I experienced when EPI and I travelled into the ash cloud a few weeks ago, but of course not quite as extreme. Everything was obliterated by this thick kind of smog, only without the acerbic pollution feel. Visibility was probably only around one or two kilometres [which is rare so far north, where the air is usually so clear]. You couldn’t see Mt. Esja across the bay. And as I said, you couldn’t see the sun. Only occasionally did it manage to pierce through the mist, with a sort of diffused sunlight.
Here’s a picture I snapped on my mobile this evening:
I went to the gym this afternoon and ran inside on the treadmill. Through the window I could see a running group gathering [they meet there every day at around 5 pm] and when they set off a few of them had kerchiefs tied over their faces to shield their mouth and nose. I don’t know what the others were thinking — I would not have wanted to be doing heavy duty aerobic exercise outdoors today. NOT a good idea.
The level of ash was something like 400 milligrams per square metre, which is way over the health safety level, which is 50 mg per m2. In Hvolsvöllur, apparently, near the crater, it was around 3,000 mg per m2. I figure that’s likely what it was when EPI and I were there.
Bizarrely, though, there was no disruption to flights today, even without this thick cloud of ash. Which I find completely strange, since flights were cancelled repeatedly in the past few weeks even though not a speck of ash could be discerned by us plebeians at the time. Gives one pause, no?
Apparently the volcano has been showing some signs of unrest this evening, although scientists say it’s impossible to predict what it means. Could just be magma pushing its way to the surface, or steam explosions. Here’s hoping.