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Ash Saturday, without the ash

So both Keflavík and Reykjavík airports are closed today due to volcanic ash.

The ash fallout was predicted, and I fully expected to wake up today to find everything covered in a thin layer of gray dust. In fact I was dead curious to finally be able to see some of that insidious matter that has been wreaking havoc across the world over the last two weeks, with my own two eyes.

But when I got up, the sky was clear, the sun was shining, and there was no ash. NADA.

Granted, the air is a tad hazier than usual, and when I went out for a walk just now I could feel like an ultra-fine sediment on the inside of my throat and nostrils. But really, it was nothing more than on some of those dry and cold winter days, when all those studded tires are tearing up the asphalt around here.

Seems weird that this alone can close down two whole airports.

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  • TomThumb April 24, 2010, 8:16 pm

    Speaking of getting around, can I ride around Reykjavik on my bike? You mentioned the dust from snowtire studs. Are the roads passable for bikes? Are there any bike paths between the city center and the outskirts of town?

  • Joerg April 24, 2010, 8:31 pm

    I couldn’t see the ash cloud either, when airspace in Germany was closed last week. I was just attributing a certain haze to it.

    I hope, Icelandair has gained some routine in their flights to Keflavik being redirected via Glasgow/Akureyri/Egilstaðir. I’m getting a bit nervous about my scheduled flight to Iceland end of next week. When I called their office in Frankfurt yesterday morning to inquire about the situation, the reaction of the woman I talked to was like “Keflavik airport is closed? Oh, I’ll have to call you back.” Of course, she never did. Apparently, I was her first customer in the morning and her prospects of a quiet weekend had come to an abrupt stop.     

  • Árni Víkingur April 25, 2010, 5:53 am

    Had to respond to Tom Thumb… Yes- there are specific multi-use paths for bikes away from traffic- which include tunnels or bridges to cross main traffic roads. These paths go from city center to some outskirts, even other towns around Reykjavik.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland April 25, 2010, 12:23 pm

    @joerg get the train from germany to norway then get the ferry to iceland ha ha. I think what happened is the winds in iceland have shifted and also I think those guys dont know how much ash a jet engine can take.

    @Alda I think it was all at 20,000 feet , they reckoned there was ashfall in ireland but it was scientifico instrument detection, not like my mum had wash the windows and redo her laundry ha ha.

  • TomThumb April 25, 2010, 6:34 pm

    Thanks Arni & Alda. I would like to be able to use my bike for transportation. Looks like I may need the paddle boat type of bike arrangement if nature’s unplanned events continue as scheduled on chance. Take care everyone and let’s be safe instead of in a hurry!

  • Alexander E. April 25, 2010, 6:55 pm

    Went to Skogafoss on April 24th.
    A couple of photos at the forum’s “weather” thread with links to more photos from the trip.

    As to grounded flights – this is the best (worst actually) example of some “european” authorities using PYA method to avoid any responsibility for anything (but being paid well).

    PS. PYA – protect you a…

  • Joerg April 25, 2010, 9:04 pm

    @Kevin: The ferry to Iceland leaves from Denmark and, yes, that’s an option for people, who have the time. 😉

    @Alexander: Absolutely correct about CYA. And the most absurd thing happening was, when they allowed planes to take off, although the airports were still officially closed, by implementing visual flight rules and thus shifting the responsibility to the pilots.

    And thanks for the pictures, I still hope to get a view like this soon. 🙂

  • idunn April 25, 2010, 9:06 pm

    In Britain’s election campaign some conservatives have blamed Nick Clegg for a host of things, due his robust performance in the first debate, thus threat. In response there have been numerous satirical rebuttals blaming him for everything, such as this one on Twitter:

    “Nick Clegg was seen two weeks ago poking Eyjafjallajokull with a stick.”

  • Peter - London April 25, 2010, 9:11 pm

    “As to grounded flights – this is the best (worst actually) example of some “european” authorities using PYA method to avoid any responsibility for anything (but being paid well).”

    The maximum level for volcanic ash to operate a jet engine was set by the airlines. They refused to agree a level other than zero becuase they didn’t want the liability issue if it turned out wrong. The governments simply applied that level, so it reality it was the airlines using PYA not governments.

  • Pauline April 25, 2010, 11:08 pm

    So hear I am finally in Glasgow. I left Akranes at 5.15 am on Saturday morning feeling pleased that I had the foresight to ask Fly bus if they would pick me up on the north side of the hvalfjörður tunnel (to save me the ride into Rvk) on their way up to Akureyri to catch the redircted flight there. Got on the bus at 5.35am arrived at Akureyri airport at 10.40. Waited an hour and 20 minutes in a queue outside the building in the cold but sunny weather. Another hour in the rest of the queue inside the small building only to get to the desk to be told that there was some mistake and I was not booked on this flight but I was on the 9pm flight. My original ticket was for 10am in Keflavik. There were at least 6 of us who were apparently “bumpted” for passengers who had been waiting for some days to get out of Iceland.

    Luckily my husband had a relative who picked me up and I got some well needed snooze time and food and then was driven back to the airport at 6pm. Another “problem” with my ticket and I was shunted to the side until that was sorted, then we had to wait until nearly 9pm when it was announced that the flight would be postponed until 23.30. All the time there was the rumour that we might be bused the 4 hour trip to Egilstaðir as passengers had been the day before. Finally we took off at 12 midnight arriving in Glasgow at 3pm UK time (2am Icelandic time).

    About 9pm I met an old friend in the airport. She was going to London but had to fly through Glasgow and wait 8 hours for her flight to London, where she was going to have to wait another 8 hours for her next flight to Korea. Lady luck was smiling on her as she came with me back to my dads, got 5 hours sleep, a shower and breakfast and then I drove her back to the airport.

    There was such a wonderful atmosphere of camoradory in the airport. People sharing food and drink with those with none, looking after one anothers luggage to let others go to the loo or eat etc (instead of freaking out it might be a bomb 🙂 ) Sharing newspapers, playing cards together etc. It all helped to make it bearable. We were just one day, I felt for those in mainland Europe and around the world who were camped out at airports for several days.

    So now, I am keeping my eyes on the news and hope both Glasgow and any Icelandic airport will be open next Saturday 1st May when I plan to return home to Iceland.

    BTW local headline here yesterday said ” Iceland gets a taste of its own medicine.”

    LoVe Pauline

  • D_Boone April 26, 2010, 7:49 am

    Hi the airport closures remind me of a time about 14 years ago when I flew near an erupting volcano regularly on commercial flights (we dodged it obviously) further on it was so thick you could barely see the ground above about 10,000 feet because of a reddish haze. We were not in the plume though. The cars where we landed were covered in a thin layer of red dust…. This went on for a few weeks. I think Europe has sort of overreacted a bit as nobody was reporting this level of ash.

    http://www.volcano.si.edu/volcanoes/region04/newzeal/ruapehu/2105rua1.jpg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Ruapehu

  • NickB May 13, 2010, 4:31 pm

    What happens next? The UK CAA announced yesterday that it had removed the flight restrictions completely. First the airspace was closed (for almost a week), then there was a 60 mile exclusion zone, now nothing. Yet the Spanish and Portuguese are still closing their airspace. Some volcanologists (none named Spok, shame!) suggest that a sister volcano could erupt, others than it will all die down. I am very confused !