Volcanic Ash

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I woke up this morning as all mornings to the relaxing tones of the Today Programme on Radio 4. I find this an excellent way of being dragged into the land of the living, plus it updates me on what is happening in the world.

This morning I awoke to hear that most UK air flights were cancelled or severely delayed. Why I thought? It must be due to a major incident? The first thought these days is some form of terrorist action – not a nice thought at 6.45 in the morning!

But no, it turns out that we have a large cloud of volcanic ash heading towards the North of Scotland! Now when I was learning to fly I do recall reading that flying into clouds of volcanic ash in jet aircraft especially was a very bad idea! It’s not actually the loss of visibility that is the biggest problem, but the damage the dust which is very sharp and abrasive can do to the engine (think pumice).

Apparently we have a ‘volcanic ash advisory service’ which is part of the Met Office, they have released details and charts mapping the cloud.

It will be interesting to see if the cloud moves South and affects the London airports. Manchester is closed already.

Once in a while we awake to a ‘once in a life time’ event – this is without doubt one of them!

UPDATE 9.30am It appears this is one of the few things that can actually derail the election campaign! Big hitters are having to re-arrange their visits North of the border.

UPDATE 10.30am All UK non emergency flights are grounded from noon until 18:00 today!

UPDATE 16th April 7.15am: This is quite unprecedented. All air traffic in the south of the UK at a minimum has been grounded until 7pm tonight. This is also subject to review, so may still be extended! Some flights may manage to get out of Western Scotland and Ireland later today if the cloud follows the route expected.

On the day after the first election debate who would have expected news about a cloud to be up at the top of the news as well!


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