Off to England: Volcano Doom

By Kathleen Bromelow
Elm Staff Writer

As you may have heard, the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused travel chaos throughout Europe. I had anticipated flying to Belfast this past weekend, but as a result of a large cloud of volcanic ash no flights were being offered. Even though I myself was not stuck in an airport, it was reported that more than 2.5 million travelers were affected by the closure of UK airspace.

When I first learned of the eruption, I was a bit concerned. Scientists said they had no idea how long the eruptions would last and said the movements of ash clouds were dependent on the winds. The news seemed to be filled with human interest stories that chronicled the travel woes of stranded travelers. The BBC even had a live feed where stranded passengers could either e-mail or tweet their thoughts.

The BBC reported that Prime Minster Gordon Brown sent HMS Albion to Spain to get stranded civilians and soldiers coming back from Afghanistan. Though Brown has been criticized for this action, some see it as a publicity stunt for the upcoming general election.

Of course, I was wondering how this volcano was being covered at home in America. When I read highlights from the American news outlets I realized that they all alluded to the dangers of flying through ash clouds and all referenced a flight in which a plane’s engines died when it flew through an ash cloud. Luckily, the pilot was able to keep the plane airborne and restart the engines.

From what I saw, there was a sense of pessimism and doom in regard to the coverage of the ash cloud. This contrasted from the tweets and e-mails of stranded travelers who, despite being frustrated, showed people who were working through a very difficult situation without a sense of doom.

The Telegraph reported that the six day closure has cost the economy in the UK £1.6 billion (roughly $2,457,600,000).Of course, this is probably not the end for Eyjafjallajokull. The Daily Mail reported that the volcano can continue erupting and that the ash cloud could return anytime. Scientists also think that this can even trigger a larger eruption at Katla.

Though the images from the volcano eruption are amazing to look at, it might become an issue when I try to fly home. Before, I was only concerned if British Airways would go on strike again; now I have to keep my eye on a sleeping volcano of doom.

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