April 15th, 2010

Shocked, Scared

Norway covered by volcanic cloud

A volcano eruption on Iceland has unleashed an enormous cloud of fine ash patricles, and the wind has carried the cloud to Norway. Looking up, I can only see a fine pattern of white clouds, no different from what I might expect on a beautiful spring day such as this. But instead of just water vapor, the clouds today are made of ash, and planes that try to fly may find their engines destroyed. All air traffic in Norway has been stopped, including ambulance helicopters.

The main body of the ash cloud is expected to hit Norway, but all of northern and western Europe down into northern France is affected. Nobody knows how long the eruption will last. It could be another day, or a generation.

So far, the ash is too rarified to represent a health threat at ground level, whether for breathing the air or drinking the water. However, the eruption has only recently begun, and it is not uncommon for one volcano to wake up others. Even the world's best country has limited options when the continents start shrugging.
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