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Monday, May 23, 2011

Volcanic ash 'blowing towards Britain'

A plume of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland is being blown south towards Britain and could reach the airspace over mainland Europe later in the week, meteorological experts said on Monday (23-May-2011).

The latest warning is based on five-day weather forecasts but experts said the wind patterns were changeable and could yet sweep the cloud away from the UK.

The broader impact of the eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano, which began on Saturday, remained unclear. It came slightly more than a year after eruptions of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano caused chaos as aviation regulators closed roughly 80% of European airspace during the Easter holiday.

Eurocontrol, an umbrella organization for air-traffic control across Europe, said Sunday that it expected "no impact…on European airspace" from the eruption through Monday. In a notice to aviation officials on Eurocontrol's website, the agency said the ash cloud could reach northern Scotland by Tuesday.

Any decisions for other countries on flying restrictions will depend on wind direction and whether aviation authorities think the ash is a danger to engines.

So far Iceland, particularly the towns and villages to the south and east of the Grimsvotn volcano, has suffered most. The volcano lies under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, the largest glacier in Europe.

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