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Volcanic Ash Heading Towards North America 338

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-can-spell-check-that dept.
chocomilko writes "St. John's International Airport, the easternmost airport in Canada, has begun canceling flights due to worries of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano, leaving travelers stranded after the weekend's Juno awards festival. Early reports stated that there was a 30% chance ash would reach the island by early Monday; Air Canada has issued an all-day travel advisory. A thick blanket of fog currently covering the city isn't helping matters, either."
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Volcanic Ash Heading Towards North America

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  • Affects on Europe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Celt (125318) on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:56AM (#31894722) Homepage Journal

    Ireland's airspace as well as Englands, France, Germany, Finland etc all closed at present and has been since before the weekend, lots of people stuck in other countrys unable to get home and are trying any means available to try and get home. US/Canada will really feel it if the same thing happens. ....and people think we're not all connected in the world :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ..., lots of people stuck in other countrys unable to get home and are trying any means available to try and get home.

      Exactly. Heard what John Cleese [brisbanetimes.com.au] did?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ddxexex (1664191)
      Except the US's train system is nowhere as good as Europe's ... so this is going to be worse for the US if it reaches us.
      • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:18AM (#31894914)
        The US train system is excellent if you are coal, or liquid polypropylene, or the like. For humans not so much.
        • by Celt (125318)

          So in short if you can become some sort of superhero and convert yourself to a liquad or rock like state you can get around the US via training very efficiently?

          Good to know :)

        • Re:Affects on Europe (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday April 19, 2010 @10:48AM (#31896138) Homepage

          It's gotten significantly better over the last 5-6 years. George W Bush actually did something quite useful for Amtrak, by changing the rules to allow Amtrak to sue CSX, Norfolk Southern, etc when they violated their contracts with Amtrak (which of course they used to do regularly because there was no penalty for doing so). Once that rule changed, most trains began to run on schedule or close to it.

          And for those who've never done it, it's a fairly pleasant way to travel. I'd recommend spending the extra on a sleeper room if you're going for 24+ hours, but the traveling part is thoroughly pleasant, basically lounging around, chatting with folks you meet, enjoying the view, stuff like that.

        • Re:Affects on Europe (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Kirijini (214824) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [inijirik]> on Monday April 19, 2010 @11:13AM (#31896492)

          The US train system is excellent if you are coal...

          Not so much. I know what you mean - coal plants rely on the railroad system for the delivery of coal, and as a natural consequence, the railroad system is tailored for delivering coal. But, nevertheless, the coal plant owners are not happy with the US railroad system, and it is far from "excellent" to them.

          Coal plants are completely hostage to whomever owns the railroad that goes up to their plant. For some plants, the last 10 miles or so is owned by a different railroad company than the one that provides most of the shipping, and the owner of that "last mile" has absolutely no competition in delivering coal to that one plant. And naturally, they charge an enormous premium, as compared to plants that receive their coal from other railways or other delivery methods (barge, or even trucking).

          The US train system is like any other network infrastructure, including the internet - a robust "last mile" is just as important as a robust "backbone." And competition at each segment is a good thing, but rare because such capital-heavy infrastructure is extremely prone to consolidation, monopolies, and rent-seeking - all of which lead to stagnation, and all of which need to be regulated for the public (and economic!) good. In some ways, this might be one explanation as to why the airline industry is doing better than passenger trains - they rely on a completely different (almost "peer to peer," as in, airport to airport) infrastructure that allows competition; and despite the heavy capital investment required, its much harder to exclusively own part of the network and lock out competition.

          This is all based on some readings I did in college on the American energy infrastructure. I don't still have those books, so I don't guarantee the accuracy of everything said here, but, consider this article [findarticles.com] a citation.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            From Nor Cal to So Cal by train takes somewhere between 20-24 hours (Sacramento to Grand Central LA). Most of that is by BUS. It costs more than a ticket on Southwest Airlines from the nearest Airport.

            The last mile is not the problem. The problem is the backbone is slow, has too many slow points, stops every 20 miles to pick up new people.

            So, why would anyone take a train(unless they have a fear of flying)?

            To make the train make sense, they'd have to start letting people drive their cars onto the train, and

    • You meant "Effects"..way to go

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Weezul (52464)

      You realize the U.S. possesses three of the world's nine known supervolcanos [tripod.com] right? In particular, Yellowstone park will eventually cover half the U.S. in three feet of ash and debris. Have a nice day. :)

  • by MeNotU (1362683) on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:56AM (#31894726)
    That just sucks ash... eh?
  • SIGH (Score:2, Funny)

    by vikingpower (768921)
    Finally. All Canucks & Americans who laughed at us Europeans now get to experience how nice it is: no hassle, quiet skies, no contrails, stay-at-home and work -- or be stranded in interesting cities at your bosses' expenses !
    • Who laughed? (Score:2, Informative)

      I didn't laugh. I was actually a little envious because you Europeans can get on a train and get home - if home is on the continent.

      If we in the US have this problem, it's means renting a car to get home and all the hassles with dealing with that - our passenger rail is a complete joke outside of the North East corridor.

      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:25AM (#31894978) Journal

        We have passenger rail outside the northeast. You just rent a car, drive 90 miles to the depot, arrive near your destination, rent another car to drive 90 miles to your home. What could be easier? ;)

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          We have passenger rail outside the northeast. You just rent a car, drive 90 miles to the depot, arrive near your destination, rent another car to drive 90 miles to your home. What could be easier? ;)

          You forgot the one hour plus lay overs like in Atlanta and other parts while the freight trains roll past and you wait for a connecting train.

          I guess it beats walking.

          • by DarkOx (621550)

            Or you know you could just get a cheap one way car rental from any of our many nation wide chains and use our highways which btw are some of the best in the world. You could leave when you want stop and rest when you like, stop any place that looks interesting etc etc. Download a book on tape to your MP3 player and hit the pavement man. When it comes to long distance interstate travel and you have time to do anything other than fly the car on a US highway beats any train, bus, subway, etc hands down!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pharmboy (216950)

            You forgot the one hour plus lay overs like in Atlanta and other parts while the freight trains roll past and you wait for a connecting train.

            But thanks to all the delays in arrivals and departures, sometimes you only have a 3 minute layover to get from concourse A to concourse D, whereupon you can wait 45 minutes on the plane waiting to take off, enjoying the aromatic plane fumes. This is one reason that I now drive to Atlanta (5 hours) instead of fly, that and the TSA delays and hassles. Actually, I dri

      • You'd think so, and so did a lot of people from the north of Europe stranded in the south (and the other way around). There's an excellent fast rail link between the north and south, but it passes through France and of course there is a strike on. You might also think this would be a good opportunity to temporarily lift the strike and start getting people home... but you'd be wrong.
    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      No laughing here, just a bunch of "that really sucks" type comments. We have been seeing a number of stories about Americans stuck in Europe and how the locals have been extremely welcoming and helping while they hang out, in limbo.

      I'm in the midwest, though. We're use to dust clouds from the farmers prepping their fields. My car stays clean for about 2 hours after I wash it before it has a thin lair of dust covering it. I was smart this time and bought a dust colored vehicle.
    • Re:SIGH (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sizzzzlerz (714878) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:21AM (#31894946)

      I think we here in the US have had that experience not too long ago. Not to be overly grim here, but the week after 9/11, there were no planes flying in the skies above the US. Not hearing the planes landing and taking off at a near-by major airport nor seeing them high in the sky flying into other airports in the region was pretty odd.

      • Re:SIGH (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:45AM (#31895178) Journal

        What is so odd to me is that many Europeans thought that Americans were laughing at them because the volcano interupted their air travel. I don't know anyone who thought that was funny at all. Do Europeans really think that we are that petty?

        • Re:SIGH (Score:4, Interesting)

          by knarf (34928) on Monday April 19, 2010 @10:13AM (#31895594) Homepage

          What made you think that we here in the Olde Worlde thought you would be laughing about our ashy situation? I have not heard anything even remotely resembling such an accusation. Nothing in the media, nothing from 'real people', zilch, nada, niente, nichts...

          • Re:SIGH (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @11:10AM (#31896438)
            You know, this thread starting with:

            Finally. All Canucks & Americans who laughed at us Europeans now get to experience how nice it is: no hassle, quiet skies, no contrails, stay-at-home and work -- or be stranded in interesting cities at your bosses' expenses !

            Maybe that's related, somehow?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      Finally. All Canucks & Americans who laughed at us Europeans now get to experience how nice it is: no hassle, quiet skies, no contrails, stay-at-home and work -- or be stranded in interesting cities at your bosses' expenses !

      We remember that all too well from nine and a half years ago. - 2001/09/11

    • by JamesP (688957)

      Or maybe they will do their homework and instead of having a knee-jerk reaction actually measure the ash density and determine if it's dangerous or not

      I'm guessing the dangerous area is about 1/10 of what the British VAAG is saying

      • Re:SIGH (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tweezer (83980) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:37AM (#31895096)

        All aircraft engine manufacturers call for zero ash. I'm guessing that they figured that was the easiest thing to do as opposed to doing actual testing. Since it's never been tested properly, I wouldn't blame the governments for following the written specifications. I also doubt that any engine company is going to be willing to take on the lilability of publishing updated specifications allowing some ash.

        • by JamesP (688957)

          What's interesting is that airliners face similar conditions in the Middle East, that is, very fine SiO2 particles. And they go there every day and cope with it.

          And the requirement for zero ash is fine, what's not fine is putting a blanket over all Europe saying 'there may be ash there'

      • Re:SIGH (Score:5, Insightful)

        by varcher (156670) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:53AM (#31895282)

        determine if it's dangerous or not

        Actually, the danger isn't that planes will fall out of the sky or somesuch because they've encountered some ash. The problem comes from the glass/ash mixture having a rather big effect on engines and airframes' wear-and-tear. Flying thru the ash plume probably causes 10 or more times the normal wear on engines. However, the maintenance schedules are rather inflexible on planes.

        Net result? The flights won't be dangerous now. They'll be in a couple weeks/months, when you have 90% of your airplane fleet that has engine problems early, the civil aviation inspectors can't inspect them all, and the average european company becomes no more reliable than the lowliest north-african charter plane company.

        Sure, they could replace all those engines earlier. If they can find some outside of the counterfeit market at reasonable prices, that is.

        (short: Resuming flights before we can figure out the length of the emergency is short-term good, long-term bad)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rufey (683902)

          Flying through dense enough ash clouds can cause significant problems. British Airways flight 9 from London to New Zealand is just one example.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_Flight_9 [wikipedia.org]

          And it can affect more than just the engines. In the above cited incident, the windscreen was sandblasted to the point that it was nearly impossible to see out through it.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I don't think anybody's laughing, except the slashdot moderators.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:58AM (#31894740)
    It's Eyjafjallajökull. I barely knew which volcano you were talking about.
  • by Xemu (50595) on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:59AM (#31894754) Homepage

    This was overheard in London:

    The English Banker to the Icelandic representative for Kaupthing Bank:

    We said we wanted CASH... not ash!

  • A word of advice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lammy (1557325) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:00AM (#31894762)
    If this situation unfolds for Canada / North America as it has done for Europe, they may wish to revise their means of communicating cancellations to passengers. The 'marker pen on a whiteboard' technique may be suitable for a handful of flights at a small regional airport but doesn't scale very well once an entire continent's airspace has been closed. Also, the hand-drawn "Sorry" with a sad face next to each flight number will start to take on a somewhat patronising tone.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:04AM (#31894786)

    How 'bout you?

    Bet you're feeling real good about driving that Prius designed to be oh-so-gentle on Mother Gaia, ain'tcha?

    Meanwhile, the belch from one unpronounceable volcano wipes out the cumulative effort from all of mankind over the past hundred years to purify the water and soil, and dwarfs all of our species' feeble, amateurish efforts to pollute them in the first place.

    Gimme a rainforest, a chainsaw, and a case of Red Bull. It's Payback Time!

    • by Marcika (1003625) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:11AM (#31894850)

      How 'bout you?

      Bet you're feeling real good about driving that Prius designed to be oh-so-gentle on Mother Gaia, ain'tcha?

      Meanwhile, the belch from one unpronounceable volcano wipes out the cumulative effort from all of mankind over the past hundred years to purify the water and soil, and dwarfs all of our species' feeble, amateurish efforts to pollute them in the first place.

      Gimme a rainforest, a chainsaw, and a case of Red Bull. It's Payback Time!

      Bollocks. You overestimate the volcano. The cancelled planes would have belched out 14 times [informatio...utiful.net] more CO2 and SO2 than one pesky little volcano. Nature? Feeble, I say, bah!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Meanwhile, the belch from one unpronounceable volcano wipes out the cumulative effort from all of mankind over the past hundred years to purify the water and soil

      In the first place, it was around 1970 before anybody seemed to care about the environment. Perhaps other countries started to care before then, but not long before then. Nixon signed the first US environmental legislation in 1970, forty years ago. The previous 150 years saw mankind spew more pollution than had been spewed in the previous history o

      • I was reading a recent JAMA in the doctor's waiting room today. It included a copy of an article published in JAMA 100 years ago. The article pertained to the health impacts of water pollution, particularly from industrial dumping. So, scientists cared about the environment, probably long before anybody else.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:48AM (#31895208)

      First they run the country down and go bankrupt, then they set the place on fire... I'm wondering if this is somekind of insurance fraud?

    • mmm hot thanks!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's no evidence in that article other than historical patterns. As far as I've been able to determine from numerous sources, there is no sign of increased earthquake activity or inflation of the mountain at Katla yet (due to injection of magma at depth beneath it), and those processes will precede any significant eruption there just as it did at Eyjafjallajokull. It will not be a surprise. There's an extensive seismometer, GPS, and tiltmeter network around both these mountains (Eyjafjallajokull and

  • driving into st. johns from mainland newfoundland (st. johns is on a peninsula) you experience, in the span of about 15 minutes time: downpour of hard rain, then blissful sunshine, then deep fog, then heavy snow, then overcast clouds

    the deeper observation is that weather is so fickle in the north atlantic latitudes, that the wind can and will shift back and forth from canada/ europe plenty of times throughout the weeks that this volcanoe blows

    the downside is that you never know what will be canceled when or

  • Since when is the Maple Leaf the symbol of North America? Does it have something to do with the value of the dollar? The country with the highest valued dollar has its flag tagged as North American symbol?

    Or is it simply that the title of the story should have been "Volcanic Ash Heading Towards New Foundland, Canada"?
    • by rotide (1015173) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:41AM (#31895130)
      Just an FYI, North America is _not_ only the United States nor does it only mean Canada, Mexico, etc. Whatever you think the title of the story should have been, it appears there is a threat of ash to North America and thus using any North American flag, especially the flag of the first country to potentially be disrupted, seems appropriate.
    • And while you're at it, stop using "America" to refer to only one country within America!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      There is a graphic of a tire there as well, and I am offended.

      Since when does North America have a monopoly on tires? They don't. I was born in rural Angola, Africa and we even had tires there. When I was in Japan I saw tires. And in Iraq. And France and Italy and Belgium and Brasil and New Zealand. So how then can anyone place a graphic of a tire next to a story with "North America" in the title, as if tires are solely possessed by North America?

      This is an obvious infringement of my rights.

    • Canada - leading the world in being just north of the USA.

    • Since when is the Maple Leaf the symbol of North America? Does it have something to do with the value of the dollar? The country with the highest valued dollar has its flag tagged as North American symbol? Or is it simply that the title of the story should have been "Volcanic Ash Heading Towards New Foundland, Canada"?

      Are you completely unaware of how interconnected our two countries are? If the ash cloud is heading towards North America, it would have the potential of disrupting more than just flights to Europe. Air freight could be affected. If the cloud were to spread over to Alaska, say goodbye to Fedex packages from Asia which all come in from Anchorage, Alaska. Sure, they could eventually redirect through Hawaii and into Sea Tac but that could take some time.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:33AM (#31895060) Homepage
    A volcano, in ICELAND? Tell me another one. Everybody knows that volcanoes are only in warm places like Hawaii.
  • Hmmm, nope. The jet stream goes west to east in the northern hemisphere.
  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:35AM (#31895082)
    A few more strong eruptions like this in different regions around the world, and there'll be enough ash in the sky to knock the temperature down a little bit. Global Warming is solved!
  • by skidisk (994551) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:48AM (#31895214)
    The first sentence: "Fears receded Monday that the fallout from Iceland’s volcanic eruption would disrupt flights within North America."
  • by DieByWire (744043) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:49AM (#31895230)
    Here's an interesting animation of the dispersal from Denmarks's weather service: island_vulcano6000.gif [www.dmi.dk]
  • I've just got home (Monday 14:00 GMT) having left a conference (the international liver forum) in Vienna on Saturday 15:00 GMT. A train to Munich, folllowed by a overnight train to amsterdam, Ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle (England), Train from Newcastle to Glasgow (Scotland). 7,500 people at the conference and major difficulties for those from the states (about 700) trying to get home - some bussed south to Rome, which subsequently also closed. If this hits the US significantly expect major disruption,
  • I always thought the wind (on a global scale) moves from the West to the East.

    Wouldn't the ash from an Icelandic volcano reach Alaska long before St. John, and then only after going halfway around the planet over Northern Europe and Russia?
  • Pronunciation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Monday April 19, 2010 @10:35AM (#31895920)

    Personally, I'm having fun with the pronunciation [upenn.edu]. Especially since every Icelander seems to have their own way of saying it. I'm going with eya-love-a-jock-itch.

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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