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Remembering European chaos from Icelandic Volcano

Updated on July 22, 2015

As Spring arrived in the UK, on 21st March 2010, a dormant Icelandic Volcano began to stir. Having laid dormant for 200 years the volcano began to rip apart a field of ice. Lava was spewed way into the air near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in the south of the island.

Iceland rubbed her hands in glee at first. This volcanic rumbling made for a huge upsurge in its toruist trade. Flights were jam packed as would be volcano watchers poured into this small island.

I guess they should have known it was too good to last.

By 15th April 2010 this same volcano was continuing to rumble but had received little press attention. That was set to change.

With a full throttle eruption the volcanic ash cloud gathered force stopping flights to Iceland and necessitating the movement of people living close by.

If only this were the end of the matter.

By Friday 16th April the volcanic ash had risen high above Iceland but was affecting air space around Europe.

The UK closed its air space, initially in Scotland and then across the country due to safety concerns. The news showed deserted airports and air traffic ground to a halt. First reports implied that flights would only be affected for a few hours and as some of the dust cleared the odd flight got through. However, on the whole the UK and many parts of Europe has been flight free for a few days now.

Today is Monday 19th April and chaos has ensued.

Of course, normally the effects of such an event in another country would not affect so many different nationalities. High pressure though meant that the potentially damaging cloud of volcanic ash was sitting with its full weight over the UK, Norway, Spain, Germany and France. Some countries have had limited flights but most none at all.

All of this has meant that:-

  • Airlines have lost millions of pounds.
  • Holidaymakers have been unable to travel abroad by plane or return home.
  • Stranded abroad people have spent vast amounts of money to survive or get home by hell or high water.
  • There has been more flight chaos over the UK and Europe than in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • Concerns over the safety of people on the ground have been raised.

The BBC news reported that veteran actor and comedian John Cleese, who was left stranded in Norway, spent £3000 on a taxi to enable him to complete his journey to the UK.

The ferries from Dover to France have been busier that ever as travellers turned to whatever means of transport they could get. Even some British warships have been mobilised.

Television chat shows, and the like, have been changing their guest lists to accommodate celebrities stranded in the UK who have replaced those unable to appear.

The NO FLY decision was partly Governmental and now many airlines are asking for compensation. Most such companies have lost millions each day of the crisis. With the UK government and many governments abroad struggling to balance the books such a costly exercise must be bad news.

One thing in all of this, that is notable, is that there has been little reporting about the actual volcano eruption itself. Obviously the news has centered on the lack of flights and travel chaos.

Today there have been reports that flights to test the air space for safety have been carried out. It is claimed that the government and aviation authorities overreacted, and that the air space is safe. It is not worth risking one disaster though, is it?

Latest reports have stated that more flights will resume on Tuesday 20th April 2010. European air space has been divided in order to ease traffic flow and only fly in safe zones.

That said though, nothing is certain.

The wind and weather could change or the Icelandic Volcano could blow at full throttle again. All of this just proves how helpless and at the mercy of elements, we are. We may have advanced scientifically in leaps and bounds but we can only do what the elements allow us to.

Flights resume


20th April 2010

Popping to our local post office, in order to send a parcel to the South of England, made me think of the various implications of the Icelandic Volcano eruption. The assistant could not offer guaranteed next day service, due to the transport disruption. Supermarkets and retailers are already assessing the implications to trade and the stock of their shelves. Any shortages will, of course, no doubt be exacerbated by panic buying.

The cost to industry is already staggering. Today the press have reported that fresh volcanic eruptions are causing more chaos. As yet the volcanic ash is not as potentially dangerous as last week, but it could soon be.

In the UK some flights have resumed from Scottish airports but it looks as if airports in London will remain closed.

The knock on effect, of many UK citizens being virtually stranded abroad, looks set to close some schools and affect many services. Employers have been asked to treat sympathetically any workers unable to return to work.

With global financial problems all of this is dire economic news. The export and import trade of many countries will be severely hit.

22nd April 2010

Today it finally seems as if things are getting back to normal. Volcanoes are unpredictable and this means that it is impossible to determine what the future may bring.

For now, travellers are still attempting to return to their home countries, but at least new travellers are being able to fly abroad. It would seem that travel companies and passengers, alike, will be hoping to secure some sort of compensation. Their chances are not certain but either way more financial problems look to be on the horizon.


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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Hi Tony. It has been rather unbelievable and yet worrying. It could have been so much worse

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for an excellent report on this amazing catastrophe. We have even felt the effects here in South Africa where thousands of travellers have been camping out at the airport for days because their homebound flights were cancelled.

      Love and peace


    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I guess it is partly the excitement of the unknown like tornado chasing.

    • loveofnight profile image


      8 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      i find it fascinating to know that there are actually people who volcano watch, who do it for the sport of the thing.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Jay and Hello. So many stories of people struggling abroad. It is really quite worrying

    • jayjay40 profile image


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      My son's girl friend is stranded in vegas, she's running out of money and worrying about her job. The date now for her flight is 28th april. Mother nature is very powerful and there is little we can do about it. Thanks for sharing

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your well written hub, ethel. This is really something to be serious about it. One way, I think it is good that the mighty human race realize they are not all that powerful otherwise they would get more power-mad. If it will last one year, as the last time, I dare not thinking. We definite will be back in the caves.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      It certainly is Billy. It could be scary. Fingers crossed it wont be.

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Ethel thanks for the update - mother nature is a powerful thing! I saw that the last time this erupted -- nearly 200 years ago it spewed ash for nearly a year so this could be a fair while yet.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks to you all. It would seem that we are from from out of the woods yet.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Unbelievable. Just when we think we are in control - Mother Nature reminds us. Great Hub.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for the fine reportage. I knew about it but you filled in the blanks for me nicely.

    • CMHypno profile image


      8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Unfortunately the chaos will take weeks to sort out even if the airlines start flying tomorrow. Apparently 400 tons of fresh flowers had to be destroyed at the weekend in Africa as they couldn't be flown into Europe, so there are many farmers who are being very badly affected around the world. European economies really do not need this at the moment, as they are all trying to climb out of recession

    • Wanderlust profile image


      8 years ago from New York City

      I agree with Princessa, it is unbelievable that we take for granted certain things in our life, like flying. And how fragile we are - one volcano eruption and the half of the world is losing money, not to mention inconvenience for people who have to travel or depend on others who do. A couple of my friends stuck in London and Zurich......

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      It is amazing how dependent we were on flying isn't it?

      We have many friends stranded in different parts of the world unable to get out of France or to come back home. To make things worst we have a small train strike in France and all the cars for rental are taken...

      I hope things go back to normal soon.


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