Volcanic ash cloud: Where is it now?
The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland is now drifting over Africa as well as Europe, closing airports and causing cancellations of transatlantic flights to the United States.
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While Eyjafjallajokull (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) has never stopped spewing ash since its initial April 14 eruption caused a week-long suspension of air traffic in Europe, the resulting cloud had contained itself over the Atlantic Ocean and flights had returned to near normal until the weekend.
After a weekend of flight cancellations throughout Europe and North Africa, airports reopened Monday in Austria, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland. In Spain, 19 airports were closed over the weekend, and all but five reopened by Tuesday.
But the ash cloud continued to drift over the Iberian peninsula, keeping airports closed in Spain and Portugal on Tuesday and causing flight cancellations throughout Morocco and in parts of Turkey. Delays out of Gatwick Airport in London affected transatlantic flights to the United States, and Saudi Airlines said it had halted flights between the US and Saudi Arabia, Agence France-Presse reported.
European flight monitor Eurocontrol wrote on its website that it expects approximately 29,000 flights within Europe today, which it said is "close to normal for a Tuesday at this time of year." There were 29,155 flights on Monday. “Situation in your area is changing by the minute,” Eurocontrol said on its Twitter page. “Keep in touch with your airport / airline.”
Eurocontrol is tracking multiple ash clouds from the Icelandic volcano, defined by the altitude they inhabit. An ash cloud below 20,000 feet is roughly the same size as Europe. The cloud covers the southern half of Iceland and stretches thousands of miles south over the Atlantic Ocean. At the southern end of the cloud, a thin arm extends east over the Strait of Gibraltar and into Spain.