Monday, April 19, 2010

Blue Sky and Volcanoes.

Blue skies over us! It is as rare as it is beautiful. The lack of vapour trails overhead is especially nice. We live underneath the major route from the UK to North America. This was a problem for us once when Panam Flight 103 was blown out of the sky and onto neighbouring farms. It happened years before we moved here, but the debris trail fell across our place. One of our neighbours ended up having to get his first passport as he was called to give evidence in Utrecht during the trial. He was comforted by the fact that when he wasn't giving evidence, the beer world class.

Flights from London to Scottish airports fly over us as well. They're too high up for the sound to bother us, but the sky (when it isn't obscured by cloud) is crosshatched with the vapour trails of the jets.

It is worrying that some think that the airline industry is being too cautious. Around here, the general feeling is that you can't be too cautious with safety. If there is volcanic ash in the air, don't fly. Ash turns to glass in the heat of a turbine engine and clogs important things in there. It will blast the windscreen glass to a lovely frosted effect. Nice when you're reglazing a bathroom but a bit rubbish for pilots that want to see to fly a plane full of passengers.Met Office map of the ash on 17 April 2010

The thing that worries me is the length of the eruption. Any Hawaiian will happily tell you that Kilauea's latest eruption began in 1983 and is still going! Kilauea is a different sort of volcano and has the courtesy to be the lava oozing variety rather than the ash spewing sort or the murderous pyroclastic explosion sort. We really cannot predict when a volcano will erupt and once it starts, there is no way to predict when the eruption will finish. It is very inconvenient to travellers stuck away from home. It can be crippling to business but this is a little wake up call from our beautiful blue planet. IT is in charge, not us.

Did you know that Naples is not only the current home of my dear cousin Carey who is stuck in Paris with her two sons because of Iceland's volcanic ash? I predict that she and the guys will be able to get a train from The City of Light to her home. She's resourceful and bright and will figure it out. Naples is also sitting on a big bubble of magma. Steps keep have to be added to the stairs going down to the sea at the port. It isn't that the Mediterranean is sinking, the port is lifting. I liken it to a big pimple, one of those nasty deep underground ones that take forever to come to a head and runs the risk of leaving a scar when it finally blows. Some day soon Vesuvius (in geological terms) it's going to pop. Vesuvius has been the nasty exploding, pyroclastic flow sort of volcano in the past. We have Pompeii as the evidence of what can happen if we remain ignorant or choose to ignore the earth's power. Incidentally, the last time Vesuvius had an eruption was 1944. A young British private in the Green Howards who was to later become my father-in-law was in Italy, saw it happen.

I have just heard that Scottish airports are open for a few hours. I do not envy the person who gets to say who and what goes first and what must wait until next time. While all of that happens, I'm going to walk the dog and then plant some flowers in the garden.


Sarah said...

Very cool photo.

dogbait said...

I knew you lived near Lockerbie and wondered how flight 103 affected you. Now I know.

Xtreme English said...

Lovely, informative post! I especially like the blue sky photo and the map of the ash drift (????).

Anonymous said...

I like your comment about how this ash cloud and everything that it affects shows that WE are not in charge of the planet. I had the same thought and am sort of rooting for Mother Nature to show us that although we are often hurting the planet, we can't always protect ourselves when it can hurt us.
--Cousin Susan