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Ash may disrupt summer travel

It's been a month now, and Iceland's volcano shows no sign it will stop belching ash across Europe anytime soon. The rolling eruptions threaten more havoc for summer vacation plans.

Although the global disruption of last month's massive eruption has faded, smaller ash plumes snarled air services intermittently over the last week all the way to Turkey -- more than 2,500 miles from the Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano.

Air-control authorities and geologists agree that the continent must be braced indefinitely for rapid shutdowns of air services as computerized projections try to pinpoint where the ash clouds will float next at the whim of shifting winds.

"We do not pretend to be psychics," said Einar Kjartansson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, who often has been asked to guess the volcano's next move since it began spitting lava and ash March 20.

Since then the ash plume has thinned and spread out, shifting shape by the hour, rising into North Atlantic air routes and imposing awkward detours on hundreds of trans-Atlantic flights daily.

Jose Luis Barrera, deputy president of Spain's College of Geologists, said Europe should get ready for ash-covered inconvenience at least through the summer -- and perhaps longer. He noted that the volcano's last eruption ran from 1821 to 1823.

"We're going to have to learn to live with the volcano," Barrera said. "Just as in California, people learn to live with the earthquake that may be waiting for them. ... This is the same."

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  |  May 13, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Airports , holiday travel  
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