Sunday 25 February 2018

Fine weather keeps plume over Ireland

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

FINE weather is keeping the volcanic ash plume hovering over Ireland and forcing authorities to ground aircraft, Met Eireann said last night.

And not until the wind and rain returns at the end of the week will there be a return to normal air travel arrangements.

Flight restrictions are unlikely to be lifted before the weekend because a band of high pressure is keeping the volcanic ash plume hovering over Irish airspace, but a "big change" in conditions forecast for Friday should see the ash pushed north towards Greenland, allowing aircraft to resume flying. But the Government's Taskforce on Emergency Planning said that while restrictions could be lifted, it would be "foolish" to say the crisis would then be over.

Activity at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland would dictate if flights could operate to normal schedules and for how long.

Taskforce chair Maurice Mullen from the Department of Transport said there was an increase in activity but the volcano was generating less ash than in previous days.

But not until the weather changed on Friday could restrictions be lifted.

"Met Eireann forecasts remain unchanged for the next few days. The evidence indicates changes by the weekend which should allow some flight restrictions to be lifted. The key to it is if weather patterns change," he said.

It would be foolish to predict when normal flight operations would resume, he added. "In all the advice we've said how difficult it is to predict. We're trying to give a framework to plan what's likely to happen. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) wants to take every opportunity to move if possible."

Irish Independent

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