UK no-fly zone

Philip Miller Tate Philmt59 at
Sat Apr 17 05:52:20 CDT 2010

Hi, fellow Taconians

It's rather strange to be living in an area south-west of London,  
less than 30 minutes' drive from Heathrow airport, without the  
constant sounds of aircraft flying overhead. It would be hard to put  
your finger on what is different if it weren't for the constant  
headline news of the volcanic ash coming over from the Icelandic  
volcano. It's somewhat reassuring, though, to see nature doing an  
infinitely better job of polluting our air than we can with aircraft.

Of course, as an alternative to our recent diet of general election  
politics, the media are loving it. There was an amusing exchange on  
the TV news the night before last, which I shall paraphrase for the  
sake of brevity:

Announcer: Well, the no-fly regulations will persist until at least  
7.00 am tomorrow, although some experts are suggesting that, in fact,  
they may continue for as long as another 48 hours. We have a senior  
meteorologist on the line...

M: Good evening.

A: Good evening. What are the latest forecasts?

M: Well, as you know, this situation is almost unprecedented, so it  
is difficult to forecast with any certainty, but...

A: Another 48 hours?

M: Ummm...

A: Three days?

M: Well...

A: More?

M: Like I said, the situation is difficult to predict, but the  
prevailing winds over Northern Europe are not expected to change for  
the foreseeable future. The problem could persist for five days or  
more... Maybe a week.

A: Well, thank you. There you have it - maybe as long as a week.  
[Five minute studio discussion on economic effects, damage to airline  
revenue, stranded passengers etc.] We are now going live to Iceland  
to discuss the eruptions with a leading scientist.

S: Good evening.

A: Good evening. A senior meteorologist has suggested the problem  
could persist for almost a week. What are the signs over there?

S: Well, this situation is almost unprecedented, but the current  
evidence is that the eruptions are getting stronger, not weaker, and  
there is no shortage of ash that could be spewed out - this process  
could continue for weeks...

A: For weeks? Or even months?

S: It's perfectly possible.

A: Well, thank you. [Another five minute studio discussion on  
economic effects, damage to airline revenue, stranded passengers  
etc.] We are fortunate to be joined in the studio by Professor Blah,  
a leading expert volcanologist who has specialized in studying  
Icelandic volcanoes, now retired. Good evening, Professor.

V: Good evening.

A: We understand that the current situation is almost unprecedented...

V: Well, not entirely without precedent, but certainly rare. The last  
time there was a major incidence of Icelandic volcanic ash emission  
being blown across Northern Europe was in 1821.

A: Do we know how long it lasted?

V: Yes. Until 1823.

[You could almost hear the sound of British Airways executives  
rushing to telephone their stockbrokers and unload their shares.]

Phil M1GWZ

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