Forecasting the volcanic ash plume of Iceland's volcano

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on April 19, 2010

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The eruption of Iceland's volcano with the unpronounceable name, Eyjafjallajökull, has virtually ceased over the past few hours, with ash only reaching up to 6,000 feet (1800 meters), according to the latest advisory from the UK Met Office. Lightning images from UK Met Office show no new lightning strikes from the volcano's plume since midnight local time today. The relatively small amount of ash present at low altitudes will probably not be able to make it all the way to mainland Europe before falling to the surface and dissipating, since 6,000 feet is below the altitude that the strong winds of jet stream blow. Wednesday through Sunday, the volcano emitted a towering cloud of volcanic ash 6 - 11 km (20,000 - 36,000') high in the air from its 1666 meter (5500') high peak. The jet stream blows strongly at that altitude range, which allowed for efficient transport of the ash cloud to mainland Europe.


Figure 1. Lightning lights up the night sky in this photo of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption taken on April 16, 2010. Ash particles colliding together separate electric charge, much as ice particles in a thunderstorm do, leading to spectacular lightning displays. Image credit: Marco, Fulle, Stromboli Online.

Forecasts of the movement of the ash cloud are made using trajectory models, which have a number of uncertainties to consider. Firstly, the amount of ash ejected by the volcano is highly uncertain, since our measurements of this quantity are limited. Secondly, the models must compute how high the ash cloud will rise (plume rise), based on the best available measurements of atmospheric stability. Since upper air-observations are taken just twice daily by a very coarse network of balloon soundings, our knowledge of the stability is rather crude. Finally, the trajectory models use forecast winds from a global model such as the GFS model to predict where the plume may go. The forecast winds from this model do not capture much of the complicated structure of the wind field over Europe, leading to a rather fuzzy approximation of where the ash will go. Nevertheless, these models have in general done a respectable job forecasting where the ash from Eyjafjallajökull will go over the past few days.


Figure 2. Cross section of the atmosphere over time over Paliseau, France, on April 16, 2010, as observed using ground-based lidar. Image taken using a 532nm cross polarization NFOV telescope. Note how the ash layer sinks closer to the ground as time progresses, as gravity makes the ash sink to the ground. There may also be some atmospheric subsidence occurring (downward moving air due to large-scale atmospheric processes.) Image credit: Ray Hoff, World Meteorological Organization's Global Atmosphere Watch's Aerosol Lidar Network (GALION).

For the next few days, these models continue to indicate that northwest winds at the jet stream level will continue to affect Iceland. As a result, Spain, Portugal, and Greece will offer the best locations to fly from. The northwesterly winds are expected to continue for the remainder of the week, thanks to an upper-level trough of low pressure over northern Europe. On Saturday April 24, the ECMWF model predicts that the trough will slide eastwards, and a ridge of high pressure will build over Europe. This will bring upper-level winds out of the southwest to Iceland, directing any volcanic ash northwards over the North Pole. Thus for the remainder of this week, expect continued ash clouds over much of Europe if the volcano resumes significant eruptions. But by next Sunday, the ash over Europe should decline considerably. For the latest one-day forecasts of where the ash cloud is expected to go, consult the UKMET Office. The Rhenish Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Cologne also has some excellent simulations from an atmospheric dispersion model of Eyjafjallajökull's eruption plume. The Norwegian Institute for Air Research runs a computer trajectory model called FLEXPART that has 1-day forecasts showing a cross section of the atmosphere. NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) lets you perform your own model run using their HYSPLIT model, going out up to 48 hours, using the GFS model as input.


Figure 3. NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the eruption at 1:20 UTC on April 17, 2010. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Links
An excellent source of links of information on the eruption is available at http://islande2010.mbnet.fr/2010/04/eyjafjallajok ul-links-liens-a-propos-de-leyjafjallajokul/. My post on Thursday discusses the likely non-impact of this eruption on Earth's climate. Finally, we need to be keeping an eye on earthquake activity at the dangerous Katla volcano next to Eyjafjallajökull. If that volcano blows, it could mean dwarf the headaches caused by Eyjafjallajökull.

Jeff Masters

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Hurricane Felix


AAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
Wilma was still cat 5 at Cozumel??? Why'd I think cat4?


It was a Cat 4 at landfall.

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Quoting Bordonaro:

Ok, where did you get that picture? Tell me, tell me, tell me, I am "fiending" over here!!


LOL Sorry Bord. Went and got something to eat. Didn't mean to leave you hanging. A guy in Iceland got them from the cam and posted them here. And now the cams are back opened for us. So much for an early night. ;>)
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Wilma was still cat 5 at Cozumel??? Why'd I think cat4?


No she wasn't a Cat 5 at Cozumel.

Quoting Stormchaser2007:


They didnt make landfall as Cat 5's though...


I thought Gilbert did....but yeah the others no.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
From Wiki:



This picture always makes me laugh...
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting presslord:


I simply do not have the words to express how much I enjoyed this...


.."U betcha"..

Well..its kinda a trend if ya tink bout it a tad..


..just saying.
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1924 Cuba Hurricane
1928 Okeechobee Hurricane
1932 Bahamas Hurricane
1935 Labor Day Hurricane
1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane.
Hurricane Janet
Hurricane Beulah
Hurricane Camille
Hurricane Edith
Hurricane Anita
Hurricane David
Hurricane Gilbert
Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Mitch
Hurricane Dean
Hurricane Felix

All storms that made landfall as a Category 5.
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Wilma was still cat 5 at Cozumel??? Why'd I think cat4?
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Quoting Levi32:


And those too.


They didnt make landfall as Cat 5's though...
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Here is a link to the Wiki article on ATL CAT 5 Hurricanes:
Link
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Its Impact that counts,not Cat Size Number..always
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KATRINA PART 2 PHOTO INDEX COVERAGE AREAS
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Three known US cat 5 landfalls were '35 Keys hurricane, Camille '69, and Andrew '92.... right?

That's a return rate of about 28 years.

Can anybody else identify other storms with landfall locations in the ATL basin that made landfall as cat 5? [For some reason I'm thinking Janet that hit Belize / Mexico.]


Two very recent ones.

Category 5 Hurricane Dean, Costa Maya, Mexico.
Category 5 Hurricane Felix in Nicaragua

Both 2007
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Allen, Gilbert, Mitch, Wilma off the top of my head.


And those too.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting BahaHurican:
Three known US cat 5 landfalls were '35 Keys hurricane, Camille '69, and Andrew '92.... right?

That's a return rate of about 28 years.

Can anybody else identify other storms with landfall locations in the ATL basin that made landfall as cat 5? [For some reason I'm thinking Janet that hit Belize / Mexico.]


Off the top of my head....

Of course 2007 Dean in Mexico and Felix in Nicaragua.

Anita - 1977 - Mexico

David - 1979, Dominican Republic

I'll keep thinking.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Name the Hurricane Impact Zone that takes 3 Hours to drive thru at 60 mph?

150 Pernts
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Three known US cat 5 landfalls were '35 Keys hurricane, Camille '69, and Andrew '92.... right?

That's a return rate of about 28 years.

Can anybody else identify other storms with landfall locations in the ATL basin that made landfall as cat 5? [For some reason I'm thinking Janet that hit Belize / Mexico.]

Allen, Gilbert, Mitch, Wilma off the top of my head.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Three known US cat 5 landfalls were '35 Keys hurricane, Camille '69, and Andrew '92.... right?

That's a return rate of about 28 years.

Can anybody else identify other storms with landfall locations in the ATL basin that made landfall as cat 5? [For some reason I'm thinking Janet that hit Belize / Mexico.]
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Following news on the Iceland Volcano, ran across this from "Google News

SarahPalinU5A


1. The liberal media wants us to believe a volcano in Iceland is disrupting air travel. Everyone knows Iceland is too cold for volcanoes. 43 minutes ago via web


I simply do not have the words to express how much I enjoyed this...
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Best bet in a cat 5 shelter wise is

- more than 35 ft above sea level (or higher, depending on the actual geography)

- steel-reinforced concrete construction with hurricane stress truss tiedowns and minimal windows

- inner "safe room" area with mimimal direct wind impact.

Actually, in FL and along much of the GOM I'd assume the best choices to fit these criteria would be schools. However, if I take our own school-building practices here as an example of what schools might actually be like, I can see where my assumption might not automatically be a correct one.

Cat 5 @ landfall is the one time when u can be sure wind damage will be equally as bad as surge damage.
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Quoting CycloneOz:


I'm not getting into a ***ing contest with you, but needless to say, I've been in my fair share of "dangerous waters," also. (i.e. Pensacola, FL...offshore oil rig / supply ship duties...etc)

If you're challenging me to an IQ test, I would love to! :)

But if what you really mean is "common sense," my only defense is that I know what I'm getting myself into and stay tuned.
"my only defense is that I know what I'm getting myself into".... I think General Custer said something like that too. Hope your reasons for wanting to do something like this are not for fame, glory or adrenalin rush. Cause the results of a storm speak volumes far and wide long after the storm has passed. No single live video will capture all the forces of a storm.
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Following news on the Iceland Volcano, ran across this from "Google News', from Sarah Palin

SarahPalinU5A


1. The liberal media wants us to believe a volcano in Iceland is disrupting air travel. Everyone knows Iceland is too cold for volcanoes. 43 minutes ago via web
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Quoting NRAamy:



"I am El Nino!!! I can not die!!!!"
Evening everybody.

U guys realize the "El Nino" is supposed to be the Christ child, and you know what happened to Him.... sure he died.... but a few days later he was back.....

"I'll be back...."
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Quoting CycloneOz:
One of my BIG-TIME survival strategies I have developed with a Cat 5 hurricane landfall looming is to drive around the affected area and look at all the official hurricane shelters.

I would choose one that met at least some of the following conditions:

1) Closest to the ocean
2) Poorest / weakest construction
3) Most people

So even from here, I would be able to run the webcam (as long as cell service exists) and still perhaps capture the drama of what these monster storms do to communities.

One of my favorite research topics was this one: How many hurricane shelters have been destroyed during a landfalling hurricane.

To date, I cannot find a single American shelter that was destroyed.



We had several violated during Francis and Jeanne.. they were public schools and they had to move the people to a different wing during the storms. I don't think many structures are actually geared for a full bore cat five.. I saw what happened in Andrew and was shocked and awed. With that as my benchmark, I have concluded that there simply aren't many structures in Martin County Florida that would survive intact... and not only do I not live in one, but I am pretty sure I don't have access to one either. A shelter may be a better bet, but it's not a guarantee.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Oz...If you're in Pensacola, check out this guy's house.

thats a hurricane house i like the breaker walls in the front there some nice windows too i stay there
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
Quoting presslord:



as long as you're not challenging me to a 'bravery' contest...


No need, right?
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Quoting CycloneOz:


I'm not getting into a ***ing contest with you, but needless to say, I've been in my fair share of "dangerous waters," also. (i.e. Pensacola, FL...offshore oil rig / supply ship duties...etc)

If you're challenging me to an IQ test, I would love to! :)

But if what you really mean is "common sense," my only defense is that I know what I'm getting myself into and stay tuned.



as long as you're not challenging me to a 'bravery' contest...
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Oz...If you're in Pensacola, check out this guy's house.



I know...it's the total bomb! During Ivan...it only sprang a couple of leaks around the window.

I was planning on doing a video about "preparing for hurricane intercepts," but I've never produced it. However, I did do many opening takes in front of this house at Pensacola Beach in February 2009.
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295. xcool




MSLP yayyy
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15670
Quoting presslord:
dude....I've been offshore on 30 feet of fiberglass in worse conditions than you can dream of...courage isn't the issue here...IQ is...


I'm not getting into a ***ing contest with you, but needless to say, I've been in my fair share of "dangerous waters," also. (i.e. Pensacola, FL...offshore oil rig / supply ship duties...etc)

If you're challenging me to an IQ test, I would love to! :)

But if what you really mean is "common sense," my only defense is that I know what I'm getting myself into and stay tuned.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Oz...If you're in Pensacola, check out this guy's house.



Lub da Glass tile..used to do that with my Dad
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Katrina's Storm Surge
A Weather Underground 16 part series about Hurricane Katrina, by Margie Kieper.




Hurricane Katrina of 2005 produced the highest storm surge ever recorded on the U.S. coast--an astonishing 27.8 feet at Pass Christian, Mississippi. This bested the previous U.S. record of 22.8 feet, which also occurred at Pass Christian, during 1969's Hurricane Camille. According to the NHC Katrina final report (PDF File), Hurricane Katrina brought a surge of 24 - 28 feet to a 20-mile stretch of Mississippi coast. Fully 90 miles of coast from eastern Louisiana to Alabama received a storm surge characteristic of a Category 3 hurricane. The colossal damage that resulted has been documented by blogger Margie Kieper during a series of blog posts that ran in the summer of 2006. The contents are reproduced here, and consist of an introduction explaining why the surge was so large, and 16 parts exploring the damage done to each stretch of the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
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Oz...If you're in Pensacola, check out this guy's house.

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Quoting Bordonaro:


Awesome damage most likely done by the 20' storm surge.


er..the Surge there at the West End of the Hwy 90 Bridge in Waveland was 30 feet.

..just saying.
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Link

got the iceland cams to work with this link got vala up you can see lava and lightening go to full screen look to the mid screen far right
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
dude....I've been offshore on 30 feet of fiberglass in worse conditions than you can dream of...courage isn't the issue here...IQ is...
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Quoting CycloneOz:


A STEEL REINFORCED CONCRETE STRUCTURE - ala Katrina






Awesome damage most likely done by the 20' storm surge.
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Quoting presslord:



What doesn't make sense? If that's your only option...then you're out of options...somebody's gonna be collecting on your life insurance...


Bravely spoken...
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Not every building used as a hurricane shelter will survive a CAT 5 storm. You would need to be either in a concrete parking garage or in a steel reinforced concrete structure of some type.
Following Katrina many residents parked cars in elavated parking garages only to find that the cars had all been pushed by the wind into bunches creating lots of damage. Be aware, the wind really compresses through a parking garage
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Quoting chucky7777:
I am EL-NINO!!! ALL TROPICAL STORMS BOW BEFORE ME!!!lol i love that Chris Farley skit....


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Quoting CycloneOz:


That doesn't even make sense! What?



What doesn't make sense? If that's your only option...then you're out of options...somebody's gonna be collecting on your life insurance...
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Quoting Bordonaro:


I don't have Firefox, but I didn't even know they had a translator for Icelandic. It is a very complex language.
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Jökull means glacier.

The vulcano's name is Eyjafjalla, and it is under a glacier ;-)
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Not every building used as a hurricane shelter will survive a CAT 5 storm. You would need to be either in a concrete parking garage or in a steel reinforced concrete structure of some type.


A STEEL REINFORCED CONCRETE STRUCTURE - ala Katrina




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LOL...
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Looks like the Southeast and Florida are gonna get pounded with severe weather next Sunday/Monday followed by a sharp cool down the following few days(for Orlando to go from the upper 80's to the low-mid 70's is quite impressive).

In the meantime, Wednesday through Fri/Sat should be warm but with low humidity in the wake of a front that'll quickly come through Tues night/Wed morning. That front will only be a dewpoint depressor(maximum temps will actually be slightly warmer behind the front).
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Quoting presslord:


Dude...if you get to that degree of desperation...you're already dead...


That doesn't even make sense! What?
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Quoting Grothar:



This one is still working pretty good. By the way, your Icelandic is pretty good.

Link
Funny! I am using the Firefox translator =o).

A million thank you's!!! The 'Eyjafjallajkull fr Valahnk" web-cam is aglow with the red hot magma at the upper-right hand corner of the screen!!
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Quoting CycloneOz:


It is without a doubt the very worst of the survival strategies...last on the list...to be considered only at times of utter desperation!


Dude...if you get to that degree of desperation...you're already dead...
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Quoting NRAamy:



"I am El Nino!!! I can not die!!!!"
I am EL-NINO!!! ALL TROPICAL STORMS BOW BEFORE ME!!!lol i love that Chris Farley skit....
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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