Mother Nature clears her throat and we humans, in all our arrogance, are humbled.
The bolts of lightning appearing in the plume of the ash-spewing Eyjafjallajokull volcano are pretty to look at, but the truth is that the process that creates this kind of lightning in erupting volcanoes remains something of a mystery. Lightning, which is usually associated with severe weather such as thunderstorms, hurricanes and the like, is also produced by the rolling debris clouds of volcanoes.
It is thought that the lightning in a volcanic plume is connected to the rotation that these hot gases and ash undergo, sort of like a tornado. As a plume rotates, it can spawn waterspouts or dust devils, which gather together the electric charges in the plume to form a sheath of lightning.
Lol, I'm not an expert obviously, but I've been doing some reading and you can join me by having a look at this site.
All in all, this ash cloud business has become rather a nuisance. I did see a few vapour trails of aircraft flying over London today, but the explanation came when I heard that some other European countries had opened their airspace to aviation and that these were aircraft flying across Britain from the European continent, possibly towards North America and vice versa. I learnt also that a few airports in Scotland and the north of England and in Northern Ireland had opened, but only very few aircraft movements had been reported.
Then I was pleased this evening to hear of several British Airways long-haul flights from all around the world headed for London, even though UK airspace remained officially closed and many of the earlier flights bound for London had been diverted to Madrid instead, from where weary travellers were left to make their own way across Spain and France to the channel port of Calais so as to board a ferry to Dover, (if they could manage to get a place on the ferry that is).
But there was then a report that a BA 747 had just touched down at Heathrow, with live footage to boot. Shortly after these pictures were shown, the 10 O'clock news, which had begun with the announcement that UK airspace was still closed and was not expected to reopen before tomorrow morning, ended with the surprising announcement that the airspace was now officially open. What a difference half an hour can make!
So now, we should all feel better that the end to this chaos is finally in sight. But lets not ignore the important lessons that this has taught us, the first being that the world is totally unprepared for an event such as this. Especially, when one considers that this Icelandic volcano is only a minor volcano.