Volcanic ash cloud reaches North American coast

Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:18pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - The ash cloud from Iceland's volcanic eruption brushed up against Canada's Eastern seaboard on Monday, but airlines said domestic flight cancellations were mostly because of fog.

Environment Canada expected no domestic problems from the cloud, which has shut European airports. "The ash cloud is very diffuse, moving slowly and should not affect Canadian airports," said spokeswoman Laura Cummings.

Britain's national weather service, the Met Office, is responsible for monitoring the ash cloud under international agreements, and duty forecaster Bob Syvret said it was unlikely to drift much further into North America.

"It is just skirting into the Newfoundland area over the next 12 to 18 hours," Syvret told Reuters. "It doesn't look as if it is going to get much further west than that, just on the coast and a little further inland."

Newfoundland, on Canada's Atlantic seaboard, is the closest part of North America to Iceland's erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

An airport spokesman in the capital, St John's, said there had been flight cancellations early on Monday. But that was because of thick fog -- common at this time of year -- rather than fear that the volcanic ash could damage planes.

"Up to this point there is no indication that the airspace will be affected (by the ash cloud)," said Randy Mahon. "Transport Canada hasn't closed any airspace and we've been in regular communication with them."

Air Canada, the country's biggest airline, said it brought some Newfoundland flights forward because of fear of problems from the ash, which can contain glass, pulverized rock and silicates. But operations were now back to normal.   Continued...