Posted at 01:11 PM ET, 05/23/2011

Iceland volcano eruption disrupts Air Force One’s travels, for second time

President Obama reacts to the heavy wind blowing as he and first lady Michelle Obama disembark from Air Force One as they arrive at Dublin Airport on May 23. That wind may soon carry blowing ash. (Matt Dunham - AP)
Update: The President has decided to leave Dublin tonight at 7.30pm instead of Tuesday because of ash cloud fears.


A volcano that erupted in Grimsvotn, Iceland Sunday may disrupt President Obama’s six-day trip around Europe.

Obama is scheduled to fly to Britain Tuesday morning after celebrating his roots in Ireland, but ash from the Grimsvotn volcano is due reach British airspace right around that time, according to London’s weather service, the Met office.

If the Grimsvotn volcano disrupts Air Force One’s travels, it won’t be the first time.

Ash from an Icelandic volcano in April 2010 grounded Air Force One and prevented Obama from flying to Poland to attend the funerals of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and Polish officials who had died in a plane crash.

And when Obama visited his boyhood home of Indonesia in November 2010, Obama was forced to cut short his trip by eruptions from Indonesia’s Mount Merapi.

Smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. Grimsvotn lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles east of Iceland’s capital, Rejkjavik. (Jon Gustafsson - AP)
But a British official says the country is better prepared than it was when Iceland’s volcano eruption last year shut down airports for five days. Britain now has more information on how ash clouds move and is less likely to have to enforce a blanket flight ban, according to British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

That’s good news not only for Obama, but also for the 10 million travelers stranded around the world after the Iceland volcano last year, who won’t be pleased if they’re grounded again.

Passengers wait in the departure hall at the Vienna airport April 16, 2010, after a huge ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano spread across Europe and disrupted thousands of flights. (Heinz-Peter Bader - Reuters)

By  |  01:11 PM ET, 05/23/2011

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company