Heathrow, Gatwick, and other airports disrupted

A large cloud of ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano is sweeping across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, shutting down airports all across the islands.

Heathrow and Gatwick were closed until 7am local time and have been operating on a limited capacity with numerous delays and cancellations. This morning Gatwick had the strange situation of being able to allow planes to take off, but its approach path, which was closer to the ash cloud, was closed and no flights were able to land.

Airports also faced disruptions in parts of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and the Isle of Man. Rail services are adding extra trains to deal with stranded air passengers. Currently only Belfast City, Londonderry, Shetland, and Orkney airports are closed, but most other airports in the region are still trying to catch up after numerous delays and cancellations.

As the cloud continues to move south and east, it may cause disruptions on mainland Europe. Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Rotterdam, and Groningen airports in The Netherlands are closed until at least 2pm local time.

The Met Office, a UK weather predicting service, is predicting the winds over Iceland and the North Atlantic will shift to a more easterly direction in the coming days, blowing the ash up into the arctic regions and away from more populated areas. They have created maps showing the predicted spread of the cloud.