Volcanic ash approaches North Sea coast

German aviation authorities are implementing special supervision of flights as a cloud of volcanic ash is expected to reach the North Sea coast late on Tuesday.

Volcanic ash approaches North Sea coast
Photo: DPA

Fears of horrendous transport problems as caused by an Icelandic volcano last were inevitably raised by the confirmation from the German Weather Service (DWD) that the ash was heading for Germany.

And with ash concentration likely to rise to between 0.2 and 2.0 milligrams per cubic metre, flights in the region will require special supervision by air traffic authorities.

German officials said on Monday they saw no danger of major disruptions to air travel at present, but announced new rules to help avert the chaos caused by a previous eruption in 2010.

Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said the new rules included a ban on non-emergency flights if the concentration of volcanic ash is more than 2.0 milligrams per cubic metre.

“A recent study has shown once again how harmful volcanic ash particles can be for aircraft and their engines,” Ramsauer said in a statement. “With our measures in place, Germany is well prepared. But an internationally-agreed and uniform approach within the European Union remains necessary.”

Iceland’s airspace, which was closed shortly after the volcano began spewing ash at the weekend, was partially reopened Monday but the main Keflavik airport, near the capital Reykjavik, remained closed, officials said.

A number of airlines cancelled flights in and out of Scotland on Tuesday, while US President Barack Obama left Ireland for London ten hours early to avoid any possible delays due to the ash.

But meteorologists do not expect the situation to become as bad as last year, when the eruption of the Eyjafjoell volcano caused more than 100,000 flight cancellations.

Some eight million passengers were stranded for weeks, dealing a harsh blow to the airline industry, particularly in Europe.

DPA/AFP/The Local/mry

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What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.