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Iceland Volcano triggers intense flooding


April 17, 2010 — Flooding near a volcano in Iceland has damaged farmers' fields, but evacuees have gone home.

An erupting volcano in Iceland has had people talking around the world over the past week, mainly because of the massive amounts of smoke and ash that have been spewing into the air.

That's led to thousands of flight cancellations in Europe and beyond, affecting hundreds of thousands of travellers.

On Thursday, however, the volcano triggered a different problem - flooding.

Hot fumes melted up to a third of the glacial ice covering the volcanic crater. Water carrying icebergs the size of small houses rushed down the mountain. The extra runoff then caused a nearby river to burst its banks.

Farmers' fields have already been washed out, and authorities say there could be damage to roads and infrastructure. About 800 families were asked to leave their homes, but most have now been allowed to return home.

While the threat of flooding has eased for the time being, the smoke and ash from this volcano continues to cause major problems.

HOW LONG WILL THE ERUPTION LAST?

According to a geophysics professor in Iceland, the current eruption could continue for weeks.

“And if we look at the historical perspective, the last eruption from the summit crater of Eyjafjallajokull 190 years ago or so, that went on for more than a year, but having said that, it was not active in the sense of generating an eruption plume and large amount of tefra as we are seeing now, for the whole period,” says Magnus Tumi Gudmunsson.

He says it's impossible to predict how long the ash would cause problems for air traffic. “There are no easy options here, this eruption may stop tomorrow, but it may continue to disrupt air traffic for weeks or months.” However, the volcano appeared to be easing up on Saturday, but officials believe it could continue to erupt for days or months to come.

Iceland's Meteorological Office says the cloud of ash has shrunk to a height of five to eight kilometers from six to 11 kilometers when it began erupting earlier this week.

For more on this story, make sure you tune into The Weather Network on TV. The news comes up every :12 and :42 minutes past the hour.

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