Ash Flakes Keep Falling on My Head…

I remember distinctly the first time I saw volcanic ash falling.

I was 11, Mount St. Helens had erupted several days before. Until that day the prevailing winds had kept the ash moving east rather than south. I was outside on the upper deck of my home, the sky was partly cloudy, and fluffy gray snow was falling gently.

That fluffy gray snow caused havoc.

Ash isn’t snow. Ash isn’t fluffy. It is made up of hard, caustic materials and when wet can conduct electricity.  We had to be careful washing our cars because the ash would scratch the surfaces. Most people didn’t drive unless they had to because of the damage that the ash caused the internal workings of cars and people for that matter.  

I can only imagine what it would do to an airplane.

The ash cloud is so thick it looks like land from space (NASA photo).  I’ve been tracking it – not even really thinking that this may cause friends of mine travel woes. One is in NYC with a bunch of 15 year olds that need to fly back to Europe. Another is in Italy and supposed to leave Rome for Amsterdam and then Portland on Wednesday. Although planes should be in the air – air traffic won’t be normal for some time.

Not sure I’d want to be in their shoes.

At the same time – I love this!

The thing is we so often think we are in control of our lives and disasters like volcanoes, earthquakes, storms et al are the best reminder that we live in an unpredictable world. The unexpected happens, and happens often, yet we seem to forget that. We think we know what will happen next and spend an awful amount of time, energy and money predicting the future only to discover that it is unpredictable.

We like the illusion of control it gives us.

But it is just that… illusion.

~ Tess


1 Comment

Filed under In the News

One response to “Ash Flakes Keep Falling on My Head…

  1. Geo

    Aircraft and volcanic ash don’t get along. Besides sandblasting the windshield the ash enters the jet engine which is running at 1,100C and melt. Then this ash slurry coats the blades and combustion chamber. This is all kinds of bad.

    On the upside, the ash makes good fertilizer, in moderation.

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