Travellers Advised to Steer Clear of the Múlakvísl River

The Icelandic Meteorological Office advises travellers to keep their distance from the Múlakvísl river, on the western side of Mýrdalssandur in south Iceland due to heavy gas pollution. A small glacial flood is ongoing in Múlakvísl. Heavy gas pollution is accompanying the flood. The flood has not reached its peak and could increase.

The warning was issued following measurements at the Láguhvolar seismic station, indicating that hydrogen sulphide levels were above the level of concern for public health (20 ppm). Travellers who experience symptoms such as nasal burns or eye irritation are advised to leave the area.

Conductivity (indicating the inflow of geothermal water) has risen in the last two days and is now around 260/microS/cm. Increased conductivity and gas pollution are common side effects of glacial floods and a small flood is currently ongoing.

According to Kristín Elísa Guðmundsdottir, natural hazard expert at the Icelandic Met Office, the warning will be in effect until noon tomorrow: “Generally speaking, we advise travellers to keep clear of the area for the time being.”

Floods of this magnitude are common in Múlakvísl. Earlier this summer, experts warned that a larger than usual flood might be imminent but although water levels in the river are high for this time of year, they’re still lower than top summer levels.

Boeing 737 MAX-8 Flights Postponed due to Extra Security Measures

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The departure of the five Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX-8 planes, which were planned to take off today, was unexpectedly postponed yesterday night. The French Directorate General for Civil Aviation has placed additional conditions on the flights, to ensure their complete safety. The stipulations include the demand that the planes not fly over urban areas.

Icelandair intends to fly the airplanes to Tolouse, France for storage, to protect them from the wear and tear caused by harsher weather conditions at Keflavík airport. The planes have been grounded in storage at Keflavík airport for half a year since two separate 737 MAX-8 planes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

The planes were to take off today, October 1. Icelandair is now working on a new flight plan, which fulfils the requirements of French aviation authorities. However, there are other factors at play which might interrupt the transportation of the planes. Military exercises off the west coast of Ireland could delay the flights even further, as well as worse weather conditions later this week. As one of the conditions for the flight is that they fly at a lower altitude than normal, the weather is expected to disturb the planes more than usual. Þórarinn Hjálmarsson, pilot and head of fleet at Icelandair, hopes that they can fly the planes to Toulouse on Thursday or Friday. Icelandair expects the flights to take off once the new flight plans will be submitted to, and accepted by French authorities.

Strict conditions
Þórarinn is one of the four pilots assigned to transport the planes, who have been training in a flight simulator to prepare for the journey. “We need to fly with the wing flaps out, as little as possible,” Þórarinn explained. “We need to go at a lower speed and we need to be at a lower altitude than usual.” Under such conditions, Þórarinn says, a crash like those that occurred in Ethiopia and Indonesia is “just not possible.” The trip will take two hours longer than normal, as the planes cannot exceed an altitude of 20,000 feet.