Iceland Eruption Ash: It was like Driving into a Wall Skip to content

Iceland Eruption Ash: It was like Driving into a Wall

When you are faced with the choice of driving 600 kilometers to the nearest airport or 18 kilometers with zero visibility what do you do? Iceland Review reporters drove on Saturday night to Skógar from the east. The short road from Reykjavík was closed so they took the flight to Egilstadir and drove from there. The flight? Yes, Iceland is almost the only country in Europe in which there have been only slight disruptions for domestic flight. Most of the volcanic ash was exported to Europe.

Eyjafjallajökull spewing out ash on Saturday April 18. Photo Benedikt Jóhannesson/Iceland Review

However, the thick smoke went over a piece of land from Eyjafjallajökull out to the sea. Our reporters had made it to Skógar, but the prospect of staying there was not promising. Everyone had left except one farmer. They tried to get a nap, but the explosions coming from the towering volcano kept waking them up.

Suddenly, the smoke seemed to clear up and they made a split second decision. Go west! After all it was only 18 kilometers which should only take 15 minutes. Soon they realized that you can’t drive at full speed on a road covered with volcanic ash. The fine powder left a thick trail and they put on their masks. The dust seemed to penetrate through the windows, even though they were rolled up.

Suddenly, they faced a dark cloud. They decided to drive on, but it was like driving into total darkness. “We hardly saw anything. We had to slow down and drive very slowly, hoping we would stay on the road. It felt like we were in a complete void.”

In the end they did make it through the thick smoke and got permission to go over the old bridge over Markarfljót. It was easy to get that permission since they were going away from the volcano.

The rescue squad stops a car going away from the eruption.

In the meantime another Iceland Review team came from Reykjavík. The two met just east of Hvolsvöllur, a village in the south.

They are back! Bjarni Brynjólfsson and Páll Stefánsson

Our special offer for the Iceland Review magazine with eruption photos and coverage. Now you can also buy a unique book with Páll Stefánsson’s photographs of the eruption on Fimmvörduháls.

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