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Iceland Volcano: Aviation Alert Drops From Highest Level

By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
August 28, 2014; 5:14 AM ET
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The Bardarbunga volcano could be counting down toward impacting millions of air travelers.

The aviation eruption threat level has been lowered to orange after briefly being raised to red on Saturday, which is the highest level according to the Iceland Meteorological Office (IMO).

The level had been holding at orange since being increased to that threshold on early last week before increased seismic activity resulted in the red warning on Saturday. After briefly releasing steam on Saturday, a calmer day on Sunday resulted in the warning level being dropped back to orange.

Despite a lower warning level, fears remain that an eruption is taking place beneath the ice, and it may have begun to melt it.

The IMO reported on Saturday that, "A small lava-eruption has been detected under the Dyngjujokull glacier."

They went on to say that, "Data from radars and web cameras is being received, showing no signs of changes at the surface."

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In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in Iceland spewed ash into European Airspace, leading to thousands of flight cancellations which impacted millions.

Airlines lost almost $2 billion due to the canceled flights, according to Bloomberg News.

A plume of ash rises from a volcano erupting under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, Hvolsvollur, Iceland, Wednesday, May 5, 2010. A new wave of dense volcanic ash from Iceland snarled air traffic Wednesday in Ireland and Scotland and threatened to spill into the air space of England. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti)

Additionally, the Croke Park Classic, a college football game between Penn State University and the University of Central Florida in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 30 could be impacted if Bardarbunga erupts.

Both schools, along with thousands of fans, are already arriving in Dublin this week. A UCF spokesperson told the Associated Press that school officials are monitoring the situation.

Over the weekend, upper-level winds were from the north to northwest which would have transported any ash toward Ireland and the United Kingdom if an eruption would have occurred.

Through the beginning of this week, winds around a ridge of high pressure building across the United Kingdom and Ireland would direct any ash across the North Sea and Scandinavia.

Current indications point toward the winds shifting again later in the week taking any potential ash toward Greenland as an area of low pressure tracks to the south of Iceland.

AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for ash to get wrapped around this area of low pressure and be drawn back into the northern Atlantic toward the weekend of Aug. 30 to 31.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski contributed to the content of this story.

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