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Ash closes airports, disrupts flights

No further ash drifts from the Iceland volcano were forecast to reach the continent in the coming 24 hours. No further ash drifts from the Iceland volcano were forecast to reach the continent in the coming 24 hours. (APTN)
Associated Press / May 10, 2010

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BRUSSELS — A plume of volcanic ash snaked its way through southern France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany yesterday, shutting down airports and disrupting flights in Europe.

Trans-Atlantic connections were also being diverted around a larger patch of cloud stretching from southern Greenland to the coast of Portugal, adding several hours to flights between Europe and North America and causing congestion as airlines tried to squeeze their planes through remaining routes.

Weather forecasts said the ash cloud hovering over the continent will dissipate as it spreads to southern parts of Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria.

“We’re expecting rain to thin the cloud, leaving only a small band left by Monday morning,’’ said Daniel Gerstgrasser, meteorologist with Switzerland’s national weather agency. No further ash drifts are expected to reach the continent in the coming 24 hours, he said.

The ash forced the closure of airports throughout much of northern Italy until 2 p.m. yesterday. As the cloud moved northward, German authorities halted takeoffs and landings at Munich airport at 3 p.m..