SFO vs. the Volcano

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    BRISTOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Andy Bodenham, Met Office Forecaster points at an enchanced colour satellite image highlighting a volcanic ash plume moving towards the United Kingdom at the Met Office headquarters April 15, 2010 in Exeter, England. The plume area is shown as a mix of cloud and ash resulting from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. All flights in and out of Britain's airports have been grounded due to the plume drifting across northern Europe following the eruption. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

    F-16 fighter pilots did not have good news for the thousands of people stranded by a a volcano in Iceland.

    Several took test flights through the volcanic cloud and suffered engine damage.  The volcanic ash sticks to jet engine parts like turbines.  It becomes a glassy coating that restricts air flow and can lead to engine failure.

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    Here in the Bay Area the volcano has canceled dozens of international flights at SFO.   Flights to and from London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Munich  were canceled beginning last Thursday.   Two flights to Germany were scheduled to take off from SFO Monday with an overnight flight possible to the UK early Tuesday.  Passengers with original tickets on the flights were the only ones who were expected to make the trip.  The back log of other passengers will continue for several more days as they try to squeeze on future flights.

    There is a bit of a silver lining to the volcano cloud.  In the coming weeks, we could be in for some spectacular sunsets here in the Bay Area.  There is a chance, the ash will make it Northern California courtesy the jet stream.  The glassy particles from the ash will reflect in the what is called the prolonged afterglow of the sun and wah-lah -- we can expect memorable sunsets to say the least.

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    Back to the bad news.  Here's a list of airlines affected by the volcano:

    • United
    • British Airways
    • Virgin Atlantic
    • Air France
    • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
    • Lufthansa

    Flights in and out of Oakland and San Jose have not been effected.

    The duty manager at SFO said Monday that the situation remains very fluid and that SFO "will ride it out until it clears."

    Dozens of members of Los Gatos High School band were in Italy on a performance tour and are now stranded in Munich.   The airline is paying for them to stay in Munich and most of the students appeared to happy to be in Europe and not in school Monday.

    Once flights do resume, it could take up to a week before everyone gets to their destination.

    Scientists say there was no way to know how much longer the volcano will spew the ash that has thoroughly disrupted global air travel.