From Iceland — Text Messages Insufficient As Eruption Alerts

Text Messages Insufficient As Eruption Alerts

Published September 14, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Axel Sigurðarson, Super-Trainer & Paul Fontaine

It has come to light that using text messaging to alert towns and villages of poisonous SO2 levels does not work as well as intended.

RÚV reports that some 750kg of SO2 are spewing out of the Holuhraun eruption every second. This has caused SO2 levels in many parts of northeast Iceland to reach alarming levels.

In order to alert residents in the area of these dangerous levels of SO2, mass text messages were sent Friday evening to people living in Eskifjörður, Reyðarfjörður, Fáskrúðsfjörður and Neskaupstaður. However, many text messages arrived late, if at all, depending in large part on the mobile carrier.

Those wishing to follow what their local air quality is due to the eruption can more reliably visit the Icelandic Met Office English language page. At the time of this writing, it is reported that “High air pollution was detected yesterday in Egilsstaðir and Reyðarfjörður. Forecasts indicate that the gas cloud will blow towards the north in the next 24 hours. High concentrations of sulphuric gases can be expected in Mývatnssveit, Kelduhverfi, Tjörnes, Húsavík, Aðaldalur and Reykjahverfi.”

To stay safe, they advise that “People who feel discomfort are advised to stay indoors, close their windows, turn up the heat and turn off air conditioning. Use periods of good air quality to ventilate the house. Measurements of air quality can be found on the webpage The Meteorological Office issues forecast on its web-page and warnings if conditions change to the worse.”

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