Blobs of Doom, watching Iceland

TLDR: The two blobs of doom on NHC’s maps are nothing too serious to worry about, although they are causing a lot of rain (and in some cases flooding). No eruption yet in Iceland as of 7:30am ET Thursday, but one is expected any day now.

In the tropics, Cyclone Mal passed Fiji causing some impacts but is fading, Depression 17W isn’t spinning up. In the Atlantic there are two disturbances NHC is watching. One is over South Florida and has dumped nearly a foot of rain in the Miami area. It has almost no chance of spinning up but will continue to cause rain in Florida, The Bahamas, and Georgia. The second system has a Invest ID (AL98) and a 50% chance of tropical development as it heads northwest across the Caribbean, crossing Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic).

click to embiggen.

Again the risk is rain, and flash flooding is possible in mountainous areas with some gusty winds across the region. Of course the fragile infrastructure in Haiti means it may have outsized impacts even if technically it does not become a tropical system.

In Iceland, the waiting continues. The situation has not changed that much: magma continues to flow under the Grindavik area. There continues to be significant out-gassing of SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide, an indication the magma just below the surface). Residents and businesses located in the area of highest risk are being selectively allowed into the area for short periods (five minutes!) to try to get valuables and personal items out. The town has suffered a lot of damage, the continuous earthquakes and ground fissures from the graben formation (subsidence, over a meter/3 ft in places) has cracked foundations, made roads impassible, and last night caused the power to go out. The biggest fear is that the magma will erupt uphill and send lava flowing into the town. If a significant eruption occurs anywhere within the thick red line on this map, parts of the town will be at risk:

Bergrún Arna Óladóttir, Melissa Anne Pfeffer, Sara Barsotti and Bogi B. Björnsson. (June 2023). Long-term risk assessment of the Reykjanes Peninsula west of Kleifarvatn: Lava, gas pollution and pyroclastic fallout . Icelandic Meteorological Office. (In Icelandic)

The government is moving heavy equipment into the area to be ready to protect the power plant at Svartsengi by constructing a 5km long dyke to try to divert any potential flows.

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