Penn State knew that playing a game in Ireland would come with some unique challenges. I’m sure that when the coaching staff and the university were making preparations for the trip, an erupting volcano was the last thing on anyone’s mind.
However, a volcano in Iceland (about 900 miles from Dublin) is threatening to erupt and cause a disruption in air travel. Despite that, the Nittany Lions are continuing preparations for the trip.
The university released a statement on Saturday addressing the volcano issue. According to Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson, Penn State is aware of the situation and has been in contact with all of the necessary parties.
“Over the past several days we have been talking with officials from UCF, the GAA (Gaelic athletic Association) and United Airlines, our charter provider. We continue to monitor the situation and maintain regular communications with all appropriate parties. The safety and welfare of our student-athletes, staff and fans will be at the forefront throughout our discussions. At this time, we are continuing our preparations for the game and for the team to depart on Tuesday evening for Dublin.”
Although the volcano won’t directly affect Ireland, the problem lies in the ash cloud that will be created by an eruption. In 2010, an Iceland volcanic eruption produced a large ash cloud and canceled more than 100,000 flights.
The threat of an eruption in the near future seems to have gotten worse. The Icelandic Meteorological Office recently upgrade the air travel alert from the orange level to the red level. Red is the most serious on the five-color scale.
If the teams are unable to fly to Ireland, there’s been no talk of a contingency plan as of yet. The teams do not have common open dates on their respective schedules.
Be sure to check back with VBR this week for the latest on this situation.