A volcanic eruption won't sideline these Penn State fans.

Several local devotees are keeping their travel plans and looking forward to seeing the Nittany Lions take on the University of Central Florida at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, in Ireland.

"We have 44 anxious fans who can't wait to leave. If they had to climb an erupting volcano to see the game, they would," said John Bailey, president of Bailey Travel Service in York.

While scaling a volcano isn't on the company's itinerary, a potential volcanic eruption in Iceland is raising a red flag over the season opener for both schools.

The Icelandic volcano Bardarbunga's threat level was raised to the fourth position on a five-tiered scale after intense seismic activity was detected Saturday.

It was the strongest earthquake activity in the region since 1996, according to the BBC.

If the volcano erupts, the ash cloud would span several miles in height and width, likely grounding several airplanes. A similar Icelandic eruption four years ago canceled 10,000 flights, the Associated Press reported.

So what?: Despite the news, Penn State fans are undeterred.

"We can't wait to leave. We've seen the news and if a volcano erupts and we get stuck in Ireland, oh well. You could be stuck in worst places," said Janice Schimel, a York Township resident who is traveling to Ireland with her husband and six other couples.

Schimel and her friends were leaving early Friday morning and intend to return a week and a half later.


"My bags are packed, and we're doing this, volcano and all," she said.

Another York Township native was also packing her bags Thursday.

Hannah Byrne, a Penn State senior and Dallastown Area High School graduate, is traveling to the game with a journalism class.

The all-expenses-paid trip is sending three photographers and five reporters to Ireland for nine days, where they will each earn three credits for writing stories or shooting photos and videos.

"A volcano could erupt, but I think it would be cool to report on it," Byrne said.

She said she's confident that while flights may be canceled, all travelers will be kept safe.

Vigilance: School officials for both Penn State and the University of Central Florida said they're keeping an eye on the situation.

Geoscience experts have issued several predictions, and some do not affect flight paths across northern Europe. Others do, and nearly all spare the football season opener for the American universities.

Byrne maintains she is not nervous.

"If worse comes to worse, it will still be a good experience, she said.

—Reach Candy Woodall at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.