View of the Turrialba volcano on September 20, 2016 in Cartago, 46 km from San Jose.
View of the Turrialba volcano on September 20, 2016 in Cartago, 46 km from San Jose.

QCOSTARICA – Since Monday the Turrialba volcano had over 20 significant eruptions, spewing ash and gas up to 4,000 metres (4  kilometres) above the crater, that ended up closing the country’s main airport for almost 24 hours.

The ash plume this Friday morning was small in comparison to the images and videos of the last several days.

The volcano, located some 35 kilometres east of San Jose, woke up in 2010. Since it has been hot and cold, that is with relatively little activity and then periods of intense eruptions and emanations of ash, gases and incandescent material.

The eruptions this week started in the small hours of Monday, September 19, with several ‘important’ eruptions, that combined with strong winds blowing west, forced the closure of the San Jose airport shortly after noon on Monday.

Airport operations were at a halt. An attempt to re-open the airport lasted only 30 minutes. On Tuesday morning, September 20, the airport continued closed with updates that it would first re-open at 6:00am, then 8:00am and 11:00am. Finally, airport operations resumed shortly before noon. But by that time dozens of flights had been cancelled or diverted, flights at the San Jose airport were grounded, thousands of passengers stranded. In total, more than 12,000 people were directly affected.

By Tuesday afternoon the volcano had calmed down some, continuing with eruptions, but nothing violent or concerning.

Thursday morning, September 22, the volcano blew its stack again, spewing ash and gas to 3.000 metres above the crater. Prevailing winds were mainly to the north and then changed direction to the east, sparing the San Jose airport.

Although airport operations resumed, the San Jose airport website with a green notice that all was clear, few flights were coming in and out on Thursday, following what as described by a Q reader as a “mad house” of passengers on Wednesday.

The major concern this morning is the avalanche of ash – almost like snow – off the volcano wall into the Toro Amarillo river, that is space gray. Ash is up to three times dense as ice or snow, a little ash accumulation adds up real fast.

For us in Costa Rica we have learned to live with the rumblings of this colossus. Although it may be “big” news internationally, in Costa Rica we take it with normality, concerning ourselves more with the real big problem of daily traffic congestion in San Jose.

Keep tuned to the Q for the latest news on the Turrialba volcano.

Use the comments section below or post to our official Facebook page your experience with the Turrialba. We would love to hear from you.


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