Q COSTA RICA – Strong winds and a sustained eruption by the Turrialba volcano that began on Monday, has resulted in a Green Alert issued by the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) – national emergency commission – for the Central Valley.
The scattered ash in many parts of the west of the volcano, reaching as far as Alajuela, resulted in a number of airlines from the U.S. cancelling flights. Although San Jose airport operations remain normal, on Wednesday dozens of flights were cancelled. On Thursday only four flights were suspended, reports the airport manager, Aeris.
The Green Alert activates local emergency committees, specifically in Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago and San Jose, to be vigilant and respond quickly in any emergency situation.
The alert also asks the population to be on the alert to reports of ash fall and take proactive measures to ensure minimal effect, such as staying indoors or using face masks in areas where ash fall is present.
According to the CNE, based on technical scientific reports, the Turrialba volcano began this week a new period of constant eruptions, marked by a permanent emission of ashes, gases and aerosols.
The ash columns have mostly been lower than 500 metres above the crater base and the seismic or volcanic tremor has been maintained with an average amplitude, spiking in some cases.
Normally, the ash cloud at such low altitudes doesn’t get far from the volcano. But with the strong winds typical of the season, the ash fall has spread. Areas like Coronado has seen an increase of people visiting medical centres for respiratory problems. Similar, but to a lesser degree, are residents of Goicoechea, Moravia, Tibás and Heredia.
The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN) – national weather service – explains a mass of dry air affecting all of Central America has practically annulled the possibility of rain, while the winds from the northeast have reached speeds of up to 50 km/h and may increase.
What does this mean for travellers to and from Costa Rica?
Like thousands found out in the last couple of days, it means grounded flights. For the major part, only U.S. airlines, with stricter measures, have cancelled flights. Regional airlines appear to be operating normally. But that could change at any time, depending all on the volcano.
As for why some airlines cancel the flights and others do not, Enio Cubillo, director of Civil Aviation, said that they are individual policies, but in some cases, in flights of more than three hours and knowing that the weather conditions can suddenly change due to conditions of nature, airlines prefer not to risk it. Ash in the air can affect aircraft engines and sensors.
If you are travelling to or from Costa Rica in the coming days, check with your airline and/or the San Jose airport website for the status of your flight.
Source La Nacion