Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano roared back to life this week, spewing huge clouds of ash that forced schools to be canceled in 11 villages around it. 25 million people live in a radius around the volcano, of which 3 million people live in the nearby municipality of Puebla. The authorities have not yet ordered their evacuation, but have declared a third level of danger.
A volcano with a height of 5426 meters, also affectionately nicknamed El Popo, has been steadily spewing poisonous fumes, ash and pieces of red-hot stones for almost 30 years. – since 1994, when I woke up from a long sleep. Popocatepetl lies 72 kilometers southeast of the center of the Mexican capital of Mexico City and rises just a few dozen kilometers above the eastern suburbs of this metropolis of 22 million people. The city has to deal with other threats, such as earthquakes and subsidence, but the volcano is the most visible threat, and also the most closely watched.
According to volcanologist Jessica Ball, the current activity of the volcano is normal.. “It’s just part of being an active volcano. On a human time scale, there is no cycle that determines which volcanoes erupt at what time.” she told the New York Times.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reported that smoke from Popocatepetl over the weekend rose to a height of 7.2 kilometers. Because of this, Mexico City Airport was forced to suspend operations for several hours.
Authorities according to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador they control and are in contact with the relevant government departments. On Sunday, the threat level was raised to three. Residents of the municipality of Puebla received a message about the readiness for a possible evacuation – it can happen at any time.
Six cameras and one thermal imaging camera are located around the top of the volcano. Twelve seismological stations operate continuously and are subordinate to the control center in the capital, where 13 scientists and specialists in various fields constantly replace each other. Being able to give early warning of approaching ash clouds is critical, as it gives people the opportunity to protect themselves from the potential impacts of rainfall. Unlike an earthquake, a volcanic eruption is also more predictable, and a longer delay is sufficient for sufficient warning.