‘El Popo’ forecast: Large-scale explosions, high probability of incendiary fragments and ash showers
Mexican authorities have raised the alert level for the Popocatepetl southeast of Mexico City following recent activity. The volcano’s eruption in 2000 forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the three states that surround the volcano in central Mexico.
Popocatépetl Volcano (“smoking mountain” in Aztec) is North America’s 2nd-highest volcano. The massive stratovolcano stands 5,450m high and lies about 65 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Mexico City (19.023°N, 98.622°W ) in the eastern segment of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. Mexico’s Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED) has warned of large scale explosions, with high probability of incendiary fragments and ash showers. Image source: CENAPRED, Mexico.
A lava dome is growing in the volcano’s crater, CENAPRED said in a recent bulletin. The massive volcano also has been ejecting incandescent fragments and ash, and spewing steam and volcanic gasses.
The volcano is expected to experience “significant explosions with growing intensity, hurling incandescent rocks significant distances,” with a high probability of ash showers, the center said. Adding that local residents should expect possible flows of lava and lahar down the volcano’s flanks.
The following is the latest bulletin issued by CENAPRED
Abr 18 07:00 (12:00 Abr 18 GMT)
At 06:35 h (local time), the monitoring system recorded the beginning of an exhalation sequence with tremor, that continues at the moment of this report. The first exhalation of this sequence had an explosive component. It generated the emission of incandescent fragments over the north and northeast flanks at distances of 500-800 m (see image 1) and a dense plume of steam, gases and ash (see image 2). The incandescent fragments fall over the snow and generated a small water and ash flow.
Likely, ash fall will occur over the villages in the eastern and southeastern sectors of the volcano.
During the 12 previous hours the monitoring system registered 6 low intensity exhalations, accompanied by steam, gas and small amount of ash. The most important occurred at 00:46 h y 04:59 h (see image 3), which increased the incandescence over the crater rim.
During the night the cloudy conditions doesn##t allow to observe the volcano. During the early morning the volcano could be seen with a continuous emission of steam and gas, that increased the amounts of ash and the density since 06:36 h.
The traffic light alert signal remains in Yellow Phase 3. This level implies:
1. Announcing the situation and measures taken to the public and the media. 2. Prepare personnel, equipment and evacuation shelters. 3. Implement specific measures in the most vulnerable. 4. Implement preventive measures against ash fall, lahars and against fragments in vulnerable regions. 5. Alert air navigation systems. 6. Limit access to the volcano over a larger area.
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