Costa Rica’s Turrialba Volcano Slows, Airports Reopen

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s government has opened the local main airport, for now.

Accuweather is reporting that Turrialba, one of five Costa Rican volcanoes and its most active, recently went through a series of seven eruptions starting on Thursday, March 12. Plumes of smoke and ash shot into the air at least half a mile high, causing numerous cancellations and closures.

Turrialba, so named after the canton it’s located in within the Cartago Province in Costa Rica, has been quite active in terms of volcanoes. Prior to this eruption, Turrialba let loose with another eruption back in 2010. Before that, the last eruption was about 145 years previous.

The eruptions on Thursday caused schools in the Turrialba area to close for Friday, March 13. There is no word as to if schools will open on Monday, March 16. The plumes of smoke and ash, forced by strong coastal winds, ended up in San Juan, Costa Rica’s capital. The ash and smoke caused runways at the Juan Santamaria Intarnational Airport to become slicker than normal, and the smoke greatly hindered visibility. Though the airport has reopened as of Friday, March 13, further eruptions may cause further closures.

Also, due to the eruptions, Costa Rican president Luis G. Solis cancelled a diplomatic trip to stay home to deal with the situation.

Euronews is reporting that all outbound flights from Costa Rica have been cancelled. “We were supposed to catch a 2.35 p.m. flight to Charlotte and then transfer, one of us is going to New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh and the flight was cancelled until Monday,” said one passenger.

Many people living in the foothills of Turrialba have fled their homes. Those in the area who have chosen to remain in the Costa Rican canton have been asked to follow alerts in case further eruptions occur.

Fox Latino is reporting that the focus will be on the volcano and its effects on its travel industry, with the main focus on the airport. Thus far, the eruptions have delayed 111 flights and over 7,000 passengers, according to Silvia Chaves, spokesperson for Aeris, the company that runs the International Airport.

“If the (ash) cloud reaches Juan Santamaria, we will have to suspend the flights again, as it can affect visibility and the runway conditions,” Chaves said.

Turrialba is approximately 43.5 miles east of San Juan. Authorities were able to reopen the airport after crews were able to clear the ash from the runways as of noon on Friday, March 13. Further delays will depend on how active the volcano continues to be, said Chavez.

[Image courtesy of Scientific American]