Mexico Raises Alert Level As Volcano Rumbles Near Capital

Aeromexico Boeing taxiing at Amsterdam.
Gameplayzz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Mexican government has increased the alert levels in case the Volcano – Popocatepetl continues to show signs of a larger eruption. The initial eruption saw Mexico City airport closed for a period of time over the weekend, and now with an Ash cloud from the Surfance towering to FL260 getting pushed in the wind, further flight disruption is likely.

Mexico City airport was quoted on Twitter saying: “After removing the volcanic ash, checking the runways and verifying favourable wind conditions, we resumed takeoff and landing operations starting at 10.00 am,”

“Check with your airline the status of your flight.”

Weekend Long Activity

The initial eruption took place on Friday, May 19, with the airport reopening on Saturday, May 20. But there still remain over-riding concerns of further danger as the Volcano has once again on Sunday, May 21, continued to spew our Volcanic ash and rocks, leading some to believe another eruption may take place soon.

Data from shows General Heriberto Jara Intl. The airport has already cancelled or delayed all inbound and outbound flights for the rest of the day and into tomorrow morning, with the Volcanic ash cloud approaching closer and closer to the seaside city of Veracruz.

Why is Volcanic Ash So Bad For Planes?

Volcanic ash is a menace to any aircraft that crosses its path. The fine, sharp-edged particles of this volcanic debris pose a significant threat to the engines as they can melt and stick to the turbine blades, leading to power loss or total engine failure.

In fact, it’s not just highly active volcanoes that are dangerous; even an airborne plume from an “inactive” volcano can disrupt flights for miles around due to the wide dispersion radius of its ejected materials. These eruptions are unpredictable and occur with little warning, which makes it challenging for pilots to avoid them entirely.

Furthermore, aviation authorities must shut down airspaces when there is volcanic activity in progress so as not to risk passenger safety or contribute to further environmental damage caused by these eruptions and their aftermath.

Possible Repeat of 2010 Icelandic Volcano Disruption?

While it seems unlikely that we will see the same level of disruption as we did in the Icelandic volcano eruption back in 2010, where multiple eruptions caused mass delays and travel chaos all across Europe and the U.S., with many international flights being affected.

However, the volcano sits and will be pushing its volcanic ash clouds directly over one of the main arteries that connect North and South American travellers.


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