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Costa Rica: Volcano

Airport in Costa Rica Reopens as Volcanic Activity Continues


Despite incandescent volcanic matter being ejected from the crater of the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica, the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), located in the Alajuela province, resumed operations during the early hours of Friday. Officials from the Directorate of Civil Aviation and from Aeris, the management firm in charge of SJO, had shut down the airport on Thursday evening due to ash accumulation, which resulted in the cancellation of more than a dozen flights.


Initially, SJO had been scheduled to reopen at midnight; alas, that was not the case. It took longer than expected for ground maintenance crews to clear ash from the runway and from the ground instruments used during takeoff and landing procedures, and the prevailing winds dancing around the crater of the Turrialba did not help in this regard.


According to journalist Soledad Montero of business daily La Republica, the arrival of 14 incoming flights was impacted by the active colossus, which is located in the province of Cartago. Moreover, the departure of flights bound for Dallas, Miami, Colombia, Guatemala, and Panama were also canceled.


Not long after the green light was given to resume airport operations, geologists from the Observatory on Volcanology and Seismology of Costa Rica (Spanish acronym: OVSICORI) reported a dramatic eruption that lit up the darkened skies as it expelled incandescent material. That discharge of volcanic material took place at 3:40 am. The Turrialba volcano is currently the most active of all active colossi in Costa Rica; in fact, this is the second time that it manages to disrupt flight operations in our country’s busiest airport.


Prevailing winds traveling north and west have deposited ash on the Braulio Carrillo National Park as well as on the eastern suburbs of the capital city of San Jose. The smell of sulfur in the morning was quite strong, and a few pedestrians were seen wearing surgical masks in the morning. Emergency officials have not upgraded the green alert on the vicinity of the Turrialba volcano, which is closed to tourists.


Jane Clemens