First Calbuco Eruption in 42 Years Suspends Flights in Buenos Aires

By By Michael Kuhne, Staff Writer
April 27, 2015, 1:33:15 AM EDT

Following back-to-back major eruptions at Calbuco volcano in southern Chile, neighboring communities are covered in ash and flights have been suspended in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Wednesday’s eruption is the first in more than 42 years, the Associated Press reported.

"After each eruption, the winds aloft pushed the ash to the north and east of the volcano," stated Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

The volcanic ash dropped visibility down to 1,650 feet (500 meters) at San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, Thursday afternoon.

"The main ash cloud has been gradually thinning out since Thursday but reached and created a haze across Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Uruguay," added Pydynowski.

"The thin layer of residual ash could even spread over far southern Brazil Friday evening and night before it disperses or gets swept offshore on Saturday," she continued.

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The ash was enough to prompt Delta Air Lines, Air France and American Airlines to suspend flights to Buenos Aires' Ezeiza International Airport on Friday, according to Reuters. Local media reported that United Continental followed suit. The airport, however, is still open.

Such precautions are being taken because airborne ash poses severe hazards to planes.

"Better flying weather is expected on Saturday in Buenos Aires following the departure of the ash," stated Pydynowski.

"The thin layer of residual ash could also cause minor issues for those with respiratory problems," stated Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.


Satellite images confirm that a second and more significant eruption followed shortly after.

Authorities evacuated a total of 4,000 people from the nearby town of Ensenada and two other smaller communities, the AP continued. Access to the area around the volcano was closed.

Thirty residents of Ensenada refused to evacuate to care for their homes and animals, according to the AP. The town has since been covered in ash with some roofs collapsing under the ash's weight.

Concerns are high that the ash could contaminate water, cause respiratory illnesses and ground more flights.

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Buenos Aires reported that a thin line of gas, steam and possible ash was seen emitted from the volcano.

"Winds will cause this activity to drift to the west-southwest of the volcano into Saturday," continued Pydynowski.

According to the AP, Chile's national geology and mining service warned that people should remain on alert for another eruption in the coming weeks.

"If there is another eruption this weekend, the wind direction would steer any ash to the east to southeast of the volcano," added Pydynowski.

"For us it was a surprise [Wednesday's eruptions]," Alejandro Verges told the AP. Verges is the regional emergency director of the Los Lagos region where the eruption took place.

Calbuco is considered one of the top three most potentially dangerous among Chile's 90 active volcanos, according to the article.

In the wake of the eruption, the Education Ministry canceled school in communities near the volcano, according to the article. LATAM airlines cancelled flights to and from Puerto Montt, which is in close proximity to the volcano. Flights resumed on Friday.

No injuries have been reported. A hiker who was feared to be missing earlier has since been found.

Ash filtered through the air in Concepcion, Chile, Thursday afternoon, which is located about 300 miles (480 km) north of the volcano. About 56 miles (90 km) northeast of the volcano, The Associated Press reports that a thin layer of ash coated cars and streets in Villa La Angostura, Argentina.

"If there is another major eruption that produces a large ash cloud later Friday or this weekend, stronger winds blowing over the volcano could push the ash across more of southern Argentina and to the waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean," she added.

An area of high pressure will keep the area surrounding the volcano dry through Friday night. That is good news for those beginning to clean up the ash around the volcano.

A band of spotty rain showers will diminish as it approaches the volcano on Saturday. A better opportunity for a shower will come later Monday.

"This time of year, rainy days are increasingly common," stated Meteorologist Jim Andrews. "If it is not raining, [the area] is prone to fog and clouds."

#erupcion #Volcan #Calbuco 🌋🗻💥 increible vista desde #PuertoVaras. Fuerza sur querido! 💪❤️

A photo posted by Josefina Fischer (@jofbroussain) on

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