Popocatepetl Volcano Erupts in Central Mexico: What We Know


Three million people living near Mexico’s 18,000-foot Popocatepetl volcano are facing evacuation orders as volcanic ash continues to erupt in the area, schools are closed and hundreds of flights are canceled. Delayed or canceled.

Here’s everything we know about the volcano and its impact on people living near it, pulled from the original report and Yahoo’s partner network, including The New York Times, NBC News, and more.

Where are the volcanoes?

Smoke and ash from Popocatpetl volcano

Smoke and ash from the Popocatepetl volcano in Puebla, Mexico, on Monday. (Eric Gomez Tochimani/AFP via Getty Images)

Popocatepetl, the country’s largest active volcano, is located in the states of Puebla, Morelos, and Mexico in central Mexico. About 25 million people live within a 90-mile radius of the volcano, 45 miles southeast of Mexico City.

When was the last major eruption?

The volcano was dormant for decades until its 1994 eruption. A major eruption occurred in 2000, displacing about 50,000 people in the area. Since then, the volcano, or “smoky mountain” as it is known to locals, has seen moderate to moderate activity.

When did your most recent activity begin?

View of Popocatpetl from the town of Santiago Salitzintla, Mexico

View of Popocatepetl from the town of Santiago Salitzintla, Mexico, on May 12 (Imelda Medina/Reuters)

Mount Popocatepetl began erupting earlier this month after authorities detected activity from it in mid-April. Satellites operated by NASA and the US Geological Survey captured images of some of the volcano’s spring activity on April 14.

a Timelapse video posted on Facebook Footage released Monday by Mexico’s National Disaster Prevention Center showed the volcano spewing smoke and ash at sunrise.

Is this normal?

“Most likely,” said Jessica Ball, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. told the New York Times.

This activity is “only part of being an active volcano,” she said, adding that “there is really no human timescale cycle that determines which volcanoes erupt and when.”

More Volcano Coverage from Yahoo News Partners

Now, how tall is the plume?

Enlarged view of the Popocatpetl eruption

A close-up of Popocatepetl, which erupted on Monday. (Eric Gomez Tochimani/AFP via Getty Images)

NASA said researchers had measured plumes up to 4.5 miles, and forecasters warned that areas just south of Mexico City could see up to 32 millimeters of rain on Monday.

four and a half miles expensive?

yes. Popocatepetl’s volcanic plume grounded both Mexico City’s main airports for about five hours on Saturday. As NBC News pointed out, ash fall in particular can obscure pilots’ vision, interfere with radio communications, and affect jet engines.

What are the other officials out there saying?

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a press conference Monday morning that he was closely monitoring the situation on the volcano and was in contact with federal and local authorities. Mexico’s National Disaster Prevention Center on Sunday raised the alert level for the area around Popocatepetl to Phase 3, just before an evacuation order.

Popocatpetl volcano seen from the town of Santiago Salitzintla in the state of Puebla, Mexico, on Tuesday.  (Photo credit: Rafael Durand/AFP via Getty Images)

Popocatepetl volcano as seen from the town of Santiago Salitzintla in the state of Puebla, Mexico, on Tuesday. (Photo credit: Rafael Durand/AFP via Getty Images)

Sergio Salomon, governor of Mexico’s Puebla state, said the roughly three million people living in towns and villages bordering the volcano should stay vigilant and prepare for possible evacuation.