Turrialba Volcano continues to be a messy irritation

The ash coming from the Volcán Turrialba is creating problems over much of the country. The gritty, gray ash seems to be everywhere and defies normal cleanup.

The volcano has been continuing to emit ash and vapor since Friday morning. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional says the bulk of the ash is going to the west and northwest. There are reports that some ash has been spotted as far away as the central Pacific coast.

Many Costa Rican windows are of the louver type and cannot be closed completely. The ash permeates, covers all the flat surfaces and leaves a gray film.

Of course at points closer to the volcano the ash fall can be an inch or two deep. Schools are closed there, and farmers continue to receive hay trucked in for milk animals. There were electrical outages caused by the ash Sunday.

Costa Ricans have been using vacuum cleaners as well as manual methods to corral the ash over the weekend. There is a danger to electronic equipment. If the emissions increase, homeowners should try to eliminate a buildup of ash on the roof, experts advise.

Another recommendation is to wet down an area before cleaning up the ash to prevent the material from becoming airborne again.

At a few public places adults and children can

be seen wearing surgical masks. Some have respiratory problems aggravated by the ash.

Emergency officials were hoping that the volcano would go back to sleep. But their hopes were dashed at 7:41 a.m. Friday when a major eruption sent ash sweeping into the downtown of the capital.

Since then occasional blasts have been sending columns of ash thousands of feet into the air.
Airline traffic has been nearly normal. Juan Santamaría airport suspended flight operations briefly Saturday. Friday some inbound jets landed in Liberia insteadof Alajuela.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico said that its monitoring camera at the summit of the volcano was out of service Sunday, perhaps due to ash. There also are frequent small earthquakes associated with the volcano. Monitoring continues through a similar camera placed on the Irazú volcano nearby.

Two television stations also maintain cameras near the summit, the Observatorio said.

The emergency commission issued a statement Sunday urging residents to have the basic gear on hand in case the volcanic activity increases. The commission suggests keeping handy bottled water, food, a battery-operated radio with spare batteries and flashlights.

The commission also urged keeping ash out of the storm sewer. It can be recycled for use in the garden, the commission noted.

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