CUENCA DIGESTSecond volcano roars to life while officials keep watch on Tungurahua; weatherman predicts more chilly days
While volcanic activity has remained constant at Tungurahua in the central highlands near Ambato, scientists say lava flow and ash and gas emissions have intensified at a second volcano, Reventador, 60 miles east of Quito.
Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute says the lava flow on Reventador’s southern flank has increased since Saturday but poses no immediate threat to villagers in the region. The 11,400 foot (3,475 meters) high Reventador, last had a major eruption in Novemeber 2002.
Meanwhile, 16,480 foot (5,023 meters) high Tungurahua continues to send smoke and ash three to four miles into the sky, covering dozens of square miles with ash and ruining crops. The continuous lava flows have, so far, no affected populated areas.
Sunday’s major exposion of Tungurahua hurled rocks as far as 40 miles from the volcano, breaking car windows and damaging roofs. A dog in Baños de Ambato was reported killed by a falling rock.
A major concern remains air traffic, which has been rerouted in some cases to avoid the ash plume. A number of Quito – Cuenca flights have been cancelled since Sunday but other flghts have continued on schedule. Dozens of international flights have also been cancelled but, as with local flights, most have stayed on schedule.
Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute says it expects continued activity from both Tungurahua and Reventador and adivse residents near both volcanos to be ready to evacuate if necessary.
Aurhorities are particularly concerned about the tourist town of Baños de Ambato, which is only miles from Tungurahua. The town is built on a lava flow from an eruption 800 years ago and geologists say a new eruption of that magnitude would destroy the city and kill anyone in it. Baños was evacuated in 1999 after a moderate eruption.
Tungurahua is 120 miles north of Cuenca.
Weather man says to expect more cool days
The weatherman says that the cool weather will continue.
The National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (INAMHI) says that a westerly airflow from the Amazon has created cloud cover that has lowered temperatures in southern Ecuador in the last 10 days.
INAMHI Meteorogist Fabian Salas says the airflow will remain in place for several more days. “It is not much cooler than normal but the damp air and wind makes it feel cooler,” he said. He pointed out that July is historically the coolest month of the year in Cuenca. August is the second coolest.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the low temperatures of 7.6 and 8.5 degrees celsius (46 and 47 degrees Fahrenheit) were near normal for this time of year. The high on Wednesday was 18.2 degrees C. (64 degrees F.).
Salas said that normal weather patterns have been delayed this year. “Usually, we have more rain in April and May, but this year, the rains have come in May, June and July.” He explained that the cool weather in July in August is the result of a strong flow of the Humboldt Current in the Pacific Ocean. “This affects the weather in all parts of Ecuador.”
A INAMHI brochure explains why people feel colder in July and August even though the temperature is only three or four degrees cooler than other periods of the year. “The masonry construction used in the majority of housing in Ecuador tends to retain both heat and coolness. When there is a lack of sunshine, the coolness is intensified.”
Crack-down on street vendors and illegal signage
Cuenca’s Department of Municipal Urban Control says it is cracking down on unlicensed food vendors around the city as well as unauthorized signage.
Authorities are concentrating their efforts Avs. Promenade des Canaris, Gonzalez Suarez, Panamericana Norte, Las Americas, Turuhuayco and Max Uhle, and say they will soon widen their sweep to include the historic district.
“It is unlawful to sell food or any other products on public property without a license,” a spokesman for Urban Control said. “The sidewalks and public green areas are for the use of all citizens and should not be taken over by private vendors.”
The spokeman said there were health and safety concerns as well. “Many vendors serve hot food and maintain boiling pots of oil on their carts. If these pots spill, they are very dangerous.” He also mentioned that leaking oil stains sidewalks and that food quality cannot be monitored from illegal street vendors.
Urban Control is also removing signs from public property.
Photo caption: Tungurahua on Monday afternoon.