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Science Behind The Weather: Volcano

Frantic volcanic activity seen across much of the globe


Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 6:06 - Several volcanos around the world were very active last week spewing enormous amounts of ash and gas into the atmosphere and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes. But it´s not all just about volcanic activity, there has also been quite a bit of earthquake activity along some the volcano impacted areas, especially in the Pacific Ring of Fire.


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During the last 10 days close to 40 volcanos worldwide have been showing signs of activity and great deal of them, 34, are located along the very active Ring Fire.



Mount Sinabung is just one of the 130 volcanoes that extend along the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Considering that in the 20th century the average number of volcanic eruptions was 35 per year, what we are seeing just this week is above last century´s average for an entire year. This increasing volcanic activity around the the Ring of Fire is not new, the region is home to 452 volcanoes, 75% of all earth's, and geologists have been warning that this 25,000 mile stretch of active and dormant volcanoes is becoming more unstable in recent years.



Satelite image of Mt Sinabung, the most active volcano in Indonesia and one of the most active in the world. (source : Google maps)

Sinabung, the deadliest eruption of the week

During the weekend of May 21 and 22, the northern skies of the Indonesian island of Sumatra were covered with a thick black cloud of ash and gases resulting from the eruption of Mount Sinabung, Indonesia's most active volcano. Several cities in the area were evacuated and in the village of Gembar, seven people lost their lives, all of them farmers, after inhaling deadly gases. Sinabung is one of the many active volcanoes in the island, and after showing signs of activity back in early November of 2014, many residents in the area were forced to relocate in other villages of northern Sumatra located at a safer distance from the volcano.

Mount Sinabung continued to show signs of activity late last week, and was still on the highest alert level with potential for more eruptions.

Below: Video shot by photojournalist Irsan Mulyadi shows a dog covered with ashes lies on the streets of the village of Gembar in northern Sumatra. Many areas of the island have been covered with ash after the violent eruption of Sinabung.

Below: One of the main threats for the people that live near the volcano is breathing very toxic gases emitted. These two children cover themselves with a plastic bag to avoid inhalation of Sulfur and Chlorine compounds addition to ash.

Costa Rica, Mexico, Italy also affected by volcano eruptions 

While Sinabung was doing its thing in Indonesia, many other volcanos around the world were showing signs of activity this week.


THE BIG REVEAL: Will a developing La Niña affect our summer as much as El Niño affected our winter? Take a look at our Summer Forecast and we'll help you plan your summer | SEE THE FORECAST HERE


One of the most active has been Turrialba in Costa Rica. 

The small Central America country has a dozen active volcanoes and it is located close to the capital, San Jose. 

Early last week, a prolonged and violent eruption dropped a significant amount of ash over the city and nearby towns, forcing many people to wear masks and in some cases evacuate entire neighborhoods.

Other relevant volcanos that have shown activity this week are Mexico's Popocatépetl and Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.

In the case of the Mexican volcano, the Monday (May 23) eruption was very fiery, with significant ash and lava flows along the foothills. Due to local weather conditions the large cloud of ash covered many areas of the nearby city of Puebla and forced the local airport to close. 

This recent eruption has been the first major one since the year 2000.

Below: View of the Popocatepetl volcano at dawn from the Izta-Popo National Park, in the central Mexican state of Puebla, on January 31, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP / RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

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