Monday, February 3, 2014

Volcanic Ash in Cuenca

As we were watching the sunrise Sunday morning, it seemed the City was misty or hazy.  Our City view was a little different than normal.  We didn't think too much about it as our morning view changes each day.

One of our daily chores is to sweep the terrace...  Well...

What was all that dirt?  Nearby construction?  Or just a dirty City?  The terrace hadn't been swept for a few days so could it really be just dirt?  (We were in Quito, more on that later.)

As the dirt became piles, we realized *something* happened in or to Cuenca over night!

Volcanic ash! A first for us and a rare event for Cuenca.  Dark gray, very fine powder on everything, including the inside of our apartment since we leave windows open all the time.

Sweeping and sweeping and cleaning...and more ash added later in the day. 

One of South America's most active volcanoes, the Tungurahua, is located north about 84 miles SE of Quito. Three explosions and earthquakes rocked the town of Banos and surrounding communities.  Tungurahua, which means 'throat of fire' in Quechua, sent a plume of ash about 6 miles up and hot lava down.  Local pólice and members of the military evacuated folks around the volcano.

Tungurahua has been quiet for awhile.  When it does send out the ash, Cuenca rarely sees it but it depends on  the winds.  Our light dusting this time covered the City, our state of Azuay and several other áreas south.  Cuenca's airport closed as a precaution for a few hours.  Military and fire fighters cleaned the runways.  Workers were also dispatched around the City to clean. 

Free dust masks were available at the Square and pharmacies were doing a good business selling them, too.  The ash made it hard to breathe for some folks.  We also saw folks with faces covered with scarves and bandanas.

We decided to not walk much on this Sunday, why push it.

While looking for volcano news, we learned there are 50 volcanoes in Ecuador!  Most are 'sleeping', thank goodness!

PS -- Volcanic ash is good for your garden.  In the soil, NOT on the plants.


  1. Wow, good thing that does not happen too often, the clean-up looks like a real chore!

  2. Hola Peter, Yes, the clean-up here was messy, but I can't even imagine what the folks are suffering in Banos, Ambato and all the little towns closer to the volcano. Up to 8 inches of ash blanketing the towns, fields and roads. Sounds like a nightmare for residents, animals and crops.

  3. Planning to visit Cuenca in early March. It does not sound like it will impact a trip at this level of impact.

  4. You're right, the ash reaching Cuenca is a very rare event. Depends on the winds. This was the first time we've seen it here, and we've been in Cuenca almost 5 years. Banos and little towns around the volcano, however, are still seeing the ash everywhere. It's an active volcano, for sure!
    Happy travels,