Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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Volcano Poás National Park opened for a few hours

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After 24 hours of observation, during which there was a decrease in seismicity and in volcanic gases (CO2, SO2), the representatives of the National Commission of Emergencies recommended that Poás Volcano National Park* reopen to visitors at 7:00 a.m.  However, due to changes wind direction at 11 a.m. specialists again closed to access the volcano as a precautionary measure.

Guillermo Alvarado, a volcanologist of the emergency commission, said that the wind direction changed and “moved towards the sector of the viewpoint, so that in all the installations ash and gas precipitations are present." 

Other specialists of the Volcanology Technical Advisory Committee said that monitoring of the volcano’s activity will continue and that they will announce today if access to the park will be reopened.

The park was closed for 16 months and only reopened in Sept 2018.

As was reported yesterday in A.M. Costa Rica, the National Emergency Commission and the park rangers at the
Poás Volcano National Park* closed access to the park due to the continued eruptions that were first registered at dawn on Monday, Feb 11.

"We have agreed to close for 24 hours due to the constant eruptive activity,” said the Commission in its press release on Monday. The specialists will continue to monitor and observe the volcano to determine when the park can safely reopen

Observers at the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica reported that constant eruptive activity at the Poás Volcano was recorded from 1:51 a. m. on Monday. The surveillance cameras recorded incandescence and a lot of gases escaping from the volcano in addition to several eruptions during which the volcano tossed rocks 50 to 100 meters into the air.

The Ministry of Health reported that communities like Grecia*, Sarchí* and Naranjo* reported the smell of sulfur and volcanic smog in the reddish sky. The smog, say experts, is the product of a combination of volcanic gases, acid rain, fine ash and volcanic aerosols.

This smog or volcanic fog can cause irritation in people with respiratory problems. Symptoms include a cough, irritated or watery eyes, headaches and in general, a cold sensation.

Specialists of the Ministry of Health and the Commission of Emergencies asked that people increase prevention measures during the eruptions.

They also made this series of recommendations regarding ash fall for villages in the vicinity of the volcano: 

* To reduce exposure to ash, keep all doors and windows in your home or work center closed whenever possible.

* If you are in an area where there is ash fall, use respiratory protection, a mouth cover or a common surgical mask.

* If no mask is available, an improvised cloth mask will filter the larger ash particles. Moistening the fabric with water will improve its effectiveness.

* People with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and other respiratory diseases are advised to stay inside buildings and avoid unnecessary exposure to ash. The same precautions are advised for newborns and the elderly.

* Use glasses instead of contact lenses to protect the eyes from irritation.

* Use no treatments for any ash related irritation without medical advice as these can increase the risk of an emotional sequel and produce side effects.

Volcanological Observatory courtesy photo

National Park reopen to visitors at 7:00 a.m. but due to changes wind direction at 11 a.m. specialists again closed to access the volcano as a precautionary measure.

* Once the volcanic ash has settled, carefully moisten the ash with water and collect it. Do not forget to wear a mask while cleaning.

With regard to those who had purchased a ticket to Poás Volcano National Park but could not gain entry, Regional Directorate of the Central Conservation Area is offering a refund of the entry fee or alternative entry date.

In order to request a refund or to reschedule the visit, please send an email to:, attach a copy of ID and bank account number to receive the refund.

Due to the constant activity of the volcanos Rincon de la Vieja* in Guanacaste, Turrialba* in Cartago and Poás, the National Emergency Commission urged that the public respect the access restrictions that have been implemented near the craters.

Park rangers have stated that, during the holidays, people put their lives and the lives of the rangers at risk by entering the sites near the volcanos which were in constant eruption. Visitors went to the volcanos by unapproved routes and during hours outside the daily schedule, the rangers said. They reminded the public that people entering areas at the volcanos illegally will be fined.

Access to
Turrialba* Volcano has also been prohibited even though it already has anti-ballistic shelters. Those shelters were built to minimize the danger because of the constant activity of the volcano. They provide shelter for tourists and for of the Emergency Commission, the National Seismological Network, the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory and the Electricity Institute. These specialists frequently climb to the top to maintain the volcanic surveillance equipment and communication towers which are within the “danger radius,” the area where rocks were thrown from the volcano often land.

Guillermo Alvarado, a volcanologist of the emergency commission, said, "volcanic eruptions cannot be avoided, but the risk can be minimized, that is, trying to reduce vulnerability. However, the protection of these shelters is partial since in the event of the fall of large stones or a large eruption, the structures are not enough."

The Volcanological Institute said that Turrialba Volcano began its eruptive period on Jan. 5, 2010, but intensified it beginning on Oct. 29, 2014, and has continued it to the present.  Its nine years of eruptive activity and more than four years of regular activity keep it closed to the public until further notice. 

Should the emergency commission close access to the other volcanoes as well? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to:

*Link to reach the source.

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