Guatemala’s La Aurora International Airport has been temporarily closed after unfavorable wind conditions carried ash from the nearby and active Pacaya volcano, according to the Guatemalan Civil Aviation Authority.
The Civil Aviation Authority announced the shutdown on Twitter, claiming it made the decision following the “change in direction of the wind from south to north and increased volcanic activity in the Pacaya and the increased ash fall ”.
The 2,569-meter (about 8,428-foot) volcano is located about 48 kilometers (29 miles) south of the airport and has been active in recent weeks.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the measure was taken following the recommendation of the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) which announced the increase in volcanic ash in many areas. many regions of the capital.
In a video posted to his Twitter account, Civil Aviation Director Francis Argueta said the duration of the shutdown was unclear, but authorities “hope to resume airport operations as soon as possible. “.
Volcanic ash clouds pose a serious hazard to aviation, reducing visibility, damaging flight controls and ultimately causing jet engines to fail.
Encounters between airplanes and volcanic ash can occur because ash clouds are difficult to distinguish from ordinary clouds, both visually and on radar, according to the US Geological Survey. Ash clouds can also drift great distances from their source.
Ingestion of volcanic ash by engines can cause severe deterioration in engine performance due to erosion of moving parts and partial or complete blockage of fuel nozzles.
Volcanic ash contains particles with a melting point lower than the internal temperature of an engine. During flight, these particles will immediately melt if they pass through an engine. As it passes through the turbine, the molten material cools rapidly, sticks to the turbine blades and disrupts the flow of high pressure combustion gases.
CNN’s Kara Fox and Paul Armstrong contributed to this report.