volcano puyehue chile june 2011Volcano Puyehue emitting it’s ash cloud 6 miles high on June 4th, 2011.  photo:  AFP, Claudio Santana

Bariloche, one of the best ski destinations in the Southern Hemisphere, is covered in ash today. A 2,240 meter tall Chilean volcano named Puyehue erupted yesterday June 4th, 2011 and sent it’s ash cloud 6 miles into the air.  Bariloche is 62 miles directly downwind from that volcano and is feeling the full force of that ash cloud.  The volcano has calmed today and appears to be silent.

Can you even imagine what it would be like to have a volcanic ash cloud block out the sun and make your ski town dark during the middle of the day?  I can’t, but all my buddies in Bariloche can.  It happens all the time down there.

car ash bariloche argentina 2011

Bariloche’s 130,000 inhabitants have been dealing with the few centimeters of ash and soot that has covered their town and blocked out the sun.

This is the fourth Chilean volcano eruption that has covered Bariloche in ash since 2008.  Chile’s chain of around 2,000 volcanoes is the world’s second largest after Indonesia.  50 to 60 volcanos are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active.  Damn.

ash road in bariloche argetina june 2011

Day turned to night via ash on the roads in Bariloche, Argentina.

“It turned dark from 4 p.m. (1900 GMT) and a kind of rain started. We can hear thunders, and you can’t see anything in the streets. There is a two to three centimeters ash accumulation,” Laureana Fuentes, local reporter.

ash clean up in bariloche argentina june 2011 volcano eruption

The Volcano Puyehue’s last major eruption was in 1960 and was accompanied by a 9.5 magnitude Earthquake.


– Officials in Bariloche have declared a state of emergency.

– Several centimeters of black, sand-like ash has covered the city of 130,000 inhabitants.

– Ash to fall on Bariloche for at least 24 hours.

– The Chilean government originally required the evacuation of 600 people but soon widened the evacuation zone to over 3,500 people.

– Argentina’s National Emergency Office said it had recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour before and after the eruption of Puyehue.

– Bariloche’s airport is closed.

– Argentine/Chilean border crossing near Bariloche is closed.

– Argentine officials in La Angostura announced late Saturday that the Andean town of 16,000 people was on “red alert” and residents were urged to ration water use.

– Citizens of Bariloche are encouraged to stay inside their homes, wear masks, and not go outside nor drive cars.

– Chilean officials have labeled this eruption as “moderate.”

lightning in the ash cloud of chilean volcano

A photo of the volcano’s ash cloud at night with lightning going off inside the cloud.

It has been snowing ash since yesterday in Bariloche.  There is something very apocolyptic about these photographs and about the whole scenario in general. The only saving grace is that the people of Patagonia are used to this type of thing.

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