Webcam capture of the eruption of Popocatépetl at 20:19 local time on May 7, 2013. Image: By Erik Klemetti, using Tlamacas webcam / CENAPRED I don't have a lot of details right now, but it seems that an explosive eruption has started at Popocatépetl outside of Mexico City. The restless Mexican volcano has been producing steam-and-ash plumes intermittently over the past year, but tonight there is a significant ash plume accompanied by large incadescent blocks being thrown down the slopes of the volcano. All of this is based on webcam images from the 4 cameras pointed at Popocatépetl -- @chemtierra captured a great sequence of three shots (see below) that show the growing ash column and eventual explosion that occurred at ~20:14 PM local time in Mexico. I grabbed a shot from 5 minutes after the initial explosion that shows the shower of blocks from the crater (see above). The ash plume has been spotted as high as ~7.6 km / 25,000 feet heading to the southeast according to the latest Washington VAAC update. However, the first local reports put the ash plume at ~3.2 km / 10,500 feet. Before this activity, CENAPRED had the volcano on Yellow-Level 2 alert status.
A trio of webcam captures showing the growing eruption on May 7, 2013 from Popocatépetl, taken (from left to right) at 20:03, 20:06 and 20:14. Image: By @chemtierra using Tlamacas webcam / CENAPRED. You can follow the action on one of the Popocatépetl webcams -- probably the best right now is the Tlamacas webcam. A nighttime eruption can sometimes make an eruption seem more significant than it is, thanks to the glowing blocks being thrown from the crater. However, with so little information so far from Mexico, it is hard to tell if this is typical for the recent activity at Popocatépetl or something somewhat larger. I'll try to update this post as information arrives.