MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Popocatepetl volcano just east of Mexico City has spit out a cloud of ash and vapor 2 miles (3 kilometers) high over several days of eruptions, and Mexico City residents awoke Saturday to find a fine layer of volcanic dust on their cars.
It has been years since the center of the nation's capital has seen a noticeable ash fall because prevailing winds usually blow the volcanic dust in other directions. Ash fell earlier this week in some neighborhoods on Mexico City's south and east sides.
The city's legion of car washers quickly wiped the fine coating from cars on Saturday with no apparent ill effects.
Claudia Dominguez, spokeswoman for the Mexico City civil defense office, said the very fine ash had probably been floating around the city from eruptions in previous days and had been brought to Earth by a rainfall late Friday. She said no new ash fall had been reported Saturday, despite continuous eruptions of vapor and ash into the air from the 15,000-foot (5,450 meter) volcano.
While city residents were surprised by the talcum-like ash, inhabitants of towns nearer the volcano have had to deal with much thicker accumulations that have coated their crops, homes and sidewalks.
In San Pedro Nexapa, located about nine miles (15 kms) from the volcano, residents swept up small piles of ash from a few square yards (meters) of sidewalk. Some residents wore surgical masks to ward off the dust raised by passing vehicles.
"The ash affects us a lot, because we get our water from the snow melt from Popocatepetl, and right now we can't use the water for bathing, for cooking, we can't even give it to our animals," said Agustina Perez Gutierrez, a housewife in San Pedro Nexapa. "The children get sore throats from the ash, and it affects the few vegetables and corn crops we are able to plant."