Watch Mexico's Popocatépetl Volcano Erupt Next to a Major City

25 million people around Puebla, Mexico could be affected by the volcanic ash. 

YouTube/ Tecermilenio.TV

Mexico’s Popocatpétl volcano has been periodically erupting since 1994, but in the early hours of Monday morning it put on an especially explosive show, hurling glowing rocks and lava high into the air.

When it erupted, the volcano blanketed the Mexican city of Puebla with thick white volcanic ash, forcing the city’s airport to close and city officials to recommend residents wear masks and stay out of the grit. Popocatépetl is right smack in the middle of two major population centers — it’s about 43 miles Southeast from Mexico City, and less than 30 miles west of Puebla. Puebla has around 1.5 million residents, whose cars, houses, and offices were covered in ash. All told, the volcano is within 62 miles of around 25 million people, although most of the ash seems to have settled around Puebla, rather than the much larger Mexico City. The gritty ash can damage car and plane engines, not to mention people’s lungs.

While Popocatepetl’s eruptions aren’t uncommon — it shot ash and smoke almost a mile into the air earlier this month, a webcam caught the latest eruption in all its fiery glory. Volcano eruption videos aren’t especially common, because waiting on a mountain to do anything requires a lot of patience, but Popcatepetl’s been rumbling all month and local residents were keeping an eye on it.

Check out the initial explosion:

The first blast was pretty big, but it got even more spectacular (especially in black and white) after that.

This is what Puebla’s streets looked like shortly after the eruption.

Roughly translated, the last tweet says that the ash must be swept up and disposed of — if it rains in Puebla, the thick ash can clog city drains.

The eruption began around 2:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time, and the Associated Press reports the ash column rose nearly 3 miles above the crater. The volcano is Mexico’s second-largest mountain, at 17,802 feet tall.

Watch a video of most of the eruption below, or check out the livestreams still watching the volcano here: