Videos claiming Taal Volcano’s eruption turned out to be thunderstorms

June 19, 2020 - 12:53 PM
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The Taal Volcano spews ash as it continues to errupt in Tagaytay City, Philippines, January 14, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Fears about the possible Taal Volcano eruption surfaced anew after videos of lightning near the area made rounds Thursday night.

Last January, the world saw the Philippines’ small, active Taal Volcano emitting huge plumes of ash that spread across Luzon and other nearby countries. Subsequently, alert level 4 was raised over the nearby areas and this lasted for weeks.  

After the volcano alert level has been lowered to 1, authorities reported that the calamity left a hefty P3.2 billion worth of damage in agriculture at its wake.  

On Thursday, some Facebook users shared video clips of lightning seen from afar which they claimed to be near or around the Taal Volcano raising speculations of another looming volcano eruption.

“Taal” trended on Twitter late Thursday following the social media posts.

One Facebook page captioned its post of the clip with: “Just in: Taal volcano pumuputok na naman?” 

JUST IN: TAAL VOLCANO PUMUPUTOK NA NAMAN?

JUST IN: TAAL VOLCANO PUMUPUTOK NA NAMAN?

Posted by Talino Warriors on Thursday, June 18, 2020

 

However, the state-run Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology did not announce an imminent eruption and did not raise the volcano alert level of Taal Volcano from the current level 1.  

Instead, the state weather bureau issued thunderstorm advisories on the same day.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has been issuing thunderstorm advisories on its social media account since 2 p.m. of June 18 that cover the following areas: Metro Manila and the provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal and Quezon.  

Around 8 p.m. of Thursday, PAGASA reported that thunderstorms were also experienced in Nueva Ecija and some parts of Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga. 

Each advisory described a thunderstorm as “moderate to heavy rain showers with lightning and strong winds” that lasted for two hours.  

After the thunderstorms stopped, PAGASA advised the public to keep themselves updated through social media.   

“All are advised to take precautionary measures against the impacts associated with these hazards which include flash floods and landslides. Keep monitoring for updates,” it said.  

Some Twitter users who claimed to live near Taal Volcano also denounced those spreading the videos and causing panic online.  

Another user even shared a photo to disprove the rumors about the volcano’s explosion.  

“The lightning is nowhere near the general direction of the volcano, as seen in the photo attached. No mushroom cloud formation, no tremors or smell of sulfur in the air. Madami nang fake news, wag nang dagdagan pa,” the user said.  

PAGASA declared the start of the rainy season in the Philippines last June 12. Two tropical cyclones have since arrived and left the country this year, these are locally named “Ambo” and “Butchoy.”  

Still Alert Level 1 

Phivolcs also issued a new advisory on the Taal Volcano and still maintained the alert level 1, which is second to the lowest signal.  

Based on Phivolcs’ criteria, alert level 1 means “low level seismicity, fumarolic, other activity. 

The interpretation of it is: “Magmatic, tectonic or hydrothermal disturbance; no eruption imminent.” 

Phivolcs stated that the Taal Volcano Network recorded five volcanic earthquakes for the past 24 hours starting from June 18.  

“In the past 24-hour period, the Taal Volcano Network recorded five volcanic earthquakes that are associated mainly with rock-fracturing processes beneath and around the edifice. Weak steaming or fumarolic activity that drifted southwest was observed from vents in the Main Crater and fissure vents along the Daang Kastila Trail,” the agency said.  

Last April, the keyword “Taal” also trended on local Twitter after Phivolcs recorded several earthquakes in Batangas which is near Taal Volcano.

RELATED: ‘Taal’ trends online after reports of minor quakes in Batangas province