San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A hailstorm frosted Irazú Volcano on Friday

Meteorologists were expecting heavy rains Friday, but instead the country received a rare hailstorm that left Irazú National Park covered in white.

Alejandra Varela, a park official for the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), photographed the aftermath of the unusual phenomenon, and Irazú Volcano SINAC shared the photo on its Facebook. The photo, however, did lead to some debate about what to call the frosty material on the ground.

One Facebook commenter wrote on the photo: “I’m informing you that the white stuff is called snow, not hail.” The Irazú Volcano SINAC Facebook account responded: “Thank you. It’s difficult for us to give it an accurate term because this has never happened in the park.”

In another comment on Facebook, the Irazú Volcano SINAC account wrote: “We’ve had frost in the early hours of the morning and when the temperature goes down to 0 degrees Celsius. What happened yesterday was during the afternoon, and the temperature was between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius. We are still collecting official data.”

We’ll update the story once SINAC settles the controversy. Either way, Irazú Volcano has had a star-making past couple days. On the same day the hailstorm occurred, Sony debuted a dazzling ad that showed the Cartago volcano gushing out 8 million flower petals.

UPDATE: A forecaster at the National Meteoroligical Institute confirmed to La Nación that no snow fell in Costa Rica on Friday, and all the frost was left by the hailstorm.

SINAC ceded the issue to the meteorologists, citing the La Nación article on their Facebook page: “We thank everyone for their comments and the follow-up that has been conducted on this phenomenon, as our staff are not skilled in this area.” The park saw an uptick in the number of visitors to the park Saturday, with 400 people coming to observe the icy grounds.

The park service also shared one more photo taken by Varela of the ice-covered park:


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