It has been three days, since the Pico Bonito mysterious steam clouds were first seen. At first we all thought that it was a fire in the jungle clad mountains just north of La Ceiba in Honduras. However it is now clear that this is not the case. The clouds are emanating from a peak that is at approximately 1,400 meters above sea level. Rather that diminishing, these steam clouds seem to be getting more and more visible. From what I can tell, the source is within the municipality of La Ceiba, within the watershed of the Danto River. One thing is clear to eyesight: the fumaroles are not coming from Pico Bonito peak. But rather from an area East of the peak within Pico Bonito National Park.
It appears that it could be within the micro water shed to the Rio La Ausencia. In any case, it is in an isolated area with no roads or trails. The day before yesterday, a multidisciplinary group took to the task of hiking to the site to investigate the phenomenon. However, they were clearly not prepared and had to abort their mission. The excuse was that rain was in the forecast and that they were not prepared for rain, however I believe that they were not prepared for the rough and demanding conditions they met. We have not seen a good rain in months here! Make no mistake, the area is about as pristine as it can get. It is also very steep, and full of wild animals, including Jaguars, Tapirs and of course, many and varied snakes!
The mission plan changed to fly over the site and measure the atmosphere for different elements. From the air, it appears that this is steam coming from new springs that just sprouted within the mountains. After doing some research, I found out that in February 1998 a similar fumarole sprouted further west of the current location. It simply died down after a few days. Older people in La Ceiba recall that from time to time, these Pico Bonito mysterious steam clouds appear.
Whatever it is, there is much speculation and very little factual, scientific information. Copeco is working on getting a team to the site with proper instruments to measure the temperature and the different gasses that are sprouting from the ground. In any case, there is really no need for alarm and no imminent danger to the population seems evident. The site is not that close to La Ceiba, and the dominant winds go from east to west, so the city of La Ceiba really has nothing to worry about for the time being.