MEXICO CITY – The Popocatepetl volcano just east of Mexico City has spit out a cloud of ash and vapor 2 miles 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 volcano.

Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention raised the volcano alert from Stage 2 Yellow to Stage 3 Yellow, the final step before a Red alert, when possible evacuations could be ordered.

Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention reported there had been three explosive eruptions at the peak late Friday and early Saturday — events that usually toss glowing-hot rock on the volcano’s flanks. It said that Popocatepetl has also continuously spewed clouds of ash into the air, most of which was headed northwest, toward Mexico City.

On Friday, four airlines canceled a total of 17 flights into Mexico City’s airport “due to climate conditions,” officials said.