Northwestern South America remains at risk for downpours, life-threatening flooding and mudslides rest of February
By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 16, 2019, 10:06:47 AM EST
In the wake of the recent deadly flooding and mudslides, there are no immediate signs of relief from downpours targeting northwestern South America on a daily basis.
Showers and thunderstorms are expected to erupt daily across Peru, Ecuador, northern Bolivia and Brazil through late February. Generally, the afternoon and evening hours will be the most active time of the days.
"This is the wet season for the region, but the weather has been more active than a typical summer," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.
Many communities have recorded above-normal rainfall during the first half of February, and the onslaught of heavy rain turned deadly.
President Martin Vizcarra reported on Monday that flooding and mudslides from recent rain are being blamed for the deaths of at least 10 people across Peru, according to UPI. Hundreds of others suffered losses.
Most of the damage due to mudslides was in the southern regions of Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna.
Flooded rivers have also reportedly damaged bridges, highways, health centers, police stations and schools. Damaged roads have slowed the arrival of aid to the affected areas.
At least one death and hundreds of evacuations have also been reported in northern Chile.
Around Peru, there are no signs of relief from the downpours in the near future.
"Peru, Ecuador, northern Bolivia and Brazil should stay active through the end of February, so the threat remains for isolated flooding and mudslides," Miller said, "and where that flooding happens, more downpours can affect rescue operations."
The drenching thunderstorms are being fueled by the abundant moisture that is present across the region and energy from the late-summer sun, according to Miller.
"Between 75 and 125 mm (3 and 5 inches) of rain can be unleashed from any heavy thunderstorm in the mountains," he said.
That rain can trigger flooding and mudslides, especially where the ground is already saturated, and put more lives and property in peril.
Residents living in areas prone to either danger should remain vigilant and be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Heed all advice from local officials.
Communities along streams and rivers that flow out of the mountains can endure flooding even without getting hit by heavy rain. Runoff from the mountains can flow downstream and cause significant rises on these waterways.
When the summer outlook forecast was released in November, AccuWeather long-range meteorologists warned that frequent bouts of heavy rain across the northern Andes could trigger flooding and mudslides as El Niño conditions develop.
El Niño is part of a routine cycle of water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean that can affect the weather around the globe.
On Thursday, NOAA declared that a weak El Niño has commenced.
As is typical, Lima, Peru, and other coastal locations in northwestern South America will continue to escape the downpours through the end of the month.
"Residents and visitors, however, may notice clouds from the inland thunderstorms streaming overhead and dimming the sun at times," said Miller.
While February may not offer much relief from the downpours, March can be a different story.
"As is typical when we head into fall, a noticeable turn to drier weather is expected next month," Miller stated.
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