Following the intense droughts and wild fires caused by the “El Niño” phenomenon, Colombia predicts the arrival of “La Niña” phenomenon, which means heavy rains and potential flooding and landslides around the Andean nation.
Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) Wednesday issued a report stating that the conditions in the pacific ocean indicate the early stages of the phenomenon La Niña.
According to Ideam director Ricardo Lozano, the likelihood that La Niña will hit Colombia has jumped from 30% to 60% in the last month. Lozano stressed that the intensity of the impact that the impact the phenomenon will have on the country is unclear.
However if La Niña does hit Colombia, rainfall significantly above recorded averages would to be expected from August 2010 through til early 2011 in the country’s Caribbean and Andean regions.
“In these circumstances, all plans and production activities in the country should be advanced or changed,” said Lozano.
In the worst case scenario, extreme flooding and landslides are predicted and it is likely that the excess precipitation will affect coffee harvests and livestock diseases.
The phenomenon is also expected to affect the health and transport sectors, with health officials being warned to prepare for a potential increases in viral diseases like colds and lung ailments. The island of San Andres will have to prepare for increased likelihood of a hurricanes.
The phenomenon of “La Niña” is produced by a low temperature in the Pacific Ocean, combined with increased trade winds, which result in rainclouds being swept from the sea towards the interior of the continent. This phenomenon has been repeated every 24 or 36 months in the last 15 years and experts say it is to be expected after a dry season like the one Colombia just experienced. It is so far unproven to result from global climate change.
Colombia experienced a particularly dry period in the first months of 2010, due to the El Niño phenomenon. Drought scorched the Colombian countryside, and unusually high temperatures of over 40 degrees were recorded around the country and resulted in scores of forest fires that wiped out 65,591 hectares of forests, plains and plateaus.
So far this rainy season some 90,000 Colombians have been affected by adverse weather conditions due to flooding, overflowing rivers and landslides.