The El Niño weather phenomenon has officially arrived in South America, experts report, heralding meteorological chaos around the continent.
Colombia drought has been a recent issue, and it has been accompanied by frosts in the agricultural uplands surrounding Bogota. On the one hand, this has affected the power generation in a country where about 80 per cent is generated by water resources, prompting officials to announce emergency measures including possible rationing. Cali has already seen water rationing in the past month. Frost, meanwhile, will impact on prices.
In Venezuela, the effects are similar, although more attenuated. The energy supply problem could be complicated due to a dependence on hydropower to generate more than half of the country’s electricity, reports newspaper El Espectador.
The effects of El Niño in Ecuador and Peru are felt by region: on the coast it has been raining, even in traditionally dry areas, and there is drought and low temperatures in the highlands, where hydroelectric plants are located.
In the past, episodes of El Niño as intense as this have resulted in landslides on the coast, with loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and major disruptions to transport systems and production, along with a fall in GDP of several percentage points.
In any case, as the economies of the region are begining to recover from the effects of the crisis, it can only be hoped that forecasters predict that this wave of El Niño will be moderate, along with its adverse economic effects.
This is a pertinent reminder that despite technological advances, people are still vulnerable to weather, just as world leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss measures to limit emissions of gases that affect global warming. If they do not succeed, the consequences will be more serious than a couple of spring hailstorms.