Coastal Girl | Rains, thunders and droughts: what events await us and what is their relationship with this climatic phenomenon? | LIME

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Six northern regions of the country entered a week ago state of emergency for 60 days due to imminent danger from droughts. There are 181 districts of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca and Áncash reached by the water deficit caused by La Niña Costera. But if the north lacks water, in Lima it had three days of rain – including thunder and lightning in Chosica and Huaral – and in the mountains moderate and intense rainfall will continue at least until tomorrow in ten regions.

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In Peru, the La Niña phenomenon caused by the cooling of the sea surface temperature has two scenarios, Coastal La Niña and Central Pacific La Niña, with reverse effects for the north coast and the central and southern highlands of the country. If the first causes drought due to reduced rainfall, with the second, more moderate to strong rainfall is expected.

Opposite situations

Dimitri Gutiérrez, technical coordinator of the National Study of the El Niño Phenomenon – ENFEN, explains that this institution remains on alert for the Coastal La Niña, but its intensity is expected to decrease before next year. This climatological event, characterized by the lack of rainfall, began in September. “Now it has weak conditions that would be culminating towards the end of the year and we would be experiencing normal conditions for summer 2021”, He explained to El Comercio.

The decrease in rainfall has effects on the storage of water in the reservoirs in the north of the country.  (Photo: Midagri)

The decrease in rainfall has effects on the storage of water in the reservoirs in the north of the country. (Photo: Midagri)

However, with the La Niña of the Central Pacific, the probability is that from January to March the event will be accentuated with higher than normal rains for the central and southern highlands and the Amazon. Grinia Ávalos, Deputy Director of Climate Prediction at Senamhi, maintains that it was only in April that conditions would normalize for these areas of the country. “We are entering a period of maximum rains, events have already occurred in December, and this will be repeated periodically because we are also entering the summer and rainy season”, Indian.

In dialogue with this newspaper, the specialist warned that the moderate and strong La Niña conditions in the Central Pacific this season had not been repeated since 2010 and 2011. “There have been other events, even prior to Niño Costero, but with weak conditions”, Held.

Despite the water deficit conditions in the north of the country, in recent days there have been heavy rains. According to Ávalos, this responds to a transfer phenomenon. “There were significant rains towards the eastern side that have managed to pass to the western side and the rains have been generated in the middle, lower and upper parts. It is just what we expected so that the storage volume of the reservoirs affected by the periods of no rain can be progressively reversed “, he pointed.

According to the last report of the National Center for Estimation, Prevention and Reduction of Disaster Risk (CENEPRED)Due to the rain forecast for the months of January to March in the central and southern highlands of Peru, a total of 80 districts are estimated at very high risk of possible mass movements (huaicos, landslides, among others). More than 707 thousand people live in these areas and there are 273 thousand hectares of agricultural land.

Area of ​​influence of rainfall in the central and southern highlands forecast for the summer of 2021. Source: Cenepred

Area of ​​influence of rainfall in the central and southern highlands forecast for the summer of 2021. Source: Cenepred

Drought prevention

It is estimated that 97% of the water consumed in the north of the country comes from the rains. The reduction of these can be disastrous for the population, agriculture and livestock. “If El Niño is destructive with floods and overflows, La Niña in the north is the opposite radical with rivers with the lowest flow and dams with less capacity ”, explains Patricio Valderrama, representative of the National Water Authority (ANA), attached to the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Midagri). In dialogue with this newspaper, the specialist indicated that, to prevent the effects of the absence of rain, containment actions have been taken since July to improve the use of groundwater. For example, he mentioned the improvement of 100 wells to be carried out in the Chicama Valley, in La Libertad, to benefit 254 users and 1,376 hectares of crops. As reported by Midagri last October, for the maintenance of these wells it has an investment of S / 595,900 in order to guarantee the supply of water for irrigation, mainly, in crops of bread, corn husk and sugar cane.

This was the scenario for the water deficit areas in November 2020. Source: Cenepred.

This was the scenario for the water deficit areas in November 2020. Source: Cenepred.

“We have started a communication campaign against the water deficit so that, for example, water is not wasted in carnivals”Valderrama added.

Given the impact of the rain deficit in the agricultural sector, Alberto García, advisor to the FAO Representation (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) in Peru points out that it is necessary to improve the management of water resources in the headwaters watershed to guarantee the equitable distribution of the resource. “It is necessary to improve water governance for a transparent use of water resources with the participation of all stakeholders. Prepared contingency plans are needed for the entire northern zone. From time to time it is known that El Niño or La Niña is coming and there should be no impact. Lambayeque ranchers are losing a lot “he told this newspaper.

Regarding the impact of La Niña del Pacífico Central on crops in the central and southern highlands of Peru, the agronomist Luz Gómez Pando, head of the Cereals and Native Grains Program of the La Molina National Agrarian University (UNAML), pointed out to this newspaper that “excess humidity could affect the development of cereals and quinoa, which do not thrive well in flooded areas.” The specialist in the area added that in these weather conditions the problems of diseases in these crops are also accentuated “and their presence can reach levels of ecological damage.”

Differences between El Niño and La Niña.  Source: ANA

Differences between El Niño and La Niña. Source: ANA

Stage in Lima

In the capital, the rains began to register from Monday. Yesterday, the event was accompanied by thunder and lightning in Chosica, Cieneguilla and Chacnay, in Huaral. Nelson Quispe, deputy director of Meteorological Prediction of Senamhi., Explains that these precipitations respond to the fact that the Pacific slope “It is still very loaded with moisture”, a situation that is related to the Central Pacific Girl.

“The rains from Canta towards the high areas of Cañete have been occurring more or less since December 28 almost daily. But it reached a maximum peak on Monday that even the humidity reached the coast, where rains were registered in the city ”, he told El Comercio.

The specialist adds that these events will continue to be repeated as we approach summer, whose normal characteristic is rainfall in the upper areas of Lima and the central highlands. “The rains begin to increase from January to the fortnight of March”, Quispe needs.

The Senamhi also keeps the meteorological warning of moderate to strong rainfall in Áncash, Cajamarca, Huancavelica, Huánuco, Junín, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Lima, Pasco and Piura until Friday, December 11, followed by scattered rain on the coast.

And the huaicos in Lima?

Summer rains are associated with huaicos, especially in the Sierra de Lima. Juan Carlos Gómez, scientific researcher at the Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP), explained that the occurrence of these events depends on the intensity of the rains that occur during the summer in the upper parts of the department of Lima. “It can rain for a week for intercalated days and maybe the water infiltrates the streams or it rains very hard one day for five hours so that it saturates and the huaicos are formed,” he explained.

In dialogue with this newspaper, he pointed out that the Huaicos Monitoring System, installed in the Jicamarca streams, is prepared to notify Sedapal up to 12 minutes in advance of a huaico in order to avoid damage to the La Atarjea Plant, which provides water to Lima. “We have infrared cameras that allow us to view the event upstream even at night. With this we can detect the event at a certain distance to warn not only Sedapal, but also Indeci and the population. Depending on the density of the huaico, it can be 10 to 12 minutes, ”he said.

However, the commissioning of a meteorological radar is expected to accurately determine the areas where heavy rainfall will be recorded to anticipate huaicos. “In a radius of 50 kilometers in a radius, it scans the raindrops at different heights and depending on this, we will be able to know the amount of water that will fall to the ground,” he said. This radar could start operating in the second half of 2021.

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