Lima – the mild rainless desert city, but for how long? Winters have been growing colder and wetter, summers arriving later than ever.
This week alone, supposedly the first full week of the first month of summer if we discount November – a time when most of the population of Lima usually heads to the beach – has seen 50% of Lima’s typical annual rainfall after an already wet winter.
Heavy cloud cover and mild rain that hadn’t stopped in days turned to heavier rain on the night of the 8th of January. From 7p.m. until 10a.m. the next morning as much as 3 litres of rain fell – 5 litres is 50% of the yearly average according to Peru’s weather service.
The rain turned many of Lima’s principle thoroughfares into rivers, while many of the city’s flat roofs risked collapsing.
In a city where it never rains, streets have no drainage whatsoever, and buildings, particularly those built in colonial times, have flat roofs that also have no drainage.
Large stretches of the Via Expresa, the Costa Verde and central Lima’s Av. España found themselves under deep water, in parts knee-high.
In Comas in the north, S.J.M and S.J.L, 40 families were left homeless as their roofs collapsed.
Francisco Aramayo, engineer from the Peruvian School of Engineers explains that changing weather patterns need for changing customs: “We need homes to be built with sloping roofs to help drain accumulated water, and the authorities need to install drainage systems in the streets”.
Norma Yarrow, representative of the Municipality of Lima, explains that plans are now being drawn up for the city to cope with the changing climate.
Especialists from the various institutions that form part of the National Study of the El Niño Phenomenon state that the country is currently under the affect of a small unexpected El Niño. A warm ocean current from the Pacific (Kevin current) is forcing its way towards Peru’s central coast where it is colliding with the cold Homboldt current from the south, a collision that causes the formation of clouds.
More rain is expected in the coming week.