Environment

Record rainfall, widespread flooding hits Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia



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A severe storm produced very heavy rain and strong winds over parts of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia over the past couple of days, causing widespread flooding and leaving at least 4 people dead.

The storm caused major flooding in northern Argentina, disrupting traffic, submerging cars and forcing thousands to evacuate homes on January 8 and 9, 2019. Winds gusted to 90 km/h (60 mph), downing trees and power poles.

The worst hit cities in Argentina were Corrientes and Resistencia on the Parana River.

Corrientes was hit by 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain in two hours, while Resistencia received the same amount in just 40 minutes.

In 24 hours of January 8, Resistencia received a total of 224 mm (8.8 inches) of rain, breaking its previous 24-hour record of 205.9 mm (8.10 inches) set on March 14, 1994. The amount also exceeded the 174 mm (6.8 inches) average rain it gets in the entire month of January.

Two people died in the country after their vehicle was swept away by an overflowing river in Paso de los Libres, Corrientes. Another person, a young child, died as a result of falling trees in Santiago del Estero.

The Uruguay River could reach danger levels in Concordia, Entre Rios, according to the Salto Grande Joint Technical Commission (CTM).

CTM forecast that levels could reach 11.2 m (36.7 feet), surpassing the 11 m (36 feet) alert level, after heavy rain falling since January 7 and with further rain in the forecast.

The worst affected cities in neighboring Uruguay, after Yi river overflowed and caused severe flooding, are Durazno and Sirandi del Yi. The river stood at 9.95 m (32.6 feet) in the city of Durazno on January 10, up from 9.74 m (31.8 feet) on January 9.

Richard Davies of the FloodList reported flooding along the Uruguay River in Uruguaiana municipality of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul where river levels jumped from 4.36 m (14.3 feet) on January 9 to 6.79 m (22.3 feet) on January 10.

In 24 hours to January 9, Uruguaiana received 329.2 m (12.9 inches) of rain and 497 mm (19.5 inches) in 72 hours.

Davies added that other rivers in the state are also rising, including the Ibirapuita River which already stood above flood level in the city of Alegrete on January 9.

One man was killed after a tree fell on his house in Alegrete.

Around 10 000 people have been affected by heavy rain and flooding in Bolivian departments of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca and Tarija over the past 7 days.

Flood water up to 50 cm (1.6 feet) deep was reported in some homes and several families were evacuated in Santa Cruz department. 

Heavy rain on January 6 damaged crops in Villa Tunari and Puerto Villaroel municipalities of Cochabamba Department. Around 50 homes and several streets in Quechisla District were flooded in Chuquisaca Department, according to FloodList. The rain caused the Pilcomayo River in Tarija Department to overflow, affecting 4 700 people in Yacuiba Municipality.

According to SENAMHI, several rivers in Beni Department are currently at Orange Alert level, with many still rising. The Isiboro River near Gundonovia is currently a Red Alert level.

SENAMHI said flooding is possible in areas close to the towns of Gundonovia, San Miguelito de Isiboro, Puerto San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Pablo, Nueva Vida and Santa Teresa from January 8 to 12, 2019.

Featured image credit: Carlos Medina





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