The National Institute of Meteorology (INAMHI) says near-record high temperatures in the inter-Andean valley will continue until Thursday or Friday. On Monday, the mercury hit 25 (77F) in Quito and 26 (79F) in Cuenca and similar highs are forecast for Wednesday.
Of more concern, according to INAMHI, are the high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. “UV levels will be in 10 to 12 range during peak daylight hours throughout the central valley, which is considered extremely high, and we urge residents to protect themselves,” a INAMHI bulletin advised. The bulletin continued, suggesting residents wear long-sleeve shirts, use parasols and apply sunblock with a protection index of 50 or higher.
For the Cuenca area, INAMHI said high temperatures could reach 30 or 31 degrees (86 to 88F) in low-lying areas such as Challuabamba. Officially, the highest temperature ever recorded in Cuenca is 28 (82F).
Cuenca fire chief Patricio Lucero said the high temperatures and low humidity create conditions favorable for wildfires. “We urge resident to avoid all types of outdoor burning due to the very high fire risk,” he said. “We have controlled the fires that burned last week near Turi and Tarqui but new ones developed on Monday.
He added that a fire burning in the Cajas Mountains near Molleturo has consumed more than 1,000 hectares and could burn for another week. “We are unable to put firefighters on the ground due to the terrain and can only combat the fire through water drops from aircraft.”