Just 10 days ago, Cuenca’s four rivers were flowing at near-record lows. “On most years, the rainy season begins in early February,” says meteorologist Franklin Vera. “I’ve been asking, when is it going to start?”
He got his answer Sunday and since then heavy rain has pummeled most of Ecuador.
Ecuador’s coast has been hardest-hit, with intese rains inundating Guayaquil, Machala, Salinas and Esmeraldas. Houses and cars were damaged in several cities and Guayaquil’s international airport has been closed on three occasion due to flooding and visibility problems. The country’s meteorology institute recorded record amounts of rainfall at four weather stations since last Monday.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, flooding rains hit Cuenca, affecting more than 100 homes and stopped traffic on several major roadways. The heaviest rain, accompanied by damaging lightning strikes and hail, came Friday afternoon. City emergency workers helped evacuate residents from flooded houses near the Orquídeas, Visorrey and Uncovía neighborhoods while several businesses in the industrial park reported water damage. Av. Las Americas was blocked in three locations during the storm and several vehicles stalled out attempting to drive through deep water.
In addition to flooding, electric power was knocked out to more than 25,000 customers due to lightning strikes. The city’s internet providers also reported service disruptions.
According to Meteorologist Vera, the rainy season should continue through most of the country through March and April. “The duration varies by region,” he said. “Some of the arid areas in the southwest and on the coast should see the rain tapering off in late March while it will continue through April in the sierra.” He added that March and April are historically, Cuenca’s wettest months.
The Cuenca fire department is warning resident to stay away from river banks during high flow. It said that five people died last year when the fell into rivers following heavy rains.