Agency warns El Niño continues to strengthen, says catastrophic flooding and drought are imminent

Sep 22, 2023 | 0 comments

The International Center for Research on the El Niño Phenomenon (Ciifen) says conditions continue to favor a strong El Niño event and urges Ecuador coastal communities to complete disaster preparations.

The 1997-1998 El Niño devasted large areas of the Manabi Province coast.

Earlier this week, the government announced the yellow alert had been upgraded to an orange alert, meaning that preparations should now be in place for the arrival of El Niño.

In its September 20 bulletin, Ciifen said there has been “significant strengthening of El Niño conditions” and further strengthening is expected. It added that flooding rains could arrive on the coast and coastal lowlands sooner than previously expected. “We are advising all interests in the danger zone to prepare their response to the developing circumstances,” it said.

The reason for the quickening development, Ciifen says, is rising ocean temperatures. “Temperatures are 2.8 degrees Celsius above normal and this corresponds to conditions that preceded the 1997-1998 and 1972-1973 El Niños, both of which brought catastrophic flooding to Ecuador and Peru,” Ciifen Director Yolanda González said.

González said that heavy rains could arrive in November and continue through February of 2024.

According to González, coastal areas up to 1,000 meters in elevation should expect flooding rains while areas from 1,000 meters to 1,500 meters could experience a mix of heavy rains and drought. In the sierra, from 1,500 meters elevation upward, residents can expect drought conditions that could affect farming and electric power generation.

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