Ecuador’s Secretariat of Risk Management (Sngr) has added two inland provinces to the yellow alert warning zone for potential damage from the developing El Niño weather system in the Pacific Ocean. Los Ríos and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas Provinces join Esmeraldas, Manabí, Guayas, Santa Elena, El Oro in the area designated as “high risk.”
Sngr reported that heavy rain continued through the weekend in the seven affected provinces causing multiple road closures due to flooding and landslides. Flooding was particularly intense in Los Rios, where more than 100 houses were inundated by heavy rains that began Friday.
The main highway connecting Quito and the coast was closed Saturday due to a landslide but reopened Sunday morning.
World Meteorological Organization forecasters predict that there is a 75 to 80 percent chance that an El Niño will form within the next three months, bringing heavy rain and flooding to coastal regions of South and Central America and to some parts of North America.
El Niño is a naturally occurring weather event that warms the ocean surface, raising sea surface temperatures to above average in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It is often associated with dry winter conditions in southeastern Africa and northern Brazil and wetter conditions along the Gulf coast of the U.S.