Heavy rains and high tides inundated several communities on Ecuador’s coast and weather forecasters report that El Niño conditions are strengthening. Landslides were reported in several locations, blocking highways and destroying houses.
Much of the city of Esmeraldas was covered in up to 20 centimeters of water on Monday, and heavy rains and high tides flooded large areas of Guayaquil and Manta.
The National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (Inamhi) said that the heavy rains were the result of rising sea water temperatures due to El Niño. “This contributes to very intense rain,” said Carlos Naranjo, Inamhi director. He added that residents should expect more of the same, with storms lasting from 24 to 48 hours, causing rivers rivers to overflow their banks, flooding cropland.
The rains flooded streets and low-lying residential neighborhoods in Guayaquil for the third time in a week and firefighters were called to rescue stranded motorists and evacuate families trapped by high water.
In Esmeraldas, two exits to the city were blocked by landslides which required the evacuation of 140 families due to the overflow of the Esmeraldas, Shua, Santiago, Teone, and Mataje rivers. Authorities said heavy rain lasted for 12 hours in the area.
In Santa Elena and Los Rios Provinces, in the south, high wave action washed through several neighborhoods, forcing residents to leave their homes. Flooding rivers destroyed crops in Los Rios, according to the local emergency services offices. In Salinas and La Libertad, piles of mud and sand were left on several streets due to overwash.
Meanwhile, much of the mountain region, including Cuenca, enjoyed mostly sunny weather and utilities official say the area needs rain. ETAPA, Cuenca’s public utility company, says that water rationing is still possible if significant rainfall is not received in the Cajas Mountains.