Rainfall is increasing in coastal regions as El Niño conditions develop in the Pacific

Jul 14, 2023 | 3 comments

Although experts say the El Niño weather phenomenon is still developing, its early affects are being felt on Ecuador’s coast. Yesterday, the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (Inamhi) said that unseasonal rains, heavy at times, will continue for at least several days.

A resident of northern Manabí Province stands in flood waters outside his home on Wednesday.

The northern coast in Manabí and Esmeraldas Provinces will be the most affected, Inamhi said, but wet conditions are expanding from Colombia in the north to Peru in the south.

Flooding has displaced thousands of families in Esmeraldas and Manabí Provinces in recent weeks and local officials say additional dislocation is likely.

“Not all of the current rainfall is the result of El Niño, which has not fully formed at this point,” Inamhi said in a bulletin. “We are experiencing a flow of moist, high-level winds from the Amazon region to the east, which is fueling much of the precipitation. However, this flow is interacting with the warming waters of the Pacific Ocean to intensify rainfall amounts.”

The National El Niño Study Committee reports that ocean waters are continuing to warm at a rate suggesting a strong El Niño. “There is a warming trend consistent with previous predictions of an intense El Niño but we are still in the early stages of development,” a committee spokeswoman said.

The committee says that a sea-level rise of between 25 and 28 centimeters has been recorded in the Galapagos Islands and on the mainland coast. “We are approaching a 3-degree C. temperature rise in waters off the coasts of Ecuador and Peru and expect the trend to continue,” the spokeswoman added. “We are also seeing the arrival of the Kelvin wave phenomenon, also an indication of the arrival of El Niño,” she said, adding that Kelvin waves have higher tops and shorter intervals and are created by warming ocean waters.

Inamhi is predicting that heavy rains will continue at least through early next week. “Because we expect the upper-level wind flow from the east to subside, rains will probably diminish by Tuesday or Wednesday,” forecasters say. They add, however, that warming ocean waters will produce more rain in the coming days and weeks.

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