Severe weather continues to batter Quito while Cuenca escapes the worst of it

Apr 6, 2019

It’s simply the luck of the draw.

That’s the way the national meteorology institute explains the fact that Cuenca has escaped the floods, landslides and hail storms that have battered Quito and other cities in Ecuador’s sierra region since November.

A March hail storm brought traffic to a standstill in Quito. (El Comercio)

“Cuenca has received more rain than usual this year but has not suffered the weather disasters we are seeing Quito, Riobamba and Ambato,” says Daniel Estes, of the national weather bureau. “Much of it is simply luck since the flooding in Quito is mostly the result of intense thunderstorms. These have occurred in the areas near Cuenca too but they have been outside of the city.”

Since late November, 19 people have been injured and 64 families have been evacuated from their homes in Quito due to the storms.

At least 19 people were injured and another 147 were evacuated there between November 2018 and 2019, as a result of the rains. Nine homes have been completely destroyed while another 151 have been severely damaged, 12 of them historic structures.

According to the national risk management office, 15 families remain in temporary shelters due to the loss of their homes in the Quito canton.

In addition to flooding rains and landslides north of Quito, intense hail storms blocked traffic on several occasions in February and March on city thoroughfares.

Estes says the intensity of this year’s storms is partly the result of the El Niño, classified as moderate, in the Pacific Ocean. “It is difficult to determine how much the El Niño is responsible for the severe weather since this is our rainy season and we expect storms every year. The coastal region has also received above normal rainfall so we believe there is some additional impact.”

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