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Snow blankets high elevations of the Cajas

Heavy snow blanketed the higher elevations of the Cajas Mountains overnight Monday. (El Telegrafo)

An unusually heavy snowfall Monday night covered the Cajas Mountains from elevations of 4,200 meters and higher. Personnel at the Cajas National Park, west of Cuenca, estimated that snowfall measured as much as 14 centimeters in some locations.

“Snow in the Cajas is typical in July and August but we were surprised by the amount we received,” said José Cáceres, Cajas National Park biologist, who added that the annual amount of snowfall has declined in recent years.

The official low temperature at the Tres Cruces weather station Tuesday morning was zero celsius (32 Fahrenheit) but Cáceres estimated it was five to six degrees colder in the areas of snowfall. A major concern for those in the area, he said, were high winds with one gust at Tres Cruces clocked at 116 kilometers per hour. On Tuesday morning, park rangers warned hikers to take precautions due to the high winds and icy trail conditions.

The official Tuesday morning low in Cuenca was six celsius.