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Wednesday 8 February 2017

World weather briefs

  • Southern Chile's disastrous bushfires had taken 11 lives, destroyed 1,551 homes and left 6,162 people homeless as of 2 February, when 75 fires were still being fought according to the Pacific Disaster Center. Chilean Government official figures say the fires had already consumed 580,000 hectares by 3 February and $333m funding was already in place for aid (Reuters). Fire brigade chiefs told The Guardian that poor planning contributed to the disaster, including monoculture plantations, too few firebreaks, and not allowing for the hotter drier conditions being brought by climate change.
  • In Peru, severe drought has been replaced by widespread flooding since 30 January, so suddenly that Prime Minister Fernando Zavala told reporters "We definitely were not prepared for this type of thing." (Reuters). As at 8 February, the regions in far NW Peru appear to have been worst hit. In Piura region alone there had been 2 deaths, 18,902 houses flooded, 509 destroyed and 19,000 people affected (Floodlist). A state of emergency has been declared in Piura and the neighbouring regions of Lambayeque and Tumbes. Details of all flooding from Peru’s National Civil Defense Institute are in a 5 February Floodlist report, including many pictures and social media extracts.
  • Severe floods also occurred in SW Colombia on the border with Ecuador through January, subsiding in early February. Eight rivers have burst their banks damaging homes, crops and livestock and affecting at least 25,000 people. Landslides in the mountainous regions have also caused damage. Details from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs are given in this Floodlist report.
  • On a much vaster scale, the flooding disaster in southern Thailand has been continuing for over a month. As of this 2 February Floodlist report, at least 96 people had died, 1.8 million people had been affected, and at least 530,000 houses and a huge amount of infrastructure had been damaged. The rain has been caused by low pressure systems combined with a strong NE monsoon. Up to one metre of rain was recorded in parts of the south between 2 and 8 January, and further heavy rain fell between 16 and 26 January. Flooding has been receding through early February, but Thailand's Ministry of Public Health is now concerned about the rise in flood-related diseases.
  • Over the border in Peninsular Malaysia there has also been extensive flooding. As with Thailand, there have been two main waves of heavy rain with the heaviest, from 23 January, causing rivers to flood displacing about 12,000 people. Since the beginning of February, rivers began to recede and about 80% of people returned to their homes, but many rivers remain at critical levels and further heavy rain is forecast for this week. (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)*  - pdf.)
  • Three waves of heavy rain from low pressure systems, on 16, 22 and 27 January, have brought extensive flooding to Visayas and Mindanao islands in the Philippines. A report by IFRC on 6 February stated there had been nine deaths, and over 1,300 houses had been damaged. At least 334,000 people had been displaced to evacuation centres or to live with relatives or friends. Over 1.5 million people have been affected by the flooding since it began. Further moderate to heavy rain in thunderstorms is forecast from 13 February, but at present there are no flood warnings current. (Floodlist).