So far, 2017 has been a bad year for Peru – weather-wise.
Heavy rain has caused flooding in many parts of the country, while the death toll from floods and mudslides has reached 48 people, including six miners killed in a mudslide in southern Peru.
The early part of the year is when the bulk of the rain falls across the country, but there are huge variations as Peru – twice the size of France and stretching from the equator to 18 degrees south – is vast.
Large climatological and weather variations are to be expected, but topography also has a major influence.
Peru is bounded by the cool Pacific Ocean in the west and the forested lowlands of the Amazon in the east. The central portion of the country includes the Andes, with peaks in excess of 6,000 metres and plateau districts between 3,000 and 4,000m.
Peru floods put thousands in danger
The flooding has generally been worse in the central and northern parts of the country, and although it is consistent with the rainy season of the central and eastern regions, the rainfall has been particularly intense.
Officials have been quoted blaming the intense rain on El Nino, the warming of the surface waters in the eastern pacific.
But this is contrary to the generally agreed idea that we are in a “neutral phase” in the Pacific, with the huge El Nino of 2015/16, giving way to the very weak La Nina for a brief period in the second half of 2016.
Nevertheless, sea surface temperatures are indeed above average in the eastern Pacific, and this is undoubtedly having an impact on the weather in recent months.
The flooding comes off the back of a period of drought across the Andean-Amazon region, and the increasingly extreme nature of the weather in Peru is having a detrimental effect on economic growth, as well as forcing an increase in food prices.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies