Unusually heavy rainfall has caused extensive flooding and loss of life in Peru

Extreme flooding and frequent landslides that occurred this month have forced hundreds from their homes. 

An El Niño like condition with warm ocean waters developed near Peru’s coast. This extremely warm water off Peru’s western coast has been blamed for promoting the development of these storms whilst equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are average elsewhere in the central and east central Pacific. Heavy rainfall  with 72 hours of rainfall accumulated by 00:00 UTC on March 16, 2017  has caused flooding in several regions of Peru, forcing the government to deploy army personnel to help rescue people. After a period of near drought conditions, emergencies due to heavy rains, floods and landslides have been occurring in northern regions of Peru since January 31, 2017.

The worst affected was Lambayeque, northern Peru where the Peruvian Army deployed a helicopter on March 15 to help rescue people trapped by floodwaters. More than 400 people were rescued from rural villages in Jayanca, Illimo and Pacora, the government said.

Defence Minister Jorge Nieto said armed forces will remain in the area to carry out further rescues.

Nationwide, more than 170 000 people have been affected by floods and landslides by February 7.

Peru’s rainy season lasts from November to April. The wettest months are January through April

This image shows the locations of storms that were dropping heavy rainfall over northwestern Peru when the GPM core observatory satellite flew above on March 20, 2017 at 0826 UTC. Data collected by GPM’s Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instruments during this pass revealed that very heavy precipitation was falling in that area. GPM’s radar (DPR Ku Band) data indicated that some storms were dropping rain at the extreme rate of greater than 137 mm (5.4 inches) per hour. These extreme rainfall rates were found in the line of storms extending southwestward from Peru’s coast.
  • Images and caption by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC)

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