The people of Peru have suffered from what many consider to be the worst flooding in nearly three decades.
Days of relentless torrential downpour carrying 10 times more rainfall than normal over a short amount of time have sent catastrophic flash floods and mudslides — destroying public roads and highways, ravaging countless homes, and claiming many lives — over the usually drought-stricken areas of the South American country.
Peru Flood Leaves 67 Dead, 115,000 Homeless
According to latest reports, at least 67 people have died and more than 115,000 locals have been left without a home. The government of Peru has declared half of the Andean nation in a state of emergency. This way, relief operations can be sent immediately to the most affected areas.
"We've never seen anything like this before. From one moment to the next, sea temperatures rose and winds that keep precipitation from reaching land subsided," Jorge Chavez, a general acting as a spokesperson for the government, said.
NASA Satellite Data
Experts from NASA are using advanced data from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission to understand the storm systems in Peru. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
The images of the newest bouts of storms that hit Peru on March 20 were captured by GPM's core observatory satellite. Based on the data gathered by GPM's Microwave Imager and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar instruments during one of the satellite's flybys over Peru, an extremely high precipitation rate of 137 millimeters or 5.4 inches per hour was falling in that area.
The satellite data was made into an animation at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and showed real-time IMERG rainfall estimates based on data collected during the period from March 14 to 21, 2017.
'Coastal El Niño'
The phenomena, dubbed "coastal El Niño" by Peruvian meteorologist Abraham Levy, was not seen until almost a century ago in 1925.
This extremely warm water in Peru's western coast is said to be responsible for stimulating the rise of these storms. Equatorial sea surface temperatures are about average in neighboring parts of the central and east-central Pacific.
Unfortunately, the worst is not yet over for Peru. Dimitri Gutierrez, a scientist working at Peru's El Niño committee, forecasts that the local El Niño will last along Peru's northern coast at least through April, triggering either flooding or drought.
Deaths And Damages From Weather And Climate Disasters
A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that, in 2016, there were 15 weather and climate disaster events, with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.
These included a drought, four instances of major flooding, eight severe storms, a tropical cyclone, and a wildfire. Overall, these weather- and climate-related calamities resulted in the deaths of 138 people and had significant economic impacts on the affected areas.