Preparations in place for ‘El Niño threat’

By bogotapost January 24, 2015

The Colombian government is readying for a significant shift in weather patterns after meteorologists  warned of a 50-50 chance that the phenomenon known as ‘El Niño’ will hit Colombia in the next three months.

With El Niño comes the possibility of severe drought – particularly in already-vulnerable areas in northern Colombia. The increased warming of surface water and low air pressure in the Western Pacific can lead to higher temperatures and drier conditions inland, weather analysts said last week.

The country is no stranger to drought. Last year, a months-long drought in and around La Guajira left tens of thousand of animals dead, and led to energy shortages, crop failures, forest fires and food shortages.

The government says it will be prepared to mitigate any extreme weather conditions this year.

“We have already arranged 148 water plants, 42 wells in the driest areas, 90 tankers, 500 tanks receiving water and, among other things, a drill with ability to dig up to 1,000 meters deep to fetch water,” Environment Minister Gabriel Vallejo said in a press release last week.

Some US$38 million has been committed to drought relief regionally and a further US$20.5 million has been earmarked to fund any emergency that may arise.

Agriculture Minister Aurelio Iragorri also warned  last week that the price of food may climb this year as a result of poor crop yields caused by the weather phenomenon.

By Maddie Elder