By Felicity Johnson
BARBA BLANCA, Peru – A slide sweeps through the streets of the small village, plastering each of the houses with a layer of mud.
An unusual steady rainfall had been noticed by the residents of Barba Blanca in early January, and by the time March came around, the showers had become alarming, raining for more than six hours each day. On Thursday, March 16, a heavy shower of rain began, causing villagers to flee their homes to higher ground.
The villagers watched from a gravel road on the edge mountain as mud claimed their homes. After the flooding, they climbed down the mountain to evaluate their town. Fields of cherimoya fruit and avocado trees destroyed and homes washed with mud.
Flooding and mudslides have been reported in 24 out of 25 regions in Peru, according to Humanity Road. The most recent report by the National Emergency Operations Centre (COEN) recorded deaths from flooding at more than 80 since the beginning of December. The report also indicated that more than 650,000 citizens have been affected with over 145,000 properties damaged.
“Piura, along the northern coast of Peru, has been inundated with 631mm (nearly 25 inches) of rain since the start of the year,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews.
A total of 55mm (2.17 inches) fell in just 24 hours on March 21.
“Piura averages less than 75mm (3 inches) each year,” Andrews said.
A warming of the ocean waters off the coast of Peru may be linked to the unusually heavy rainfall over recent week.
Current analysis shows water temperatures as much as 4-5 C (7-9 F) above normal along most of Peru’s coastline, and it is unlikely that it will change for at least a few more weeks.
This unusual ocean warmth could lead to other floods throughout April before calmer, drier weather starts up in May and June.