March 9, 2014
Heat wave strikes and leads to power outages
Buenos Aires City was a study in sun, sweat and water bottles yesterday, as a the heat returned to the capital for one more bout with residents, bringing with it power outages in several neighbourhoods and accompanying protests by those affected.
But the capital wasn’t the only part of the country eager to see the arrival of a much-anticipated afternoon shower to cool things down: as much of the country was engulfed in a record-breaking heatwave.
The heatwave struck Buenos Aires City — and much of the country — yesterday as many areas suffered power outages, and protests broke out in several neighbourhoods.
Electricity woes, however, were not just limited to the capital. In Rosario, around 40,000 people were left without service.
The extreme heat has also become deadly. In Mendoza four people died over the last few weeks due to the extreme heat, officials revealed yesterday.
The announced “week of rains” that would bring relief to the sweltering heat had not arrived at press time. Instead, an extreme heat could be felt. Buenos Aires was like a sauna. Every movement of the body was tedious, and commuting in public transport became an odyssey. The temperature in the metropolitan area was around 35 degrees Celsius but it felt much hotter — closer to 47 degrees Celcius as the national weather service warned that a yellow alert was in effect.
Heat Wave In Half Of The Country
The heat wave engulfed much of the country yesterday, with temperatures that reached 53-year records.
La Rioja, Santa Fe, Corrientes, Formosa and Córdoba were the provinces that registered the highest temperatures. In Chamical, La Rioja the temperature reached 52 degrees, and power outages once again took the spotlight.
“Several locations recorded the highest minimum and maximum for any January since 1961, with one or two heat waves and persistence of extreme temperatures between seven and fifteen days,” said Hernán Veiga, an expert at the National Meteorological Service (SMN).
After a historic December that “broke the record for the number of straight days with extremely high temperatures” — mainly in the centre and north of the country — “January continues to show the same warm pattern, with values above the threshold that is considered extreme,” he added.
In the Cuyo region, the Mendoza province registered four fatalities from the heat.
“They were all people over 65 years. Their identities have not been reported yet, but we know they died in their homes,” said Armando Dauverne, director of the Schestakow Hospital.
Three of the dead lived in the city of San Rafael and the fourth in the municipality of General Alvear, where on Thursday last week temperature reached 43 degrees.
In Rosario, Santa Fe province, some 40,000 people were without electricity for several hours yesterday. At press time, there were still thousands without power.
The Santa Fe provincial energy company (EPE) acknowledged that there were about 10,000 homes without energy supply, while pickets demanding the return of the power supply intensified throughout the day.
The moment of greatest tension in Rosario took place the day before yesterday when a group of people blocking a street in 3800 Ovidio Lagos Avenue took control of an EPE vehicle demanding the arrival of a crew of technicians to repair damaged lines.
The company spokeswoman, Diana Entrudo, said yesterday that “48 and 72-hour claims will have priority, but not all of them will be solved today.”
The province of La Rioja, meanwhile, set a new record of energy consumption, with persistent power and water service outages.
In contrast, the southern provinces were free from the burden of heat. Neuquén did not surpass the 21-degree-Celsius mark, Chubut 16 degrees and Santa Cruz, 12 degrees.
Protests In The Big City
In Buenos Aires City power outages led to protests and road blocks — repeating scenes that had become common over the Christmas holidays. Despite the sweltering heat yesterday afternoon, protesters blocked the traffic at the corner of Corrientes Avenue and Scalabrini Ortiz in the Villa Crespo neighbourhood.
Much of the ire was due to the fact that several of the outages occured in areas that had been previously affected by cuts, such as the neighbourhood of Floresta.
Last night some citizens were organizing a protest in front of the energy company Edesur, located at the intersection of Lacarra and Juan Bautista Alberdi. Other group was blocking Rivadavia Avenue at the intersection with Lacarra Street.
Power outages were also reported in Recoleta, Almagro, Caballito, Boedo, Villa Urquiza, Versalles and Villa Real, among others. Olivos, Quilmes, Ituzaingó, Monte Grande, Adrogué and Lomas de Zamora were some of the areas of Greater Buenos Aires most affected by the cuts.
Hail And Alert
Some relief was due for the City and much of the country yesterday as a strong thunderstorm poured some refreshment onto the sweltering streets.
“A warm air mass, very humid and unstable, affects the south of Córdoba, Santa Fe and north west of Buenos Aires, where storms of different intensity are registered,” the national weather service reported last night, warning of “intense electrical activity.”
Earlier yesterday, a storm that included hurricane-strength winds and hail caused injures to several people in Río Cuarto, Córdoba. Large hail broke glass windows injuring several people, none of them seriously. Severe storms caused trees and light poles to fall. In Villa de la Quebrada, San Luis, serious damage was registered at the town’s bus station, caused by hail the size of a tennis ball.
For today, SMN announced clouds and chances of showers and thunderstorms with a maximum of a much cooler 24 degrees Celsius. A long-sleeved shirt may not be out of the question for part of the day considering the minimum will reportedly be 12 degrees Celsius.
Herald with DyN