Hurricane Julia Triggers Deadly Floods, Landslide in Venezuela

On Saturday, a month's worth of rain fell in 8 hours in central Venezuela, causing five small rivers to flood and triggering a deadly landslide in the town of Tejerias [Las Tejerías].

Hurricane Julia Triggers Deadly Floods, Landslide in Venezuela
Image credit: CBS

Facts

  • On Saturday, a month's worth of rain fell in 8 hours in central Venezuela, causing five small rivers to flood and triggering a deadly landslide in the town of Tejerias [Las Tejerías].
  • As of Monday, local authorities and media outlets reported 22 fatalities and another 52 people missing. 1.5K officials have been deployed to the area to support search and rescue operations, as moderate-to-heavy rainfall is forecast to continue.
  • Local officials stated that the floods and landslides "terribly affected” a total of 21 sectors in Las Tejerías, home to 54K residents. Heavy rains have triggered floods in 11 out of 23 states nationwide in the past week.
  • Hurricane Julia, which made landfall north of Venezuela, was the source of the flood-triggered landslides, according to Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos. Three days of national mourning were announced by Pres. Nicolás Maduro.
  • Hurricane Julia, the fifth hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, made landfall in Nicaragua early Sunday morning as a Category 1 storm. In addition to the floods and landslides in Venezuela, destroyed homes and infrastructure were reported in Nicaragua, and emergency officials in Colombia and Guatemala also braced for potential impacts.
  • This comes as the World Meteorological Organization has declared an "exceptional" occurrence of a La Niña weather pattern for the third consecutive year in a row. In Latin America, La Niña can produce drought conditions in southern regions of South America, but there can also be an increase in Atlantic hurricanes and tropical systems.

Sources: Guardian, Relief Web, Al Jazeera, BBC News, AccuWeather, and NPR Online News.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Futurity. Climate change seems to have thrown the planet a curveball with this unexpected "triple dip" La Niña. At some point, El Niño is expected to become more dominant in a warming world, but the research community has much to learn about the subtleties of oceans and even how Antarctica may play a role. In the meantime, Latin American nations hit hard by La Niña are forced to cope for an unusual third year in a row.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Phys. Latin America has a long and rich history of coping with El Niño and La Niña events. For example, cultures in areas such as Peru show patterns of resilience dating back millennia, including abandoning high-risk areas during times of disaster. We must be cautious in overstating the influence of climate change on cultures and catastrophes in the region - there is a long period of record showing perseverance during challenging times.

Predictions