A sudden and abnormal warming of Pacific waters off Peru has unleashed the deadliest downpours in decades, with landslides and raging rivers sweeping away people, clogging highways and destroying crops.
At least 62 people have died and more than 70,000 have become homeless as Peru’s rainy season has delivered 10 times as much rainfall than usual, authorities said Friday.
About half of Peru has been declared in emergency to expedite resources to the hardest hit areas, mostly in the north where rainfall has broken records in several districts, said Prime Minister Fernando Zavala.
Peru is bracing itself for another month of flooding.
A local El Nino phenomenon, the warming of surface sea temperatures in the Pacific, will likely continue along Peru’s northern coast at least through April, said Dimitri Gutierrez, a scientist with Peru’s El Nino committee.
Coastal El Ninos in Peru tend to be preceded by the El Nino phenomenon in the Equatorial Central Pacific, which can trigger flooding and droughts around the world, said Gutierrez. But this year’s event in Peru has developed from local conditions.
The U.S. weather agency has put the chances of an El Nino developing in the second half of 2017 at 50-55 percent.
While precipitation in Peru has…