Minimize El Nino fuelled rains swamp South America

Since the middle of 2015, meteorologists have warned that El Niño could bring unusually wet weather to Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and southern Brazil. The warnings have proven to be prescient.

In December and January, heavy summer rains swamped this part of South America causing the Uruguay, Paraguay and Paraná rivers to swell beyond flood stage. As of 15 January 2016, floods had displaced more than 150,000 people in what some observers are calling the worst floods to affect the region in decades.

Paraguay has been hit the hardest. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated, mostly from Asunción, the capital city. Many of these people are now living in temporary shelters throughout the city. Some of the hardest hit neighbourhoods were Los Baños and Bañado Norte, both of which are located along the river.

On 7 January, water levels in Asunción rose as high as 7.84 metres (25.72 feet). Authorities issue flood warning when water reaches 4.5 metres. By the time the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) acquired this image on 12 January 2016, waters had dropped to 7.6 metres, still well above flood stage.

Even as waters subside, public health threats will persist. In January, Paraguay's Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare declared an alert for Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, viral diseases spread by mosquitoes.

View the full resolution image.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Paraguay River flooding

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