Severe Storms Flood Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Starting on Thursday and continuing throughout the weekend, there have been several storms in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. On Thursday, the weather had been very nice and sunny until about noon. However, in a few minutes, the sky turned cloudy all of a sudden and it started to rain. Initially it did not seem like a big deal, but after a few minutes it turned into a very intense thunderstorm.

The lighting blasts struck at the city and caused power outages in many places, including the residential areas of Lomas del Guijarro. In one hour of intense rain, many neighborhoods around the city began to flood, as the streams overflowed. Tegucigalpa, being a city of many hills, was subject to water currents that quickly grew out of control as they went downhill. The McDonalds in Boulevard Morazan was completely flooded. Several cars were almost totally covered by water and people had to be rescued. I was able to keep track of the news by means of a live news radio.

I heard reports of a fallen wall of a school, and reports of houses being flooded and evacuated in several neighborhoods. The most damaged neighborhoods were the poor ones. The water ran down the narrow paths and flooded the street markets. A wide range of merchandise was lost and stolen. There were also members of the police, firemen, and red cross helping to rescue people from houses, and neighbors were helping out with rescuing furniture and other items.

On Friday there was a light rain and on Saturday it rained again, but briefly. However, by the end of the weekend, five people were reported dead as a result of these floods. There was also some damage to the city such as some fallen trees and light poles. For now, though, it appears the storms have stopped. In fact, flash storms such as the ones on Thursday are quite unusual, even though floods which include deaths happen every once in a while. In itself, the storm on Thursday does not seem to indicate a generalized change in weather in Honduras, despite the fact that the lighting strikes on Thursday were among the loudest heard.

Even though this storm is not an indicator that Honduras’s weather has taken an unusual turn, there is ample evidence to support weather change throughout the last couple of years. From my several trips to Honduras, I was able to recall how the weather was back then. In the years after Hurricane Mitch, a hurricane that devastated Honduran economy and infrastructure, I recall a mild Honduran weather. Around June 2003, I recall the weather as being quite fresh, windy, and sometimes warm.

The heat around Tegucigalpa was never really something to talk about, because it was never too hot. However, there has definitely been an increase in the temperature in this city in the last four years. Today, in 2007, the temperature is in the 80’s and the hot weather sometimes rises to uncomfortable levels. I was surprised at how hot this summer has been in comparison to other ones. The recent rainfall has been somewhat of a relief from what otherwise has been a very warm climate.

I am optimistic however, since in the last week or two I have observed a couple of days that have been slightly fresher, in the 60’s and 70’s, reminiscent of those days in 2003. I don’t look forward to more temperature increases for next year, however.

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