Severe storms hit Chile with hail and record rainfall


Severe weather affecting south-central Chile since January 29, 2021, left more than 170 000 people without power and dozens of homes damaged or destroyed.

Severe weather, including strong winds, hail, and heavy rains impacted parts of southern-central Chile over the past couple of days. The affected areas include Santiago Metropolitan, O’Higgins, Valparaíso, Maule, Araucanía, and Bío Bío regions.

Flooding and landslides were reported in several areas. Capital Santiago registered as much rain in 24 hours as it would usually receive in the six-month period from November to April.

Meanwhile, Quinta Normal recorded 31.4 mm (1.2 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period on January 29, beating its previous daily record of 22.4 mm (0.9 inches) in 1933, according to Chile's meteorological office.

Elsewhere in the country, Requinoa saw 70.3 mm (2.8 inches) of rain during the same period, Pirque 49.3 mm (1.9 inches), and Longavi 47 mm (1.8 inches).

About 1 353 people were isolated in Alto Biobio Commune due to flooding, while 521 people are staying in temporary shelters. Five houses were destroyed, 37 were severely damaged, and dozens of others were yet to be assessed.

As of Saturday, January 30, about 170 000 people lost access to electricity in the Metropolitan, Valparaíso, O’Higgins, and Maule regions. Turbidity in the rivers also posed a threat of interruption of drinking water.

"Turbidity in the Maipo River (in the capital of Santiago) is high, so if that continues, during the day today, the situation of the water supply will need to be evaluated," said Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado.

Featured image credit: Metropolitan Region Citizen NGO National Emergency Network Contingencies

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