From heatwave to frost in less than a week: Historic cold engulfs parts of South America

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A sudden and unexpected surge of cold Arctic air has engulfed several regions of South America, shattering numerous cold records in its wake. Although it is currently summer in the southern hemisphere, including parts of South America such as Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil, some areas have experienced a drastic and rapid shift in weather, going from a heat wave to frost in less than a week.

On February 18, 2023, most of the cities in Paraguay experienced a sharp drop in temperature, breaking their previous records for minimum temperatures. The temperatures ranged between 7 and 16°C (44.6 – 60.8°F) across the country, with the lowest readings recorded in the southeast. The lowest temperature was 7.7 °C (45.9 °F), which is just 0.7 °C (1.2 °F) from the national record low for the month of February.

The extreme cold weather caused at least 30 cities in Argentina to break their monthly cold records on the same day. The temperature dropped as low as -0.9 °C (30.4 °F) in Santa Rosa de Conlara, breaking the previous minimum February record of 3 °C (37.4 °F) set on February 1, 2005. In other cities, Villa Reynolds recorded 0.2 °C (32.4 °F), breaking the previous record of 1.8 °C (35.2 °F) set on February 12, 2018, and Villa De Maria recorded 1.6 °C (34.9 °F), breaking the previous record of 4 °C (39.2 °F) set on February 8, 1949.


Uruguay was also affected, with the temperature in Artigas dropping to a record low of 7.3 °C (45.1 °F).

Brazil recorded 6.8 °C (44.2 °F) at Bage and 8.7 °C (47.6 °F) at Santa Maria.

The temperatures across most of the region are now returning to normal, with noticeable warming expected from February 21 and 22.

Featured image credit: GFS/TropicalTidbits


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