Storm tears off roofs, cuts power

January 8, 2010

Heavy rainfall and intense winds in Costa Rica´s Central Valley and along the Caribbean coast have slashed power lines and forced hundreds of evacuations since Sunday morning. Conditions will remain strong for at least the next two days, meteorologists said, and parts of the country will stay on yellow alert, the middle of the country´s three alert levels.

From Sunday through noon Monday, 110 millimeters of rain fell along the Caribbean, causing rivers to swell and some to spill over their banks, according to the National Meteorological Institute (IMN).

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported that the rivers rose and flooded mainly in the Matina canton in the province of Limón, and in Sarapiquí canton in Heredia. The entire province of Limón is under yellow alert, as well as Sarapiquí de Heredia and Costa Rica´s Northern Zone.

Floods forced 180 people to abandon their homes in Sarapiquí de Heredia. The CNE evacuated families by boat on Sunday and Monday and took them to shelters in Caño San José and La Guaria.

CNE also evacuated 85 people from B-Line, 24 Millas and Estrada in Matina. Those who do not have family in the area will stay in a shelter in the Catholic Church in B-Line.

Roughly 65 mm of rain fell on Monday afternoon in the Caribbean zone and the IMN is forecasting 100-150 more on Tuesday and Wednesday. Juan Diego Naranjo, a meteorologist, said the heaviest rains will come at night and in the morning, but he said residents can expect rainfall all day long through Thursday.

In the Central Valley, winds were clocked at up to 70 kilometers per hour, Naranjo said, a velocity that will persist through the early hours of Thursday. The gusts have ripped the roofs off 39 homes in Alajuela and Heredia and lacerated power lines throughout the Central Valley and the Caribbean region.

In Limón, residents have reported blackouts in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo.

Naranjo said the cold front will make its way out of the country on Thursday and rains and winds will slow throughout the weekend.

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