San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Heavy Rains to Drench C.R. Through December

Costa Rica’s National Meteorological Institute (IMN) has projected an intense and prolonged end to the rainy season, lasting up to three weeks longer than average in certain parts of the country.

The central Pacific coast, the northwest province of Guanacaste and the Central Valley will be the most affected regions, seeing 60 to 70 percent more rainfall than average from October through December. In these areas, the rainy season will continue through November until the end of December, lasting two to three weeks longer than normal.

The IMN forecasts that the Central Pacific will see 1,790 millimeters of rain through the end of December – above the 1,118-millimeter average for the region – while roughly 880 millimeters of rain will fall in the Central Valley, where San José lies, and in Guanacaste.

Guanacaste, and the Central Val-ley, on average, experience bet-ween 514-550 millimeters of rain bet-ween October and December.

Rain map

The Southern Pacific, where rains will continue to fall until late January, will see 45 percent above-average rainfall, amassing 1,800 millimeters of precipitation.

The Caribbean coast will see 5 to 10 percent more rainfall than normal through the end of the year, according to the IMN.

Because of the presence of La Niña, this year, a phenomenon that created conditions apt for severe weather, meteorologists forecast that eight to 10 additional tropical storms will affect the country through December.

As a result, the National Emergency Commission (CNE) has issued a green alert – the lowest of the country’s three alert levels – for the reminder of the rainy season.

The commission said in a statement that “constant rains and disorderly urban development continue to generate incidents.”

In the past week, the effects of two tropical storms struck Central America, foreshadowing a frenzied end to 2010.

Tropical Storm Nicole, which pounded parts of the Atlantic Coast in the United States late this week, forced 100 to 200 liters of rain per square meter to fall on Tuesday in Costa Rica’s Central Valley and the Central Pacific, according to the IMN. These measurements are four to eight times the daily average of 25 liters per square meter that fall in the two regions during the month of September. 

Nicole caused flooding and landslides across the country, forcing government institutions to close roads and highways (see separate story, Page 1). 

This week, the CNE moved more than 300 people from the Central Valley and the Central Pacific to shelters because of the rains induced by Nicole. The CNE said that many of the evacuees’ homes were at a “high risk of flooding” because of their locations on river banks, while others’ homes were destroyed by high winds and heavy downpours.

In the mountain community of Zarcero, north of San José, six homes were completely destroyed by the extreme weather. The saturated grounds near Zarcero collapsed the area’s main water line, leaving 8,000 people without clean drinking water on Wednesday.

While last week’s Tropical Storm Matthew did not bring the heavy rains and severe flooding to Costa Rica that many expected, it caused heavy damage in other parts of the Central American isthmus.

Costa Rica’s emergency officials requested that all the country’s residents “maintain a level of precaution” through the end of the rainy season. The commission recommends that residents be watchful of rising river levels that could cause floods and to be alert to the heightened possibility of landslides due to saturated soils.

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