Heavy rains across Colombia expected to last until June

Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) predicts that the rainy season will last until mid-June.

The institute has released weather related warnings for the departments of Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Santander, Antioquia and Quindío. Medellín and Salento have been placed on a Red Alert due to the high probability of landslides and overflowing of rivers.

The Andes and Pacific regions are the most affected.

The department of Cundinamarca is on Orange Alert. The heavy rains forecasted may increase the water levels of the Negro, Sumapaz and Bogotá rivers. Travelers heading to the municipalities of Anapoima, Apulo, Girardot, Mesitas de Colegio, La Mesa and Tocaima should pay attention to weather announcements and warnings.

Fallen trees and flooded streets have caused havoc in Cali. The extreme weather has damaged more than 300 hectares of crops in municipalities in the Valle del Cauca. Farmers have also lost produce as landslides have barred them from transporting crops to markets.

In Bogotá, the Institute for Risk Management and Climate Change (Idiger), Fire Department, Acueducto de Bogotá, and Ministry of Health are working  to reduce the effects of heavy rainfall in an effort to avoid emergencies such as flooding, landslides and falling trees.

By using the Bogotá Alert System – a platform that gathers information on weather conditions in real time – Idiger has devised a contingency plan to deal with the current climate and its potentially dangerous impacts.

The Acueducto de Bogotá reports that cleaning operations in the city’s sewers, particularly pipes near commercial centers and popular markets, have increased. To prevent blockages, the organization has asked citizens to avoid throwing garbage and items into canals, streams or rivers, as well as down toilets and drains. They also recommend citizens take out the garbage at set times and leave it in well-sealed bags to prevent the garbage from accumulating or being washed away.

According to Idiger, Bogotá’s localities most vulnerable to flooding and landslides include Suba, Usaquen, Engativá, Fontibón, Bosa, Kennedy, Fontibón, San Cristóbal, Usme, Tunjuelito and Ciudad Bolivar.

Idiger recommends the following to stay safe and avoid an emergency:

– Avoid traveling at night, especially in areas prone to flooding and landslides.

– Review trees that may represent a threat, as well as the infrastructure (particularly the roof) of your house to ensure they are in good condition.

– In the case of an electrical storm, disconnect electronic equipment and avoid taking shelter on terraces, in tents and outdoor areas, and under trees and metal towers.

– Inform authorities by calling the National Police hotline 123 if you notice damming or an increase in the levels of the channels.

Important emergency numbers:

132: Red Cross

144: Defensa Civil

119: Firefighters

123: National Police

Bogotá has seen over 50 rain-related accidents and more than 160 households in the capital are receiving humanitarian aid.