If you would have told someone yesterday that Bogotá is a cold and wet Andean city, you might have received some incredulous remarks, given the fact, that Wednesday was the hottest on record, with a temperature of 25.1 degrees celsius.
So while the traditional Bogotá attire of tweed and woolly ruanas may be shelved until this hot weather cools down when April’s rains arrive, the country’s meteorological agency IDEAM has warned that his dry spell will continue for the next several days.
The IDEAM has been monitoring Bogotá’s temperature for 60 years and if you have watched an international news channel, you’ll see that when they pull up the map of the world, Bogotá barely fluctuates — one or two degrees celsius at the most, the daily average steady at 18 degrees. The last time it almost got as hot as yesterday, according to our weather experts, was back in 1995 when the temperature scale rose to 24.9 degrees.
So while monitoring Bogotá’s temperature at the IDEAM can hardly be considered a “high risk” job, the fact that we crossed a threshold in heat does allow for some level of flexibility with the Bermudas and sandals, which are generally ridiculed by Bogotanos as most inappropriate for the capital’s streets. And if it is hot at this high altitude, then the rest of Colombia is not getting much respite either, with the main cities along the Caribbean coast — Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena — also enjoying seasonally hot weather.
But the dry weather pattern that has everyone in shorts and t-shirts poses a threat for potential forest fires across the Sabana de Bogotá, and even through the first week of February 2016 recorded 18 fires in the Cerros of Bogotá, this year our green belts have been spared from the criminal hands of arsonists and fires caused by a prolonged drought. Twenty-sixteen was the worst year on record for forest fires with 29 reported.
With the typical January dry spell arriving a month late, authorities are monitoring the potential risk of fires in 46 towns across the department of Cundinamarca. Currently some 200 emergency response members from the National Police, Colombian Army and Civic Defense Force are battling to control a blaze on a hillside known as Pan de Azúcar, near the town of Tenjo, 40 kilometers west of the capital.
With Bogotanos not used to heat waves, take necessary precautions when spending time outdoors, such as wearing plenty of sunscreen, hydrating frequently, and protect yourself from the direct sun by wearing a hat.
In the meantime, make the most of these clear blue skies by riding your bicycle to work or taking an afternoon stroll in Bogotá’s many parks. Because before you know it, this “Ay Qué calor!” will be replaced by “Ay, Qué frio!”
The IDEAM estimates that Thursday in Bogotá will be slightly cooler than Wednesday, with an average of 23 degrees and partly sunny skies.