Landslides have resulted in mass destruction in the capital, La Paz [Reuters]

This year’s rainy season has been particularly severe for parts of South America.

Over the past few months, no less than eight countries have been hit by flash floods and mudslides. Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay have all suffered at times. Guyana is the latest country to find itself battling against coastal flooding.

Meanwhile, Bolivia remains in the grip of intense rainfall which has destroyed more than 150 homes in the capital, La Paz.

Much of La Paz is built on steep mountainsides and more than 10,000 people have been made homeless. Weeks of heavy rain have killed at least 40 people in Bolivia during the last month alone.

The government declared a national emergency last Tuesday due to the torrential downpours. Much of the country has been affected.

La Nina effect?

There is a school of thought that these floods are due to La Nina, the weather phenomenon which has already caused flooding in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and southern Africa. However, I have to say that I am not convinced.

We had widespread and major flooding in Peru around this time last year, and although it has been a particularly strong La Nina this year, we must also allow for the fact that this part of South America is already prone to heavy rain.

This is because areas of low pressure naturally develop here due to the proximity of the Andes. So much so, that the feature is known as the Bolivian Low.

Away from here, we have a similar feature in the Mediterranean know as the Genoa Low. This develops to the lee of the Alps and often brings heavy rain into parts of the central Mediterranean, just around the Gulf of Genoa. We are currently seeing stormy weather affecting that western side of the Mediterranean.

As a result, Italy, Sardinia and Corsica can look forward to a rather stormy week with heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. This slow moving low is the same one that recently stranded a ferry off the coast of Libya in high winds and rough seas.

Source: Al Jazeera