Sao Paulo, Sep 24 (EFE).- Brazil ushered in spring on Sunday with a heat wave that led temperatures in many parts of the country to break records for this year after going through one of the hottest winters in six decades.
On Monday, the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) issued an alert for a hot air mass that peaked on Sunday, when temperatures were forecast to reach 42 degrees (107.6 Fahrenheit) in Rio de Janeiro and 37 (98.6 Fahrenheit) in Brasília.
São Paulo, the largest city in the country and South America, reached 36.5 degrees (97.7 Fahrenheit) at 15.00, its highest temperature this year and one of the highest since Inmet records began in 1943.
Those Paulistanos who could flee toward the beaches, causing traffic jams of up to 14 kilometers (8.6 miles), and those who stayed put on bathing suits and filled municipal swimming pools and parks.
Dressed in tank tops and shorts, Leonardo Callipo, a 27-year-old psychologist, chose a shady spot in Augusta Park, a green corner in the heart of this concrete-dominated city, to set up shop with his portable cooler full of beers and snacks.
“I like the heat, but this is too much. It’s been at least three years since we’ve had these temperatures, and we’re just coming out of winter,” says the young man, who is already considering buying an air conditioner for his apartment.
The soaring thermometers are explained by a recurring meteorological phenomenon known as El Niño, which causes a warming of the ocean currents near this part of the South American coast.
It usually occurs in December, at the beginning of the Brazilian summer. Still, climate change and weakening winds have brought the phenomenon forward.
During the winter, the north and center of the country had more than 70 days above 30 degrees Celsius. In comparison, the state of São Paulo recorded more than 50 days above that mark, and the city of the same name had its hottest cold season since 1961, according to Inmet.
Just as El Niño causes high temperatures and rainfall deficits in the center and north, it also generates torrential rains in the south, as was seen in the cyclone that hit that region in early September and left 50 dead. EFE