Relief comes to Argentina after extreme heat wave

Buenos Aires, Jan 17 (EFE).- Argentina on Monday is starting the week with a break from the high temperatures and storms in various parts of the country, a welcome relief from the intense heat wave that has beset the nation in recent days causing a huge number of problems with electricity supply and sparking forest fires in assorted spots.

The heat wave is over, for the moment anyway, in the central portion of the country, where maximum temperatures of only 25 C (77 F) are being felt now due to a mass of cold air moving across the nation bringing rain, although northern Argentina is still waiting for the heat to break with the advance of the cooler air on Monday and Tuesday, National Weather Service (SMN) spokesperson Cindy Fernandez told EFE.

Argentina was baking amid an extreme heat wave that brought high temps of 45 C (113 F) to the northern part of the country, according to the SMN, as well as to Buenos Aires, which last Friday set a record of 41.5 C (107 F).

The heat wave put the country’s electricity grid to the test, with record energy demand last Thursday and Friday and a series of events that left 700,000 users without power last Tuesday and 200,000 without power on Friday in Greater Buenos Aires.

On Monday, in the capital and vicinity, 14,074 users remain without electricity, according to the Electricity Regularity Entity (Enre), after power outages that continued through last week and affected some 100,000 people on Saturday.

To prioritize residential consumption of electricity, the government of Alberto Fernandez allowed public employees to work remotely on Thursday and Friday and also asked industry to reduce its energy consumption on those days so that residential users would have enough power.

The weather change also allowed the wildfire situation in Argentina to “calm down,” Deputy Environment Minister Sergio Federovisky told Radio 10.

According to the ministry’s fire report, six provinces are still registering active fires: three in central San Luis, two in eastern Santa Fe, two in northwestern Catamarca, one in northern Salta and another in western Mendoza, and the most “complicated” area, according to Federovisky, is in the Rio Negro area, in Bariloche amid the Lago Martin complex.

“We’re in a very, and I mean very, complicated fire season” and “the heat wave acted as a detonator for the appearance of fires in different places,” Federovisky said.

The official noted that two years ago virtually all of Argentina was suffering from a “very extreme drought” and that climate change is “creating very adverse situations” in terms of the appearance of wildfires.

EFE vd/rgm/laa/bp

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