October 22, 2011
“I want to tell the world that El Salvador is going through one of the most dramatic disasters in its history,” President Mauricio Funes said on national radio and television Wednesday night, as he appealed for international aid. A week of torrential rains across Central America have triggered extreme floods and landslides that have killed 105 people, according to media reports. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have declared states of emergency due to the disaster. El Salvador and Guatemala have seen the worst flooding, with 34 and 38 people killed, respectively. Another 18 have died in Honduras, 13 in Nicaragua, and 5 in Costa Rica. The rains were due to a large area of low pressure that was moistened by the landfall of Tropical Depression 12-E near the Mexico/Guatemala border last week. Contributing to the record-intensity rains were ocean temperatures off the coast of El Salvador that were 0.5 - 1°C above average during the first half of October, allowing more water vapor than usual to evaporate into the air. Over the past ten days, rainfall amounts of over a meter (39.4”) have fallen over a large area of southwest El Salvador (Figure 2.) At Huizucar, an astonishing 1.513 meters (4.96 feet) of rain fell in the past ten days.