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Wednesday, June 26 2019 @ 03:50 PM UTC

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SINAPROC Warns Against High Tides And Strong Wave Action

WeatherSinaproc Press Release - The Director General of Panama's National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), Arturo Alvarado de Icaza, warned again that this week there will be higher than normal tides along Panama's Pacific coast, and in the coming days the high tides will be accompanied by high winds and strong waves. Fishermen are advised that they should take the appropriate precautions and secure their boats against any emergency that might arise. It is also recommended that adults and children remain in safe places. This week the high tides will peak at 17.4 feet, and the surge will last from 15 to 21 May 2011.
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Landslides: How Rainfall Dried Up Panama's Drinking Water

WeatherScienceDaily - An aerial survey of landslides has helps scientists evaluate the effect of a prolonged tropical storm on the water supply in the Panama Canal watershed. To understand the long-term effects of a prolonged tropical storm in the Panama Canal watershed, Robert Stallard, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, and Armando Ubeda, the LightHawk Mesoamerica program manager, organized four flights over the watershed to create a digital map of landslide scars.

Two feet of heavy rain inundated the Panama Canal watershed between Dec. 7 and 10, 2010. Landslides tore down steep slopes, choking rivers with sediment and overwhelming Panama City's water-treatment plant. Flooding closed the Panama Canal for the first time since 1935. Despite the deluge, the influx of sediments in the water forced authorities to shut down the plant, leaving a million residents of central Panama without clean drinking water for nearly a month.

LightHawk, a conservation organization based in the U.S., donates flights for research and conservation efforts. Retired United Airlines captain David Cole flew the Cessna 206 aircraft, and the four flights yielded images of 191 square miles (495 square kilometers) of watershed. Stallard observed numerous new landslide scars left behind by the December storm, supporting his prediction that landslides supplied much of the suspended sediment that disrupted Panama's water supply.

The new watershed erosion map will allow Stallard and collaborators from the Panama Canal Authority to calculate the landslide risk of future storms and direct strategies to minimize the effect on Panama's water supply. Tropical hydrologists agree that river-borne sediment originates from surface erosion or from deep erosion from landslides. In 1985, Stallard predicted that "deep erosion, not shallow surface erosion, is the primary process controlling the chemistry and sediment levels in many tropical rivers that pass through mountainous areas." Few studies have been conducted to test this prediction.

Deforestation of steep slopes is the primary factor determining the number of landslides. Six decades of aerial photographs analyzed by USGS researchers in similar landscapes in Puerto Rico showed that landslide frequency doubles outside protected nature preserves, and that roads and infrastructure make landslides eight times more likely. Although landslides happen in natural forests, the objective is to limit their impact through appropriate land-use practices.

"With development, landslide intensity increases dramatically," said Stallard. "In its history, the Panama Canal watershed has experienced huge floods. It's still hard to say whether future floods will be accompanied by disastrous landslides like those produced by Hurricane Mitch in Central America." In 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept across Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador causing more than 10,000 deaths and incalculable economic damage. Panama's proximity to the equator puts the country outside the usual hurricane zone, but prolonged tropical storms may occur.

Erosion control is possible. Partnering with the Panama Canal Authority and Panama's Environmental Authority, the Smithsonian is conducting a 700 hectare experiment in the canal watershed funded by the HSBC Climate Partnership to compare the effects of land-use choices, such as cattle ranching or reforestation with native tree species on water supply, carbon storage and biodiversity. Stallard hopes that this research will provide new information about which land uses provide a steady supply of clean water for the Canal.

With the first rains in May, the eight-month wet season begins anew in central Panama. Drinking water flows freely, the rivers are clear and the Panama Canal is open for business. But bare slopes of past landslides continue to create secondary erosion, which will dislodge sediments from the steep, rainy and rugged Panama Canal watershed in 2011. The long-term effects of the 2010 storm may continue as renewed interruptions in the water supply in 2011.

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SINAPROC Warns of High Tides In The Pacific

Weather The National Civil Protection System announced through a statement that the high tides will continue in the Panamanian Pacific. According to the note, the tides will reach up to the 17.8 feet. SINAPROC recommends that the general public and fishermen should take necessary precautionary measures against the likelihood of waves. The note also points out that from noon on Thursday, 21 April until the afternoon of 24 April about 160 volunteers and officials of that entity will be guarding the activities taking place during this Holy Week. They also mentioned that staff will be guarding the access routes towards Alanje by the routes of Querevalos, Tijera de Boquerón and Divalá de Alanje, in the province of Chiriquí. (TVN Noticias)
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Heavy Rains Causing Flooding in Santa Isabel and Nombre de Dios, Colon Province

WeatherMore than 20 homes have been affected thus far by flooding in the district of Santa Isabel in the province of Colon. It was reported that a dozen of the homes affected are in the village of Santa Isabel, in that district, where Santa Isabel river overflowed its banks and the waters reached the middle of town, according to the representative Conception Camargo. Meanwhile, in Nombre de Dios about about eight houses were affected by flooding of the river of the same name, which reached a level of three feet. While in Portobelo students have not been able to leave the school grounds because of the heavy rains falling in that region. The heavy rains started falling in the province of Colon yesterday at 7:00 pm. (La Prensa)
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Radioactive steam could get to Panama

Weather Radioactive fumes emitted by the blasts at three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan could pass over Panama, said yesterday the nuclear energy expert at the University of Panama, Orlando Leone. "It is possible that the vapors could rise into the stratosphere and cross the Pacific Ocean," said Leone, who directs the Center for Research in Nuclear Techniques of the UP. "In fact, winds carry sand from the Sahara desert over the Atlantic Ocean and they fall out over the Amazon jungle." However, the expert downplayed the effect the passage of such material might have on the health of Panamanians, explaining that in the unlikely event that the vapors reach our country, the cloud would have largely dissipated, and exposure to radiation would be minimal, well below levels considered dangerous. "At such low levels, no one will feel it," he said. Currently, the University of Panama has a radiation detector that is able to read abnormal increases in the levels of radioactivity in the environment.

RELEASED IN JAPAN - Radioactive elements escaped into the atmosphere from Japan on Saturday after the first explosion in Fukushima. The radioactive plume, which seems to have gone over the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, with winds from the north and northeast, consists mainly of iodine and cesium.

RADIATION POISONING - Exposure to dangerous levels of radioactivity causes hair loss, diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, fainting and skin burns. Chronic or prolonged exposures cause various types of cancer, especially leukemia. Birth defects in newborn babies are also associated with exposure to dangerous levels of radioactive material. (La Critica)

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Five Indigenous Communities To Be Relocated After Flooding

WeatherFive Embera communities in the Darien province will be relocated after being affected by flooding during the month of December 2010. The Director of National Indian Policy, José Isaac Acosta, said they are waiting for the weather to stabilize and for the land where the families will be located to be in good condition before they are able to begin construction of housing. Acosta said on RPC Radio they have already talked to the communities, of which about 375 homes will be relocated. The communities will be relocated are: Canán Membrillo (90 homes); El Salto (102 homes), Mogotee (26 homes); Peña Vijagual (50 homes) and Nuevo Vijía (103 homes). He said they have visited 11 communities where they have attended to a total of 4,000 families, of those 1,500 from the are of Zambú and 2,500 in Cémaco. (Panama America)

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La Niña floods land across Pacific

WeatherThe flooding in Australia has submerged vast swathes of Queensland. What's the cause? Is it climate change or could there be something else? Maybe it has something to do with it being a La Nina year. Many people have heard of El Nino, as it gets blamed for crazy weather around the world, but La Nina is his lesser known sister. So what is it?

In a neutral year - which is not El Nino or La Nina - the warmer surface waters of the Pacific get blown towards Indonesia. This is due to the prevailing winds across the Pacific, and is the usual set-up. As the warmer surface waters head west, cooler waters well up near the coast of South America. This is good news for fishermen, as these waters are full of nutrients and fish.

During an El Nino year, the set up is slightly different. The prevailing winds ease and the warmer surface waters wash back towards South America. This gives warmer than usual surface temperatures across the Pacific and cuts off the supply of cooler water near South America. It was Peruvian fishermen who first noticed El Nino conditions centuries ago, when they tried to explain the lack of fish.

Then there is a third situation - a La Nina year - when cooler than usual waters well up near South America. These get blown westwards as the prevailing winds strengthen, and this causes cooler than usual surface waters across the Pacific. (more)

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Four More Cold Fronts Expected To Hit Panama

WeatherThe rain and low temperatures have been recorded in recently Panama are not caused by climate change, said two experts of Hydrometeorology of the Electricity Transmission Company SA (Etesa). They are the result, they said, of cold fronts that have been passing through the country. Cold fronts are defined as streams of cold air that collide with masses of warmer air, and they said that between now and March 2011 Panama could be affected by four more cold fronts. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: We currently have La Niña ENSO conditions in effect, which is causing all of the rain in Panama. You can expect a much wetter than normal "dry season" thanks to the La Niña conditions this year. These conditions are expected to remain in place through about the July, August, September time frame.

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Waterspout Causes Panic in Colon

Weather The residents of Colon were scared when a waterspout appeared just off shore this morning. Witnesses said the waterspout formed off the breakwater and moved into the area of the former Canal Zone, behind the ports and cranes in this sector, and fortunately a ship that was leaving the Gatun Locks interrupted the passage of the whirlwind, without causing damage to the vessel or its occupants. This waterspout endangered small watercraft and the people who were in the area for several minutes. (TVN Noticias)
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Panama Canal Authority Conducts "Controlled Water Spills" At Gatun and Madden Dams

WeatherThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) reported today they would continue "controlled water spills" from the Gatun and Madden Dams, as a preventative measure due to unusually high amounts of rainfall, in order to preserve the safety of surrounding communities and the facilities of the Panama Canal. At the Gatun Dam they opened four of the 14 gates, and flood gates at the Madden dam have also been opened but not to full capacity, according to reports from the ACP. In the case of the Gatun Dam the ACP has not stopped the passage of motor vehicles over the bridge that connects the towns from the "lower coast" of the province of Colon with the city of Colon. Meanwhile, the ACP asked the population through a press release to avoid transiting through the areas of the channel of the Chagres River or nearby areas, mainly in sectors downstream of the Madden Dam, in order to avoid effects caused by strong river currents or sudden changes in river level. People should be alert to the sound of sirens that indicate an impending water spill, recalled the institution in the statement. Upon hearing the sirens, people should leave the river immediately and move away to higher areas outside of the flood plains. (La Prensa)

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