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File photo of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Alamy Stock Photo
la nina

Heat and cold records broken in just five days in Argentina

The South American country this week battled its eighth heat wave so far this summer.

ARGENTINA BROKE RECORDS for heat and cold within a short window of just five days this week, with temperatures plummeting 30 degrees Celsius as a heatwave gave way to historic snowfalls.

A cold front from Patagonia caused temperatures in Buenos Aires to drop from a high of 38.1 Celsius last Sunday to only 7.9 Celsius on Thursday – a record low for the month of February since 1951, the National Meteorological Service reported.

The lowest ever was 4.2 degrees Celsius in 1910.

The South American country this week battled its eighth heatwave so far this summer with temperatures shooting up to nearly 40 degrees Celsius in the center and north.

But in the same week, on Friday, snow fell for the first time since records began in the low peaks of the Sierra de la Ventana mountains some 560 kilometers west of the capital Buenos Aires, with a minimum of -4 degrees Celsius recorded in the town of the same name.

Record February lows were also recorded elsewhere as a mass of cold air from the South Pole entered central Argentina after crossing the Andes from neighboring Chile, according to meteorologist Christian Garavaglia.

In just five days, Buenos Aires’s streets turned from sunny to grey, from people wiping off sweat to donning coats.

The “extreme variability” was likely caused by a strong La Nina weather phenomenon, said Garavaglia.

He said La Nina causes the air and soil to be drier than usual, which makes for more extreme temperature swings.

Last week, Argentina issued health warnings to nine southern and central provinces due to the country’s eight heatwave this summer.

Over the past decade, Argentina has never seen more than four or five such heat waves per season, the country’s National Meteorological Service said.

While occasional heat waves are normal, climate change has made them “more persistent and more intense” on every continent, even in Argentina’s mountainous Patagonia region, meteorologist Enzo Campetella told AFP.

The La Nina cycle of the El Nino weather phenomenon brought historically high temperatures throughout Argentina last year, leading to crop losses estimated at some $10 billion (€9.3 billion), according to the Rosario Grain Exchange.

© AFP 2023

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