Guatemala and El Salvador – Tropical Storm ‘Amanda’ Triggers Floods and Landslides

The government in El Salvador has declared a state of emergency after Tropical Storm Amanda caused devastation and at least 14 fatalities.

Floods in El Salvador after heavy rain brought by Tropical Storm Amanda, 31 May 2020. Photo: Government of El Salvador

Amanda made landfall in Guatemala on 31 May bringing very heavy rainfall and maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h. The storm caused significant damage and flooding in areas of Guatemala and El Salvador, where there are reports of at least 14 fatalities. Four people are thought to be missing. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele declared a 15-day national state of emergency due to devastation caused by the storm.

According to figures from the country’s environment ministry (MARN), in a 15 hour period on 31 May, Santa Cruz Porrillo in San Vincene department recorded 153.8mm of rain. During the same period, Berlin in Usulutan department recorded 134.8mm and Tepezontes in La Paz department 106mm.

Flooding was reported in several areas of the country, including in Sonsonate, La Libertad and San Salvador departments, including Ilopango and the national capital city San Salvador. In a preliminary report from Civil Protection, more than 200 homes have been flooded. Shelters have been set up to house those forced from their homes by the storm.

In Guatemala, authorities set up shelters throughout the country to house those at risk. As of late 31 May, Civil Protection (CONRED) reported almost 600 people had evacuated and a total of 44,000 people had been affected by the storm. In addition, 350 houses were damaged, along with several roads and 3 bridges.

More Flooding Rain Expected in Central America

Within a few hours of making landfall the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression and has since weakened to a tropical rainstorm. As of 01 June, Amanda was located inland in Guatemala, near the border with the Mexican state of Yucatan and is forecast to move north west.

Further heavy rainfall is expected in the wake of the storm, threatening flash flooding and landslides across Central America. The NWS National Hurricane Center (NHC) said isolated maximum amounts of 20 to 25 inches (500mm to 635 mm) are possible in El Salvador, southern Guatemala, Tabasco, and Veracruz. This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

There is also a possibility that the storm’s remnants could form into a new tropical depression should it move over water. NHC said: “If the remnants move back over water, environmental conditions appear conducive to support some development, and a new tropical depression could form while the system moves little through the middle of this week.”

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