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Panama Gets Ready For "El Niño"
Weather Phenomenon

By Will Irvine

El Niño is a weather phenomenon causes heating of currents of the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmospheric disturbances.  It is characterized by little rain and is generally a very dry spell.  For Panama a very dry season is projected for the region of the Pacific specially in the area called the "dry arch" which starts in Capira and ends in the Azuero region.  This is very good news for the tourist industry but not so great for the agriculture industry already struggling from a very tough 2009.  On the Atlantic side rains will be very heavy much more so than the usual rainfall for that region.

el nino

The Azuero region is made up by the provinces of Herrera and Los Santos, some of the country's biggest agricultural producers.  Losses there from the dry spell caused by El Niño are estimated at $10 million dollars.  

To counteract and to guard against the effects of this weather phenomenon the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that since October of last year they have been building dams, mini-dams, watering holes, very deep wells, preparing silos for crop storage, among other things.  The Ministry of Agriculture also mentions that they have hired the company Aggreko International in a contract valued at $55 million to supply temporary electrical power and equipment to the state company EGESA.  

The government entity in charge of water supply, IDAAN, also announced contracts valued at $16 million for water tankers to ferry water throughout the country as urgent needs are identified.  

Panama periodically gets hit with phenomenon and the last it was a very strong version of El Niño in 1997-1998.  This year's edition is termed as mild.  In Panama the temperature will be affected increasing by 2 degrees over the average temperature for this season.  Another effect of the El Niño phenomenon is that the dry season will last longer than usual which is positive for the tourism industry as it it lengthens the peak season however it proves to be devastating for the agriculture and cattle industry which is preparing as bet possible for this dry spell. If you are planning to visit bring very light clothing and strong sunblock.

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