The cold is so strong that to leave home they must wear a wool cap, gloves, scarf, sweater and, just in case, carry an umbrella by hand. Those who live in Cutuglagua, a neighborhood located on the border with the canton Mejía, know for sure that nowhere else in Quito is it as cold as in the south. And the statistics corroborate it. The National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, Inamhi, has four stations in the Metropolitan District that measure, among other things, the amount of rainfall and temperature.
Of these, the one located in Izobamba records what happens in the south that of Iñaquito registers the north. So far this year, the Izobamba station is the one that shows the lowest rates in terms of temperature. In many cases, even, it has registered the lowest measurement in the country. That is to say, there are days when it has been cooler in the south of the capital than in popular cities because of its icy climate such as Riobamba and Tulcán. That, during the first quarter, occurred in 10 days. On January 4 a temperature of 3 ° was recorded. On the 11th of that month, the thermometer marked just 2 ° and on February 25 it was 2.4 °. Cutuglagua is 3 100 meters high.
It is a mountainous area where not all streets are paved. The rains there are torrential, so the dirt roads become muddy and people must leave the house, also with covers in their shoes or rubber boots.
Carmen Arias, 58, has lived there since 2002. When she arrived, the first thing that surprised her, she recognizes, was the cold. She used to live in La Ofelia, but her husband, who works in construction, managed to buy land in the south and built a mediagua. Several nights he could not sleep. His knees and hands ached. Until a neighbor gave him the secret: put newspaper between the blankets of his bed to keep the heat. Now she is used to the weather, but she recognizes that there are days when the sheets seem to be wet from having accumulated so much cold.
Pablo Llerena, Inamhi forecast specialist, explains that altitude is precisely one of the reasons why the temperature in the south is lower. Usually in the south they can register between 4 ° and 6 ° less than in the north. Llerena explains that all the temperature data recorded by the entity are taken under shade, inside a box, but the thermal sensation of the person abroad is one or two degrees lower.
The coldest days, explains Llerena, occur when in the morning hours the sky has been clear. When there is no cloudiness, there is an exit of energy and the heat accumulated the previous day escapes, so the earth’s surface cools. When there is cloudiness, on the other hand, the energy is conserved. Also, when there are strong winds in the morning the temperature decreases. According to Rasa Zalakeviciute, professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of the Americas, altitude is a determining factor for temperature. In the south, he explains, there are neighborhoods that are more than 3,000 meters above sea level, while in the north, there are sectors that are 2,400 meters above sea level. There are, he says, over 600 meters difference between one area and another, and for each kilometer 6 ° C temperature is lost.
The zones with greater cold, and greater presence of rains, he warns, are also sectors with less solar radiation. The presence of vegetation, he points out, is key in the topic of climate, since it allows to balance the temperature and does not let heat or cold accumulate in excess.
Temporary in the city
Inamhi statistics also show that in the south it rains more than in the north.
This is how it happened this week. On Monday (April 9, 2018), for example, 4.7 milliliters fell in Izobamba, that is, liters of water per square meter, while in the north it was 0.2 ml, and in the valley it did not rain. Juan Zapata, secretary of Security of the District, assures that the winter of this 2018 is less strong than the one of the last year. From September 2016 to April 2017 there were 590 emergencies, in the same period 2017-2018 there were 303: 49% less. The number of fatalities went from 1 to 5. Four died in a traffic accident on the Calacalí-La Independencia road, due to a landslide, in addition to the worker who died after the collapse of a wall last week. (I)