Paraguay’s Weather History
In May 2009, the Paraguayan government declared a state of emergency after a severe drought left approximately 185,000 people without the basic necessities for life.
The drought had a lasting and devastating effect on the country. The El Niño and La Niña phenomena propelled the arid conditions to a catastrophic length. The drought not only affected Paraguay’s rivers, the country’s chief water supply, it also directly affected crops used for cattle food. Soy plantations were all but lost in some regions. According to the National Emergency Secretariat, over 60% of the population in affected areas live beneath the poverty line. Today, these communities continue to struggle to grow enough food and find enough water to survive.
In 2007, the country declared a national emergency after wildfires, brought on by drought conditions and widespread land-clearing, devastated forests and large areas of agricultural land.
Data Rescue Begun
To reduce loss of life and property due to natural disasters, Paraguay has partnered with IEDRO to rescue historic weather records from its observation sites.
In December 2009, Rick Crouthamel began a dialogue with the National Meteorological Service of Paraguay for setting up a data rescue and digitization (DR&D) project. To establish a new data rescue project, Rick, Larry Nicodemus, Patti Martin, and Monica Drazba visited in mid-April, 2010. The visit successfully started up data rescue and digitization efforts at the site.
Paraguay has at least 25 conventional weather stations distributed around the country’s 406,000 square kilometers. These conventional stations have graphical records (strip charts) of rainfall, atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and in some cases, wind speed and direction. More than eight stations have documented over 50 years of continuous records.
The remaining sites have records with missing data, but 15 of those sites have documented at least 30 years of data. Paraguay has also maintained some very old records, including thirty years of observations by Moises Bertoni, the former Swiss scientist who initiated meteorological study in Paraguay at the end of the 19th century.
National Bureau of Civil Aviation
After initial discussions with the Director of the Dirección de Meteorología e Hidrología, Julian Báez, at the National Bureau of Civil Aviation (DINAC), the IEDRO team met with the President of DINAC (a cabinet-level position, appointed by the President of Paraguay), Ceferino Farias Servin.
The IEDRO team met with Lawyer Ceferino Farias Servin for over half an hour, during which time the importance of DR&D support to the meteorological service was expressed by the Secretary of Aviation. This was the first time IEDRO provided direct information to such a high-level government official—the equivalent of a US Cabinet Secretary. Without embellishing the facts, we complimented the support received so far from Engineer Julián Báez and his National Meteorological Service in getting things ready for the start of the new DR&D project.
Presentation to Climatology Section at Department of Meteorology and Hydrology Center in Sajonia
Director Báez introduced the team to the heads of the different divisions in the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology. Dr. Crouthamel and Mr. Nicodemus described the DR&D process in detail to Engineer Rodriguez and his staff, who will be doing most of the DR&D work.
The IEDRO team visited the archive rooms and was able to view the kinds of data to be rescued.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo
Language: Spanish, Guaraní
Religion: Roman Catholic, other Christian
Median age: 24.9 years
Life expectancy: 75.99 years
GDP per capita: $4,100/year
Industries: Sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products, steel, metallurgic, electric power
Economy: Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy distinguished by a large informal sector, featuring reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis.
Reference: CIA World Handbook: Paraguay