Brazil suffers an unprecedented cold snap

A new threat hangs over Brazilian cultures but also for the thousands of homeless people. Brazil suffered in its southern half a violent cold snap, unusual for the month of May. With 1.4°C in mercury, the capital Brasilia recorded on Thursday May 19 the coldest temperature in its historywhile the austral winter does not officially begin until the end of June.

In Sao Paulo (southeast), the largest megalopolis in Latin America, the thermometer showed 6.6°C on Wednesday morning, a record for a month of May since 1990, with a feeling of -4°C. A 66-year-old homeless man died on Wednesday after fainting while waiting in line at a food distribution center. According to Brazilian media, he had spent the night on the street.

Sao Paulo City Hall announced earlier this week the opening of 2,000 additional places in emergency accommodation sites, bringing the total capacity to around 17,000. But the economic capital of Brazil has nearly 32,000 homeless people, twice as many as in 2015 and 31% more than three years ago, before the coronavirus pandemic.

A cyclone at the origin of the cold wave

According to Estael Sias, a specialist with the meteorological agency Metsul, this cold wave “atypical for this time of year” is due au cyclone Yakecan, which affected southern Brazil and Uruguay and “pushed masses of polar air” further north, inland”. “This cyclone is an anomaly, which certainly falls within the framework of extreme events related to climate change“, she specifies.

The Inmet agency reported “possible consequences of the cold wave on Brazilian agriculture”, in a country considered one of the breadbaskets of the planet. Inmet’s press release mentions in particular risks of frost threatening market garden crops, but also corn or sugar cane harvests.

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