It may seems contradictory, and indeed it is. In the midst of the biggest water supply crisis, São Paulo, Brazil ‘s financial capital, has faced last Sunday May 18 a hailstorm rarely seen in the city. Around 4pm, residents of several neighbourhoods were surprised with ice cubes, which in a few minutes have taken the streets and sidewalks.
After 32 days without rain, for everyone’s surprise the hail storm happened. The result was flooding and streets and airports closed. According to Nicole Oliveira, team leader for 350.org in Latin America, the explanation for an extreme weather event like this is the change that the climate suffers as a result of human interference. “Sao Paulo, increasingly sealed by concrete and lack of green areas is the ideal scenario for what is called heat island, leaving the climate more favourable to extreme weather events such as major floods or hailstorms like what happened this weekend”.
To get an idea of the magnitude of the climate event, the following day to the storm, the municipality collected 310 tons of hail from the streets.
“Climate change brings not only the increase in temperature, but also heat and cold waves, heavy precipitation, floods, droughts, and other climate extremes,” says Nicole. Data from scientific community says that while the average global temperature increased by 0.8° C in the last 200 years, Brazil can be increased by up to 6° C over the next 100 years.
Nicole reminds that events like this do not just happen in São Paulo, but also in other cities of the country. “To deal with climate change the government must react with efficient public policies such as the creation of green areas and reduction of individual transport. It is necessary to commit to the reduction of greenhouse gases arising mainly from deforestation, agribusiness and energy sector. Without that the population will increasingly suffer”.
Hail versus water supply crisis
Surprising by itself, this weather event happens while São Paulo’s population suffers from the worst crisis of water supply on the city’s history. The reservoir Cantareira, responsible for supplying water to a great part of São Paulo, has reached this month the lowest level in its history, 8.2% of its total capacity. According to data from the National Water Agency, if the rainfall continues at current levels, at least 14 million people could be without water in the coming months.