Tuesday 21 March 2023

Whirlwind unroofed houses, uprooted trees and left towns near the Los Angeles basilica without power

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21 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Three people required a trip to the hospital with injuries, as well as at least six houses were unroofed, trees uprooted and damaged cars caused by the whirlwind that shortly before 5 pm that affected the neighborhood of Los Angeles de Cartago.

Wálter Cordero, a merchant who sells in La Negrita store, on the southeast side of the Basilica de Los Angeles, reported that the second floor of a structure where the basilica’s bathrooms are located, as well as the awnings that were in the temple, flew off.

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He affirmed that it was a dry whirlwind, as it was not raining yet.

He added that all nearby stores suffered losses, but they have not yet been able to quantify them.

In addition to the zinc roof files and wiring, transformers exploded and power was cut until crews were able to make the repairs.

According to the mayor of that canton, Mario Redondo, it took only a few minutes for the whirlwind to generate extensive damage.

“It is the force of nature, luckily there were no deaths and we hope that the three injured will recover soon and that the electricity will be restored as soon as possible,” he said.

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The whirlwind affected activities programmed to mark the bicentennial of independence, as well as the mass in the basilica and other activities in the surroundings.

Adrián Gómez, another resident, says that from the Courts sector he saw the whirlwind coming. He relates that he has lived near the basilica for 50 years and had never seen anything like it. “It was a very strong scandal where he ripped off all the sheets,” he said.

Andrea Aguilar, Fire Department supervisor, stated that from 5 pm they mobilized several units to the sector, as well as on the route to Paraíso de Cartago, where they were also called for attention.

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She added that then came heavy rains that generated flooding in El Tejar de El Guarco and at 6:20 pm, as they continued to attend to the problems caused by falling trees and cables in various sectors.

At 7 pm, Sigifredo Pérez, director of Risk Management of the National Emergency Commission (CNE), reported that they attended some 20 flood events.

In addition to the canton of El Guarco, he mentioned that there were heavy rains in the north and the central and southern Pacific, as well as in Pérez Zeledón.

Recent phenomena

This Wednesday’s whirlwind arises a day after a smaller another formed in San Vicente de Santo Domingo de Heredia and unroofed several houses.

Similarly, on August 5, another similar phenomenon caused enormous damage in Santa Bárbara and Birrí de Heredia, where there were houses left unroofed and trees uprooted.

As meteorologist Roberto Vindas explained last month, these types of clouds can sometimes generate gusts that can lead to whirlwinds or tornadoes.

“What does it depend on whether or not this phenomenon can be classified as a tornado. It will depend on the speed of the gusts and also on the damage.

“The weakest tornado that can be found or of the lowest category is the F0, which produces slight damage and has maximum gusts that are between 105 to 137 km/h, which are quite strong gusts,” he summarized.

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