Cruel winter in Patagonia continues: Massive losses of sheep (100 000 killed) because of intense snowstorms

Snowstorms and frosts in the region of Patagonia, Rio Negro province, could cause the death of 70% of the flock, according to Some parts of Andes have 7 meters of snow and higher Patagonian elevations are fighting with 1-2 meters of snow. Region has reported frosts up to -23°C during the winter.

Together with technicians from the Agriculture Technology Institute, INTA, officials made a first estimate of losses in the snow covered highlands next to the cordillera, but will have to wait until October to have a more exact estimate. “Any how we are talking of at least 100,000 sheep and 5,000 cattle”.

“We estimate that the worse losses are along the mountainous terrain between 1,000 and 1,300 meters above sea level (70%), while at sea level we can expect sheep mortality in the range of 30%”.

On the positive side, snow in the lower lands will help a strong resurge of pastures during spring. Nevertheless the main problem are the small farmers in the highlands who make some money out of wool and survive winter feeding on mutton.

Rio Negro province senator Alberto Weretilneck presented an initiative in Congress requesting an extraordinary economic aid for these farmers, “which is one of the conditions considered in the Sheep Farming Recovery Fund”, when there is an agriculture emergency caused by adverse climatic conditions. Besides the provincial agriculture emergency, the federal Agriculture and Livestock secretary also declared a similar condition. The lawmaker also proposed that wool exports from Rio Negro province should benefit from zero export duties, which currently stand at 5% and 7% for greasy wool.

Patagonia alives one from cruelest winter for last 20 years, minimally from the end of nineties.

Anomalous circulation during winter 2020, mainly strongly deep pressure easterly from continent caused lot of cold blasts, extreme frosts and snowfalls in region.

Cold conditions (overall for winter 2020) are reported from parts of Southern Africa and southern coast of Australia and Tasmania too.

These coldwaves are linked with Climate change and anomalous high pressure over Antarctica, which pushes cold air more northerly, over southern parts of continents. It is possible that it is a new trend for 21. century. These anomalies, however, are only regional “global warming holes”.

Situation in Patagonia is critical, at the sea level is reported 30%, above 1000 MASL 70% loss of sheeps:

Forecasted new snow cover over South America till 9. September 2020 /GFS:

Composites of geopotential (pressure in 850 hPa level) and temperature (1000 hPa level) above South America during the period 1.6.2020-20.8.2020 with emphasis to extremely deep low pressure easterly from Argentinian coast and strong negative anomalies of temperature above Patagonia /NOAA:

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Author: marekkucera
Writer about weather since 2007. The goal of this project is to inform a wide audience about extremes of weather, atmospheric circulation, and climate change around the world. If you like our work, you can support us on Patreon or donate.