The storm was particularly fierce to the north and northwest of the country where recently sheared sheep flocks could not resist the cold and constant water downpour, following an exceptional winter week in which temperature had reached 30 Celsius.
According to the regional chief from the Uruguayan Wool Secretariat Adolfo Casaretto, an estimated 30.000 sheep (ewes and lambs) so far have been reported in the northern counties of Salto, Tacuarembó, Paysandú and Artigas.
In the north-western county of Salto, 9.769 deaths were reported. Farmer Walter Galliazzi said that although the sheep had been sheared 25 days ago, “they could not stand the 200 mm of downpour plus low temperatures and strong winds”.
In neighbouring Tacuarembó county over 5.000 ewes and lambs were lost, but the president of the local rural association, Jose Luis Tuneu said the figure could be closer to 10.000.
Meanwhile the consequences of the storm triggered a strong controversy between Uruguay’s Executive Deputy Secretary Diego Cánepa and a south Brazilian weather site, MetSul, mostly used by farmers, surfers and tourism operators in Uruguay. (The Uruguayan Meteorological Office has been on strike for almost six months now demanding better pay and working conditions and is not considered so reliable).
Canepa claimed that the media had picked on MetSul forecasts and had over blown the impact of the storm, and argued in his twitter that “it is a new weather pattern that Uruguay is suffering” and that is why “it was so surprising”.
“Irresponsible” was the immediate response from MetSul which argued there was “nothing new about weather. We have over a century of records on storms and shipwrecks”.
The Rio Grande do Sul MetSul site added “We are involved with Science, not Politics. Ignoring the climate records of the past is the best way to disastrously plan the future”.
President Jose Mujica also got involved in the controversy but from a different angle. He anticipated farmers would come rushing for losses’ compensation money from the treasury, “but I can’t give out peoples’ money to farmers and their organizations that have been repeatedly advised for years, to create an emergency fund for this type of climatic phenomena”.
Source | MercoPress