As The Games Begin, Deadly Floods Threaten World Cup Host City

People commute to work through a flooded street in the Tacumbu neighborhood of Asuncion, Paraguay, CREDIT: A.P. Images
People commute to work through a flooded street in the Tacumbu neighborhood of Asuncion, Paraguay, CREDIT: A.P. Images

As Brazil and Croatia prepare to battle it out in Sao Paulo in the opening match of the World Cup this afternoon, thousands of Brazilians in the south of the country are picking up the pieces after torrential rains left a trail of destruction.

State officials have declared an emergency in 130 cities in the southern state of Parana as relentless rains, which started on Saturday have damaged nearly half a million homes and claimed at least 11 lives.

Curitiba, one of Brazil’s 12 host cities for the World Cup is one of the cities in the flood zone.

Nearly 500 people were evacuated from the city as the Spanish team arrived on Sunday. Iran is scheduled to play Nigeria in Curitiba’s Baixada Arena on Monday, followed by Spain versus Australia on June 23. Across the state of Parana more than 33,000 people were forced from their homes.


While deadly floods are not uncommon in Brazil, the timing of the latest deluge is bizarre. Flooding mostly occurs in Brazil during the summer rainy season. Brazil’s winter months, May to August, are usually mostly dry.

This is just the latest in a series of climate-related events that have plagued Brazil over the last few months as final preparations for the World Cup have been underway. January and February, which usually bring the year’s heaviest rains to the country, were extremely dry and hot, and sparked fears of water rationing and power shortages as hydroelectric reservoirs dwindled. Brazil depends on hydropower for two-thirds of its energy.

Brazil has also been battling a dengue fever epidemic. A dengue outbreak in Campinas, about an hour northwest of Sao Paulo, infected over 32,384 people and claimed at least three lives in late May. A recent report documented a quintupling of dengue fever cases in Latin America over the past 10 years, thanks in part to a changing climate.

More heavy rain is currently forecast for Friday.

As the climate changes, intense, heavy downpours are predicted to become more frequent. The air holds about 7 percent more moisture for every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature. That moisture can then be concentrated into fronts, which unleash torrential downpours when they encounter disturbances in the air or land.