BOGOTA – A rare hailstorm beset Bogota, causing rush hour traffic chaos and power outages in parts of the city, along with some damage, although no injuries were reported, authorities said.
A rain- and hailstorm began about 6:20 pm on Wednesday in northern Bogota and lasted about an hour, with authorities going on alert to deal with any resulting problems.
The capital’s emergency network reported that the storm affected mainly the areas of Suba, Usaquen, Chapinero, Teusaquillo, Engativa and Martires, all in the greater metro area.
In addition, the network said that flooding had occurred at at least 17 spots around the capital.
Meanwhile, the Bogota Transportation Secretariat said on its Twitter account that the rain and hail had “suppressed” operations of the Transmilenio mass transit system.
The hailstorm also knocked down trees and cut electric power to portions of the Usaquen tourist district, which added to the traffic chaos because many stoplights ceased functioning.
Videos were circulated on the social networks showing vehicles that stalled in high water, and along Caracas Avenue, one of the city’s most heavily-traveled thoroughfares, blocks of ice were shown floating in the rainwater, an unprecedented image in Bogota.
Authorities reported that part of the National Theater Foundation building collapsed, damaging two nearby vehicles.
In addition, at the Northern Cantonment, where Bogota’s main military unit is housed, the storm knocked over at least four meters (yards) of a wall surrounding the facility.
The head of the Ideam weather research institute’s forecasting and alert service, Christian Euscategui, said that despite the intensity of the downpour “what happened is part of the November rainy season and so it’s normal for heavy precipitation to occur.”
He added that “since the end of October there’s been an increase in humidity and a change in the wind direction ... near the ground.”