A mass of cold polar air has brought freezing weather to much of South America, with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Bolivia experiencing below-zero temperatures and frosts, according to media reports.
Argentina and particularly the region of Tucumán (the nation’s lemon-growing hub) appears to be one of the hardest-hit areas, with temperatures falling to -3oC and -4oC, according to Tucumán publication La Gaceta.
Infobae.com has also reported that a blizzard struck Tucumán on Friday 24 June, bringing conditions not recorded since 1920.
While the impact on Tucumán’s crops has yet to be evaluated, La Gaceta said the first observations point towards damage on a small area, with the sugar cane crop likely to only incur any losses.
Quoting the local meteorological agency, La Gaceta added that the frosts this year will have less of an impact as those in 2010 when “numerous losses” were recorded in the lemon, blueberry and sugar cane industries.
The Brazilian state of Santa Catarina – an important apple-producing area – has also experienced wind chills of -25oC, according to Infobae.com.
The National Meteorological Service in Argentina claims the unusual weather pattern will persist this week until at least Thursday 2 July.
In Tucumán, however, the local weather agency predicts further frosts of greater intensity and duration for this weekend, La Gaceta said.
Energy usage has apparently reached record levels in Argentina as a result of the cold snap.
A similar cold front plunged South America into freezing conditions in July last year.