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January 28, 2010

Torrential Peru rains strand 1000s at Machu Picchu

Here's a weather story that has not received as much press as it deserves: More than 2,000 tourists, including many foreigners, including Americans, remain stranded by heavy rains, flood waters and mudslides Urubamba River near Machu Picchunear the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, in the Peruvian highlands northwest of Cuzco.

The railroad that brings most tourists to the archaeological site from Cuzco has been washed out by a mudslide. Roads and bridges have been damaged, and the Peruvian government is cooperating with the U.S. and others in an effort to bring the tourists out by helicopter. It's not going well.

Food and water and other supplies are running short. So are some tempers. Crowds are being sheltered in hotels, hostels and public buildings. Some tourists are pitching in on sandbagging duty while they wait for a flight out. Some vacation.

More importantly, thousands of Peruvians are homeless or dealing with damaged homes in the wake of building collapses and other rain-related damage. Crops also have been inundated.

I have seen little of this in the big media. You have to drill down some to find CNN's report. And it says little or nothing about the damage and hardship being suffered by Peruvians.

These rains are the heaviest in many years in Peru. I suspect they can be attributed to the El Nino event underway in the tropical Pacific.

(AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:15 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Events


I hope the stranded tourists will be fine and also patient while the evacuations continue. I feel most for the people who live there - who will continue to rebuild their humble lives and homes after all the tourists have been evacuated. The marginalized people in all areas of Peru have it difficult under the best of circumstances, so imagine in times such as these. I've fallen in love with Peru and its people and have sent a boy from Cuzco to school and also started a non profit to help children in the Peruvian Amazon. For more information, please visit

I've been following this story because a friend just returned from Machu Picchu 2 weeks before the rains. It really is a tragedy. And the chaos, price gouging, lack of food, and delayed rescue response is a microcosm of a major natural disaster response organization. It is fortunate that no more people were killed, and that the younger tourists are willing to pitch in and help with clearing trails and sandbagging. In the end, it makes me marvel at the ancient people who lived there.
I've been reading your blog for several months and really enjoy it. This is what a blog should be - informative, friendly, not self-centered, not too much, compelling, and insightful. Thanks for a great blog, Frank!

FR: Thanks so much! As it happens, I spent a summer (their winter) in Peru with AFS when I was 17, and still have some ties to the family I lived with. My own family and I have booked a trip to Machu Picchu in March. We are now reconsidering.

I have planned a trip to Peru, Cusco this coming wednesday and have been following the news the last days. I really feel sorry for the people, who have lost homes, belongings and crops.....they had a lot of hardship even without this disaster. I have got a contact in Cusco, who says today that it is still safe and possible to go there - the sun has shined for 4 days now, so they believe and trust that the weather has turned. Now I will try to help as much as I can, while I am there.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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