Updated 09:55 AM EDT, Thu, Jun 04, 2020

El Niño Phenomenon Causing Serious Repercussions for Colombia’s Christmas Lights

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The El Niño phenomenon in Colombia has gotten worse up to the point that the South American country's electricity supply is compromised.

The Washington Post reported from the Associated Press that a strong El Niño in Colombia has led to a severe drought and officials now fear that they will have to empty reservoirs that are used to generate the country's electricity. This year alone, 238 cities across Colombia have to resort to rationing electricity.

President Juan Manuel Santos urged Colombians to limit their water use, while some officers even encouraged citizens to only take 30-second showers, the Washington Post added. However, the most controversial energy-saving effort has been the restraint of Christmas light displays, which are prevalent among homes and other establishments during the holiday season.

Santos' administration chose not to decorate public buildings with Christmas lights, and a number of shopping malls adhered to the government's call to lessen their holiday displays. Miguel Angel Abril, a doorman in the capital's Usaquen tourist area where visitors go to see the lights in its main park, said that the reduction has dimmed holiday cheer, adding that "the neighborhood is sadder" and "less people come," the news outlet noted.

Medellin, Colombia's second largest city, has lessened by an hour per day its stunning light display that adorns churches, parks, and the city's river, the Washington Post further reported. Esteban Duque, the manager of the celebration, said that dimming 32 million bulbs used in the display sums up to 15 percent of energy savings, which is a rate that the whole metropolitan region's 4 million people normally consume in the same time period.

However, Duque turned down a proposal to entirely end the display because it would be more harmful than the damage placed on the power grid, the Washington Post added. He continued, "It's worse off not having the lights because it's something that generates 2,000 jobs that families depend on."

El Niño is "a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns," Live Science wrote. It is caused by waters warming in the Pacific Ocean that causes changes in rainfall patterns, leading to heavy flooding in the southern part of the Earth's hemisphere. Since August, rainfall in South America's northern areas, such as Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Brazil, has averaged 50 percent or less of normal levels, the Washington Post added.

Now that reservoir levels are low, the Colombian government upped electricity rates to increase production of fuel-based power plants and avoid blackouts, the Washington Post noted.

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