The Metsul platform denied this Thursday (7) the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite (PSDB), after the head of the state Executive stated the previous day, on a TV program, that “mathematical models predicted the rains , in intensity, but they did not foresee the volume of around 300 millimeters in the various river basins in the North of the state, the Northwest region, the Mountain region, the Taquari Valley”.
In an official note, the meteorological study company assured that “the governor’s statement, unfortunately, is not valid”. Since Monday, Rio Grande do Sul has been counting the victims of the rains and floods that have left 39 people dead so far.
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“Warning that it could rain more than 300 mm”
After noting that “the time is to join forces” to help the victims of the climate disaster, Metsul, however, maintained that “the governor, in his speech, calls into question the work of Meteorology and, in effect, our work ”. And he went on to argue, stating that he was “the only weather forecasting entity to warn of the possibility of rain volumes above 300 mm in the Northern Half of Rio Grande do Sul at the beginning of September”. And he continued: “as in June, he was the only one to warn of extreme rainfall of 350 mm on the North Coast in the cyclone”.
Later, he noticed that, on August 31, five days before the catastrophe, he published a warning with the title: “September begins with extreme rain, waves of storms and floods”. He highlighted that the warning included a model projection of 300 mm to 500 mm in the Northern Half “and our warning that it could rain more than 300 mm”.
“Unprecedented precipitation scenario”
The following day, the 1st of this month, 72 hours before the disaster, he highlighted that he issued a new warning under the title “Alert: rain will come with exceptional volumes of up to 300 mm to 500 mm”. Continuing, he said that “the precipitation scenario for these first ten days of September is unprecedented in recent years”. Also according to the note, it stated that “accumulated rainfall in some cities in Rio Grande do Sul only during the first ten days of the month can practically reach the historical average of rainfall for the entire spring”, highlighting that “the situation is beyond conventional”.
He added that “the models thus anticipated rainfall volumes. The seriousness of what was coming was already known many days before. Meteorological science fulfilled its role”, he highlights. The full note can be seen on the Metsul website.
Brasil de Fato RS asked the governor’s office for a comment on Metsul’s note, but, at the time of writing this article, we still had no response.
Friction with journalist at GloboNews
Leite’s statements criticizing the predictions took place on GloboNews’ Em Pauta program, a space in which the governor became involved in a debate with journalist André Trigueiro.
In response, Trigueiro claimed that the same speech would end up being repeated by other politicians, even though similar situations had been repeated for years. He was interrupted by Leite criticizing what he interpreted as a “lack of empathy” with Rio Grande do Sul, reporting the state’s efforts to help people.
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“When an event of this scale occurs, of this order of magnitude of so much pain and suffering, it is our duty to ask questions. It’s my job”, countered Trigueiro. (…) And he continued: “I spoke about a culture of prevention, which cannot necessarily be resolved by pressing a button in four years. (…) I’m not blaming anyone.”
He mentioned that, for 30 years, he has been involved in covering similar cases, such as the tragedies in Petrópolis, in Rio, and Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais.
Leite complained that Trigueiro had not asked a question, but rather a comment, something that could be confirmed “because we are in the digital age and there is a record”. In contrast, the journalist responded that the governor should not victimize himself.
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Editing: Katia Marko