NewsJune 26, 2014

Downpour Floods City Ahead of U.S. World Cup Match

Brian Kahn

By Brian Kahn

Follow @blkahn

The crucial World Cup match between the U.S. and Germany is slated to kick off at noon ET on Thursday in Recife, Brazil. But a sudden downpour has made it a challenge for fans to get the match, as the city's sewer systems have been overwhelmed.

According to Brazil's meteorological service, 3.4 inches of rain fell on Thursday in Recife, a city of 3.7 million in the northeast of the country. The Washington Post reported that 2.9 inches of that had fallen as of 9 a.m. and meteorologist Ryan Maue reported that the rains were isolated to coastal areas.RELATEDOf Brazil, the World Cup and Climate Change
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The rain quickly inundated Recife's sewers and drainage system, piling up shin deep water across the city. As traffic jams started to build, reports on Twitter indicate that U.S. soccer fans (and, it can be assumed, German fans as well) abandoned their vehicles and started walking for the stadium. Luckily the U.S. team had renowned adventurer Teddy Goalsevelt to guide them to the stadium.

Flooding in Recife. Teddy Goalsevelt guiding our car through the tough waters. Onwards to the stadium!

— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 26, 2014

While the amount isn't necessarily as eye-popping as the severe rains seen in Pensacola, Fla., or the Balkan states earlier this year, the power of the downpour is abnormal for this time of year. Heavier rain is more likely in March and April for Recife, though even then, moderate precipitation is more likely. And this rain comes just weeks after another major deluge flooded southern Brazil, sending record amounts of water tumbling over Igauzu Falls.

The heavy rain is also a bit of precipitation whiplash for Brazil as it fell against the backdrop of a major drought that has gripped parts of the country, including areas around Sao Paulo and an inland section of the northeastern part of the country. A lack of rain during the wet season in those locations reduced crop outputs and sent coffee prices soaring globally. It also prompted worries that there could be blackouts during the World Cup due to low reservoir levels. The coastal nature of Thursday's storm means the inland areas that need the rain the most will stay parched.

An increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy downpours is a hallmark of climate change. The U.S. has already seen a major uptick in the amount of rain falling during intense downpours since the 1950s and that trend is expected to continue and be mirrored globally in the coming decades.

This is a member of FIFA testing the pitch, not John Cleese.

— Cindy Boren (@CindyBoren) June 26, 2014

U.S. soccer fans might not be thinking much past noon on Thursday, though, when the match against Germany is scheduled to kickoff. FIFA officials have tested the field and greenlighted the match. Now the question is how many fans will be there for kickoff (and of course if the U.S. will win).

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