In August 1615, a Dutch pirate fleet under Joris Van Spilbergen threatened the city of Lima. According to legend, a nun called Sister Rosa, whose original name was Isabel Flores de Oliva, prayed for deliverance. A tremendous storm blew up just as the pirates were sailing in to sack the city and scattered their fleet.
The storm was hailed as a miracle, and Sister Rosa became the first person born in the Americas to be canonised. She is patron saint of embroidery, gardening, the Americas, and the city of Lima. The seasonal storms that blow up on the Peruvian coast at this time of year are known as the Tormentas de Santa Rosa or Saint Rosa’s storms. These traditionally occur 15 days either side of the saint’s day on 30 August.
Meteorologists attribute the storms to the meeting of the first warm winds of spring with cold fronts. In particular, this time of year marks the start of the low layer jet stream transporting humid air across South America from the Atlantic.
And while the meteorologists say that the storms are not reliable, others believe they are an annual occurrence. This now includes local skiers, who reckon that Santa Rosa can be relied on to deliver the first heavy snowfall of the season.