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Snow comes to Atacama desert

Up to 31.5 inches (80 cm)

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7 Jul 11 - Here's an amazing video


"Greetings from the Netherlands," says reader Argiris Diamantis. "To my surprise the news about the snowfall in the Atacama desert, Chile, was on the news on Dutch television. Here is an English language link.

A cold wave in Chile has brought snow to the Atacama desert, considered the driest place on earth. The region has not seen this amount of snow in close to 20 years.

According to the national emergency center in Chile, some areas received up to 31.5 inches (80 cm) of snow, leading to closed roads. Local authorities rescued 36 Bolivians from a bus trapped in heavy snow after enduring 48 hours without food in the freezing conditions.

Located in the north of Chile, the Atacama Desert normally receives less than 50mm of rain per year, with some weather stations in the region reporting only 1-3mm of rain per  year. 

According to NASA, National Geographic and many other publications, the Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world. This is due to the rain shadow on the leeward side of the Chilean Coast Range, as well as a coastal inversion layer created by the cold offshore Humboldt Current.

Meanwhile, the temperature in Santiago, Chile dropped to as low as -8.5 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.  

Other countries in Latin America such as Uruguay and Argentina have also been affected by the cold front.

Indeed, temperatures over much of middle-latitudes South America have been averaging 5-10 C below normal for the past week.

Also see several photos:
Thanks to Brian Payne, Tom McHart, John Kampen, Argiris Diamantis, Jeff Rense, James Logan, Laurel and John Brown in Ardrossan, Scotland for these links

And here's another video:

"As I understand the driest place on earth is not the Atacama desert but a part of Antarctica, where the air is so cold it cannot contain water vapour," says Argiris.




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