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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

When It Rains, It Floods

When It Rains, It Floods

Localized extreme rainfall in the Atacama desert, Chile (credit: Wikicommons)

In parts of Chile's Atacama Desert it almost never rains. Any moisture that does arrive develops from cold fronts over the Pacific Ocean, typically as dense fog. That all changed during several, massive storms that hit this extremely arid region in recent years. The resulting downpours released a tsunami of mud and debris that could only be described as Biblical for such a bone-dry region.


         Atacama Desert Landscape near Antofagasta, Chile and Regional Map   (credit: Wiki-commons)

According to Chilean meteorologists, the mining town of Calama typically receives 0.2 inches of rainfall/per year and it flooded during the extreme storm. The region's capital, Antofagasta, normally received over an inch of rain in a city that normally expects .07 inches, or more than 10 times its yearly average. Creek beds from the nearby Andes mountains, that haven't seen a trickle in decades, have now become raging torrents. A local video illustrated the situation.

A relevant question would be the extent climate change amplified the storms in such a hyper-arid region of South America. WHB

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