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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.

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When It Rains, It Floods

When It Rains, It Floods

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

In parts of South America's Atacama Desert it almost never rains. Any moisture that does arrive comes from cold fronts that pass over the Pacific Ocean, creating dense coastal fogs. Rare storms can hit this extremely arid region of Chile and recent downpours released a tsunami of mud and debris that flowed down the mountains. The storms can easily be described as almost Biblical for such a bone-dry region.


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

According to Chilean meteorologists, one such storm deluged the mining town of Calama which normally receives 0.2 inches of rainfall/per year and the town flooded. The region's capital, Antofagasta, received more than 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, became raging torrents. A local news video showcased the impacts.

A relevant question is the extent climate change may have amplified the storm's intensity in such a hyper-arid region. WHB

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