Not ready for the rain, in northern Chile

The past weekend’s precipitation blocked highways, forced the cancellation of a top Chilean football match and damaged the homes of 1,800 people, said Vicente Nunez, chief of the Interior Ministry’s national emergency office.

A similarly wet stretch in early July dumped four years’ worth of rain in one day on coastal Antofogasta. That was just a quarter of an inch (more than 6.3 millimeters) but it was still enough to cause collapsed or leaking roofs in homes and businesses that usually have no reason to protect themselves against even minimal precipitation.

…Average annual rainfall in the northern city of Arica is so low that it would take 50 years to accumulate an inch. This July, the city was swamped twice by what would be considered mild showers almost anywhere else on the planet. So far this year, Arica has had 0.13 inch (3.4 millimeters) of rain, more than six times its yearly average during 30 years of record keeping.

Here is more, interesting throughout.  Of course it reminds me of David Friedman’s famous piece.


Children in Chile are taught in school that it never rains in the north of the country. In fact, many cars there do not even bother having windshield wipers. I can see how people would not even be aware of the leaks in their roofs.

The upside is that, whenever it rains in the north of Chile, a few milimieters a couple of times a decade, the seeds scatered in the desert for years waiting for such moisture bloom into flowers, which is quite a spectacle. People will travel from afar to see the "blossoming desert" when that happens.

We notice a similar effect in the U.S.: in Northern Virginia, for example, schools close and people stockpile milk and bread after receiving what Buffalo or Grand Rapids would call a "light dusting" of snow.

Vicente Núñez is the correct spelling.

Comments for this post are closed