‘Unusual’ Levels of Snow Cause Traffic Problems in Chile

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Public service worker or citizen shoveling snow during heavy winter blizzard

In the article, “Cold Front Hits Eight Regions in Chile,” Chile Today reports unusual amounts of precipitation, much of it in the form of snow, fell across much of the country, snarling traffic and causing power outages.

“Severe climate conditions have struck Chile during this second week of July. Alongside the unusual snow that woke up parts of the Metropolitan, O’Higgins, Maule, Ñuble, and Biobío Regions on Thursday, July 14; Atacama, Coquimbo and Valparaíso have been struggling with hard rains and low temperatures,” reports Chile Today.

The snowfall was so heavy and snowpack so deep at Chile’s border with Argentina that the military was called in to clear accidents blocking traffic and to rescue people trapped in their vehicles by snow.

NASA reports that the snowfall which blanketed much of the Andes in Argentina and Chile this past week should prove welcome news to people in the region.

Despite leaving several hundred people stranded in mountain passes where as much as three feet of snow accumulated in a relatively short time period, “[t]he precipitation brought at least some temporary relief to an area suffering a decade-long drought.”

“‘Until 10 days ago, north-central Chile was experiencing one of its driest winters,’” René Garreaud, a scientist at the University of Chile, told NASA. “‘These rapid changes are not unusual in arid regions, where the bulk of the annual accumulation is accounted for by a handful of frontal systems.’”

Garreaud told NASA that he hopes the heavy snowfall will reduce the chances for water shortages in the coming summer because the people in the region depend on meltwater from the accumulated snowpack for agriculture, drinking water, and power generation.

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