Chile’s Atacama desert also known as the driest desert on Earth is in full bloom thanks to El Niño, which brought a year of unprecedented rainfall. The Atacama desert is also known as the second-driest place on Earth, with the Antarctic being the first.
Usually the desert is completely dry in regular years. It is called the driest desert on earth because not a single droplet of water touched it for 173 straight months at the beginning of last century. And its surroundings don’t fare any better. In some cities, the annual rainfall is 0.07 inches.
But when El Niño kicks in the region flourishes. This spring, powerful storms brought 0.96 inches of rainfall to the region in only a single day. The number may not sound impressive but this is how much the desert gets in 14 years of rain. The rainfall was so intense that an otherwise dry river expanded beyond its bed and killed nine people in one day.
But as El Niño builds up more power, so do rains in Latin America. And as Atacama desert is located near the warmest patch of ocean water on the planet, the coastal areas contribute with sufficient water vapor to the extreme wet weather events.
Delicate mallow flowers now cover entire patches of the desert. The flowers usually bloom every five to seven years when El Nino emerges. But botanists said that they never saw such a dense and spectacular flower carpet in nearly two decades.
The lowest and hottest region in the U.S., the Death Valley, is also in bloom during this time of year. Early this month, weather stations reported a record 0.55 inches of rainfall, marking the day as the wettest 24-hour period the region has ever seen in the month of October.
Additionally, Oct. 18 a flash flood wreaked havoc throughout Death Valley National Park and forced authorities to close down the place’s main tourist attraction – Scotty’s Castle. The building was so damaged that it was closed for a year. This means that the castle won’t be open to tourists this winter, or the busiest season of the year.
Locals said that a storm came close to the castle and poured close to three inches of rainfall in less than five hours. The castle also known as the ‘Death Valley Ranch,’ which was build during the ‘roaring 20s as a vacation getaway, was hit with debris and mud and it may require millions of U.S. dollars for repairs.
Image Source: Thelastsigns