Snow is a welcome sight in the Andes mountains •

Snow is a welcome sight in the Andes mountains

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a blanket of fresh snow across the Andes mountains between Chile and Argentina.

“As extreme summer heatwaves deepened droughts and fueled wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere, winter storms brewed south of the equator,” reports NASA.

“In July 2022, back-to-back weather systems eased rainfall deficits in central Chile and added to the snowpack atop the Andes—a critical reserve of water for the coming summer.”

The precipitation is much needed, as this region has been suffering from a decade-long drought that has left many of the Andes mountains without snow cover. NASA explains that despite La Niña conditions offshore that typically bring dry winters, the area received heavy rain and snowfall. 

“The storms were the result of a blocking anticyclone atmospheric pattern near the Antarctic Peninsula that steered several extratropical cyclones toward Chile. Two weather systems -on July 9–10 and July 14–15 – dumped rain along the coast and snow in mountains,” says NASA.

“According to news reports, the storms left hundreds of people stranded in a mountain pass, where more than one meter of snow accumulated on the roads.”

René Garreaud is a scientist at the University of Chile. He noted that prior to the storms, north-central Chile was experiencing one of its driest winters on record. 

In Santiago, the rainfall deficit declined from 70 percent to 27 percent. “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,” said Garreaud.

As water deficits eased in places, Garreaud said he hopes it will reduce the odds of a water shortage next summer. “This is our savings account for next summer.”

The image was captured on July 16 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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