From NASA Earth Observatory: “In late August 2023, the “storm of the decade” dumped feet of snow over portions of the Andes Mountains. In Portillo Chile snowflakes started falling on August 19. Only four days later, accumulation was reported to be 150 cm (59 in/4.9 ft). By August 24, Ski Portillo Chile declared the storm’s total measured 250 cm (98.4 in/8.2 ft) and they were looking forward to fabulous skiing—once the roads were clear enough to allow traffic to reach the resort.”

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this false-color image of snowpack on the Andes Mountains on August 27. The border between Chile (west) and Argentina (west) runs along the high peaks.

In this type of false-color image infrared and visible light (MODIS bands 7,2,1) are combined to help separate water (deep blue) from vegetation (bright green), open land (tan or brown), snow (electric blue), and cloud (white).

The city of Santiago, Chile is visible as a brown circle near the western edge of the snow and surrounded by green vegetation. It sits just north and west of the center of the image. Portillo is not visible but is located in the mountains northeast of Santiago and buried under snow.

Chile superimposed over North American – it would stretch from central Canada to Mexico City. – image from the CIA fact book.

The country of Chile is the southernmost country in the world. It’s 2,670 miles long and (at its widest point) just 217 miles wide. It has just about every kind of climate – from the driest desert in the world (the Atacama) to the high snow-covered Andes Mountains that form a natural barrier with their neighbor to the east, Argentina. They do get earthquakes and an occasional volcano or tsunami. Nevado Ojos del Salado at 6,893 m is the highest volcano in the world.

Torre Costanera is one of the largest buildings in the southern hemisphere. The Metropolitan Park provides a nice view of the gondolas and the business center of Santiago, Chile.

The capital city of Santiago gets rain on an average of just 22 days a year (mainly in the winter) and an average of only 8.7″ annually. In the dry air, there is a larger than average difference from day to night. January is the warmest month (seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere) with an average high of 86° and an average low temp. of 55°. July brings an average high temperature of 59 and average low of 37°. The warmest temperature ever was 103° and the coldest was 20°.

Iquique in northern Chile has an interesting climate. It’s about the same size as Grand Rapids and is the driest big city in the world, with an average rainfall of just 0.03″. It rains a little about once every five years. With a constant wind off the Pacific Ocean, the temperature doesn’t vary much. In January the average high temperature is 78°, in July it’s 64°. The warmest temperature ever has been 92° and the coolest 46°.