World’s Driest Place

Andean Flamingos in the Altacama Desert

Andean Flamingos in the Altacama Desert (courtesy Wikipedia)

The world’s driest place? Chile’s Atacama Desert takes the dubious prize. Despite being very close to the Pacific Ocean, the world’s driest desert averages only 0.004 inches per year, which means that it would take a thousand years for the Atacama to receive an inch of precipitation! The mighty Andes Mountains steal almost all of the moisture from the Pacific, leaving the Atacama literally high and dry.

It’s extreme aridity makes California’s Mojave Desert, with its 1.7 inches per year annual precipitation, seem positively tropical. The Weather Channel had an interesting post about extreme weather yesterday.