Flooding in the desert Natural Disasters
In one of the driest places on the planet, in the Atacama desert, fell a record share of rainfall, provoking a flood. Flows of dirty boiling water up to 2 meters high flooded the northern Chilean city of San Pedro de Atacama and Tonokao. Generally, any water flow, come down from the peaks of the Andes, by the evaporation turns into a trickle or completely disappears without reaching the limits of these cities. Almost all the water is absorbed by the salt marsh Salar de Atacama, located at an altitude of 244 meters below sea level.
This time the rain did not stop for four days. During this period, 40 mm of rain fell, causing Loa river burst its banks and flooded the coastal settlements. The region declared a "yellow alert". 800 local residents were forced to flee their homes. Fortunately, no casualties were reported.
In the Atacama dry period can last up to a year. So, in Monturaki they have seen rainfall for 12 years. The mountain rains occur frequently, especially in the summer. However, they rarely lead to serious flooding, similar to that which occurred in Chile at the end of February 2012. The people during unexpected large showers, so characteristic of the off-season, called "inverno boliviano".
Authorities assess the situation in San Pedro de Atacama and Tonokao as serious, as the water level in Loa is four times higher than normal, and the amount of rainfall three times more than usual. Especially dangerous are the rains are small settlements around San Pedro, because sandy soils do not absorb water and can drown these small towns in minutes.