Altiplanic Winter in Northern Chile
Northern Chile has a diverse and interesting geography and landscape. One of them is the Altiplano, a wide plateau located at 4,000 meters above sea level, next to the Andes Mountains. In general, the north of Chile is characterized by a dry and desert-like climate. However, in the Altiplano there is an interesting phenomenon called "Invierno Altiplánico" (Altiplanic Winter), which brings heavy rain during the summer months.
Multiple and complex factors that interact perfectly are required to cause rain in the driest zone of Chile. High temperatures coming from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay meet masses of humidity that are dragged from the Atlantic Ocean over the Amazon and ascend onto to the Chilean Altiplano, causing storms and rainfall.
The regions that are usually most affected are Arica and Parinacota as well as Tarapacá and locations such as Visviri, Putre, Colchane and Toconao. Usually the clouds advance until reaching even some pre-mountainous localities and the valleys of the Atacama Desert, such as San Pedro de Atacama, Calama and the Azapa Valley.
Although it does not rain during all summer afternoons in the Altiplano, there are occasions when these rains can cause river swells and affect roads and the infrastructure. It is therefore important to check the weather reports and act with the corresponding caution if you are travelling through the area during the summer months, January and March.