Pat Shingleton: "Bone Dry"
The Atacama Desert is located in the upper reaches of Chile in South America. The desert extends from the Peruvian border to the town of Copiapo. To the west is the Pacific Ocean and to the east, the high central Andes, spanning 100 miles at its widest section. As noted in a previous column, the yearly precipitation amounts vary in the desert with the wettest locations receiving only 3 millimeters yearly. For 65 years the coastal town of Arica, on the northern section of the desert, yielded an average rainfall of 0.5 millimeter. From October 1903 through January 1918 not one drop of rain fell on Arica. It's the driest desert on Earth and December through March temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees. Tutunendo, Columbia, is the rainiest.