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Atacama rainfall

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Quite surprised that the unusual rainfall and flooding last week in possibly the world's driest place hasn't received more attention, a quick overview of which can be found here - http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2944

Appropriately the article links the synoptic conditions with the Antarctic warmth at around the same time, though long term there would be expected to be a higher chance of precipitation with El Nino conditions which may be taking hold now. Data from the rather good Chilean met office site - Dirección Meteorológica de Chile shows that precipitation has differed from normal so far this year with very dry conditions in the wetter south as well as the desert rain - http://www.meteochile.gob.cl/inf_precipitacion.php


With regards to the Atacama rain they have compiled some data from the north of the country which shows it to be relatively localised (though it is a large area) with 4 of 18 stations listed recording a record March daily rainfall total  But it is significant due to how extremely dry the area is normally -  Iquique broke their March record since 1911 with a mere 0.3 mm!! - http://www.meteochile.gob.cl/js/PRECIPITACIONES_EN_EL_NORTE.pdf


This makes the reasonably wet near-inch rainfall at Antofagasta of 23.6 mm, which is the wettest March day since records began in 1919 seem almost diluvial, but it is a mind-numbingly dry location. Sure, they had a trace of rain in January but the last measurable rainfall was 1 mm over a couple of days last September. As for March the last trace of rain was in 2012 but the rainguage last came into action with 0.7 mm on March 31st 1992!!

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