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Old 12-27-2013, 01:19 AM
 
Location: HERE
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Discussion about our current drought and unlikely outlier events make me wonder:

While Los Angeles and San Diego routinely go months without any rain in the summer and early fall, towns in the Atacama desert; Iquique and Arica, Chile can easily go years without seeing a drop of rain. Iquique - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arica - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If the ridge of high pressure that blocks rain from reaching California in the summer stays put all winter (as it has this winter, so far), could the Southern California coastline have a few years that mimic the Atacama's climate? It is located facing the same cold Pacific ocean that blocks warm moisture from reaching the coast. Could Southern California's guarantee of at least some winter rain go away during a massive mega drought?

If so, it would become the northern hemisphere's "equivilant" of the Atacama (which also has the marine layer with fog) temporarily.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:05 PM
 
Location: HERE
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My guess is that it would be marginally possible just for a year or two. I mean, based on 2013's precipitation totals for Los Angeles and San Francisco, both cities would be reclassified as "mild deserts" rather than Mediterranean. Just take away the few weather systems that manage to break through the ridge- and there you go- a year without rain.
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Chemnitz, Germany previous in AZ, CA, AL, NJ,
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One month after this thread was posted, it looks like we are headed for an Atacama-like winter season. I've been to Iquique and Arica in northern Chile, and also to the coast of Peru. There is almost no vegetation outside the cities and towns, except for along a small number of rivers and streams that flow down to the coast from the massive Andes Mountains. Even with decades that pass with almost no rain, they don't have a wildfire season in the coastal Atacama because there is no vegetation to burn.

The Atacama is much closer to the equator than California and the Humbolt current along South America's Pacific Coast keeps the ocean water cold until it reaches the Galapagos along the Equator, off the coast of Ecuador. That's why the coastal Atacama gets about 7 months of daily fog (called garua).

As much as I have enjoyed this year's extremely mild "winter" season temperatures, I would not want to see this Atacama like winter repeat itself. It would mean that the small amount of vegetation we have in the nearby hills would eventually disappear and all we would be left with is bare dirt. It's not a pretty sight. Not to mention that most of the reserviors in CA would go dry and so would our water supply.
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:34 AM
 
Location: Wellington and North of South
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It couldn't really match the virtually nil rainfall of most of the Atacama - and certainly not Quillagua!
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Old 01-26-2014, 03:56 AM
 
Location: Wellington and North of South
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A few Atacama shots here (couldn't get them to upload to this site):

https://picasaweb.google.com/1023193...eMiscellaneous#
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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It's possible with global warming.
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Old 09-07-2020, 11:20 AM
 
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During the summer, absolutely. But there will still be a couple inches of winter rain even during a mega drought
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