The picture above is what Chile’s Atacama Desert usually looks like. It’s arguably the world’s driest region, receiving just 0.04 inches of rain annually in its most arid districts.
But earlier this month, the Atacama got a dump of 31+ inches of snow thanks to an unusual Antarctic cold front. It’s more snow than the region has seen in two decades and has closed roads and left drivers — unaccustomed to driving in such conditions — stranded in drifts, especially across the border in Bolivia.
I’ve stood at that border in autumn, trying not to be blown over as the frigid, sea-powered western wind kicked through a notch in the nevados. I can’t imagine that wind carrying snow.