One of the Driest Places on Earth Is Covered in Flowers
The Atacama Desert is blooming thanks to record rainfall
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2015 6:53 PM CDT
Flowers in bloom in the Atacama Desert. This is a file photo, and the desert looks far more lush at the moment. (See story for links to Twitter images.)   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – One of the driest, harshest landscapes in the world has been transformed into a psychedelic canvas of reds, purples, and greens after record-setting rain. Live Science reports that Chile's Atacama Desert averages just over half an inch of rain a year, with some parts of the desert getting even less than that. "Rainfall is extremely hard to come by in northern Chile," a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather says. But this year, El Niño brought a massive amount of rain to the country, reports Australia's ABC. That downpour caused flash flooding and mudslides that left dozens dead. But it also watered seeds that had sat dormant under the dry Atacama soil for years, according to AccuWeather.

The resulting bloom—which only happens every five to 10 years—is truly something to behold. The ABC reports this rare occurrence is known as "desierto florid," or the flowering desert. And flower it has, with carpets of brightly colored vegetation covering the desert's hills and plains. Live Science reports it's the most rain the area has gotten in two decades, and a Chile tourism official says this year's bloom is more impressive than previous ones as a result. But the colors won't last long. According to the ABC, the desert is expected to return to its normal palette of browns in November. (In another desert, scientists are trying to figure out the origin of weird "fairy circles.)
 

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