One of the most inhospitable places on the planet, the Atacama Desert, has seen beautiful flowers bloom after a year of unusual rain brought by a strong El Niño and the images are breathtaking.
The Atacama Desert in Chile is known as “The Driest Place on Earth” for a good reason. Not much typically grows there, which is why locals are stunned to see beautiful pink flowers blooming where there’s usually sand and nothingness. The rare event was brought on by heavy amounts of rain after a particularly strong El Niño season last fall.
According to Extreme Science, the dry mountains in the Atacama Desert see an average of less than.004 inches of rain per year and at times the area doesn’t see rain at all. Some places in the region have not seen rainfall for 400 years.
The Atacama Desert — located near the warmest Ocean water on Earth, the Pacific — is usually so dry that it holds the world record for the longest dry streak with 173 months without a drop of rain in the early 20th Century, according to People. Thanks to a strong El Niño, which brought heavy thunderstorms, these stats were out the window and in one day, 14-years worth of rainfall — just 0.96 inches — changed the landscape in a dramatic way.
In March of 2015, the Atacama Desert saw the heaviest rainfall in 20-years and what happened after that is making headlines all around the world. A beautiful bloom of pink flowers now covers the ground, a rare event that is welcomed by residents and only happens every five to seven years.
This is how the Atacama Desert looks during a drought and it is as one would expect, with extremely dry and harsh conditions.
Watch what happened after the rainfall in March and how it transformed the Atacama Desert landscape.
Usually brown & barren, Chile’s Atacama Desert is now home to a lush blanket of flowers >> https://t.co/1spkirFlYc pic.twitter.com/q0Ke2uLlfq
— Discovery (@Discovery) October 30, 2015
— Elizabeth Palermo (@techEpalermo) October 30, 2015
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) October 30, 2015
This year’s El Nino has caused Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, to burst into life. pic.twitter.com/NxniYNo8Va
— Gautam Trivedi (@Gotham3) October 28, 2015
One longtime Atacama Desert resident says in all his years of living there he has never seen the beautiful flowers bloom and to him and his family, it’s a miracle of nature. This particular bloom has been called the “most spectacular blossoming of the past 18 years.”
The heavy rainfall that came in March, which is now causing the beautiful flowers to bloom, was originally a deadly event that caused the deaths of more than 25 people, according to NPR. The rain caused floods and mudslides which also left many people homeless, the Spanish news agency EFE reports.
Daniel Diaz, the director of the National Tourism Service in Atacama, spoke about the heavy rainfall and the resulting blooming of flowers in the Atacama Desert.
“The Atacama region was punished, but also blessed by the phenomenon of a flourishing desert, something that happens only after the rains, this time brought about by El Niño and climate change.”
“The intensity of blooms this year has no precedent, and the fact that it has happened twice in a same year has never been recorded in the country’s history. We are surprised.”
As a result of the beautiful flower blooms, the tourism office is expecting upwards of 20,000 people from all over the world to come and witness the breathtaking sight. However, if you are planning such a visit, you must hurry, the blooms won’t last much longer as the weather conditions are already changing.
[Image via Shutterstock]