Rain, snow fall on drought-parched Chile

Farellones, Chile, Jul 23 (EFE).- Chile’s wettest winter in four years has left Andean peaks covered in snow and raised hopes that plans for water rationing in Santiago can be shelved.

The coincidence of the school vacation period with a spell of fair weather has brought thousands of winter sport enthusiasts to resorts such as Farellones, near the capital, Parva and Cerro Colorado.

People are also savoring the rare sight of Santiago surrounded by snow-capped mountains without the oppressive smog that usually hangs over a metropolitan area that is home to more than a third of Chile’s nearly 20 million inhabitants.

But the flow of visitors to the ski resorts has snarled traffic and motorists on some routes report spending more than four hours to travel 15 km (9.3 mi).

Meteorologists say Chileans should not see the recent heavy precipitation as a sign that the mega-drought which took hold a decade ago is ending.

The drought, according to specialists, is the result of structural causes such as climate change and the persistence of the phenomenon known as La Niña, which suppresses precipitation in Chile.

Greenpeace has declared Chile’s water crisis the worst in the Western Hemisphere and 2021 was the Andean nation’s fourth-driest year on record.

Soon after taking office in March, new President Gabriel Boric said that he could not rule out the possibility of water rationing in the capital, especially in the affluent neighborhoods where water use is highest.

The regional administration has since published a provisional rationing scheme that would apply to more than 1.5 million residents. EFE jm-pnm/dr

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