Chile's capital Santiago has experienced the driest June in half a century, leading to unexpected headache-inducing levels of contamination and Andean ski slopes bereft of snow, with no rain clouds on the horizon. There has been zero precipitation in the month to date in Santiago, the first time that has happened in fifty years, according to meteorology records.
The unusually dry conditions in the midst of the Southern Hemisphere winter have exacerbated the city's already-high pollution levels, leading the government to declare an emergency on Monday, banning many vehicles and forcing some businesses to close.
Santiago sits in a topographical bowl, making it susceptible to pollution caused by factories, cars, fires and wood-burning stoves, particularly in winter. Normally rain clears the air at regular intervals, but the arid June has left city-dwellers gasping for breath.
And no relief from the arid conditions is expected in the week ahead. Chile is currently hosting the Copa America football Cup and a decisive match is scheduled for Wednesday evening between the host national team and Uruguay.
We can say that no rain is expected for the next seven days, Janette Calderon, a meteorologist with the country's official meteorological office said on Tuesday.
The dry month compounds a drought that has been going on for some eight years, weighing on industries from mining to wine producers. Just under 12 millimeters of rain has fallen since the start of the year, compared to an average for the first six months of the year of over 100 millimeters, said Calderon.
That makes the first half of 2015 the driest half year since records began in 1966.
Andean ski resorts near Santiago, popular with tourists and locals alike, would normally be opening in the next few weeks, which coincide with children's winter holidays, but are practically bone dry.
On Monday the emergency meant subways were crowded as drivers left cars at home and businesses running stoves such as bakers were forced to shut. Sports in schools and open spaces have been banned.
The government downgraded its pollution alert on Tuesday, which eases some of the restrictions on cars and businesses. Forecast for Wednesday is not better, but hopefully the America Cup match will be played.