MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, September 23rd 2018 - 16:22 UTC

Driest June in Santiago in fifty years worsens pollution in the midst of Copa America match

Wednesday, June 24th 2015 - 07:15 UTC
Full article 7 comments
Santiago de Chile high pollution levels Santiago de Chile high pollution levels
Chile is currently hosting the Copa America Cup and a decisive match is scheduled for Wednesday evening between the host national team and Uruguay. Chile is currently hosting the Copa America Cup and a decisive match is scheduled for Wednesday evening between the host national team and Uruguay.
Andean ski resorts near Santiago, popular with tourists and locals alike, would normally be opening in the next few weeks, but are practically bone dry. Andean ski resorts near Santiago, popular with tourists and locals alike, would normally be opening in the next few weeks, but are practically bone dry.

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.

Categories: Environment, Chile.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Chicureo

    Cars with license plates ending in 3, 4, 5 and 6 are banned from the roads. All industries that burn fuel other than gas are shut down.

    The gas pipeline (That was built a great cost and was considered an engineering marvel as it crosses the Andes range) is completely dry as Argentina is corrupt, inefficient and just plain stupid.

    Jun 24th, 2015 - 09:52 am 0
  • yankeeboy

    I've said it many times, take the gas fields from Bolivia.

    Jun 24th, 2015 - 10:18 am 0
  • Chicureo

    They complain too much and we'd end up with many more of them with Chilean citizenship. What we need right now is rain.

    Jun 24th, 2015 - 12:36 pm 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!