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Land and Resources, Climate

Strait of Magellan, Celsius degree, Punta Arenas, Andes, Humboldt

Because of its great latitudinal range, Chile has a diversity of climates. In general, temperatures are moderated by oceanic influences.

The northern region is almost entirely desert and is one of the driest areas in the world. Temperatures, however, are moderated by the offshore presence of the cold Peru, or Humboldt, Current. The average temperatures at Antofagasta range from 18 to 23C (64 to 74F) in January and from 12 to 16C (53 to 62F) in July. In Santiago the average range is 12 to 29C (54 to 85F) in January and 3 to 15C (38 to 58F) in July. Temperatures decrease about 1 Celsius degree for each 150 m (about 1 Fahrenheit degree for each 275 ft) of elevation in the Andes. Rainfall increases southward, and the central region experiences a Mediterranean-like climate. Precipitation here is concentrated in the winter months (May to August) and ranges from an annual total of 360 mm (14 in) at Santiago to 2 mm (0.1 in) at Antofagasta. Winters here are mild, and summers are relatively cool. The southern region is cooler and experiences year-round rainfall. Precipitation reaches a maximum of about 5,000 mm (about 200 in) near the Strait of Magellan, much of it in the form of snow. The average annual temperature at Punta Arenas in the far south is about 7C (about 44F). Strong winds and cyclonic storms are common in the southern region.

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