Jim Andrews

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Chile Snowstorm Spells Hit the Slopes

May 27, 2013; 8:19 AM ET

A big Pacific rainstorm will yield heavy snow as it strikes the Chilean Andes Monday through Tuesday.

This first major storm of the season could allow ski operators to kick off their winter season.

By Wednesday, the storm will leave upwards of 1 meter, or 3 feet, of snow along the Andes of central and south-central Chile. At low elevation, the storm's welcome soaking rain will give the first big rainfall of the season.

The storm was underway as of Monday across mid-southern Chile, with soaking rain from Concepcion to Puerto Montt becoming heavy snow along the Andes. Onset of soaking rain and heavy mountain snow was slated for Monday in the Santiago area.

Most of the top ski resorts are clustered east of Santiago at about 2,800 meters, or more than 9,000 feet above sea level, where most winter precipitation falls as snow. The relatively cool climate tends to preserve the snow cover between storms.

Other resorts are scattered southward along the Andes at lower elevation, taking advantage of exceptionally heavy winter snowfall in a wet, colder climate.

Seasonal rainfall in the Santiago area has only been about 50 to 85 percent of the normal amount of 40 to 50 mm (about 1.6-2.0 inches) since the first of 2013, data from the Direccion Meteorologica de Chile shows. Along the Andes, where normal amounts are much higher, the percentage shortfall in precipitation may be comparable.

The present storm should easily overturn the shortfall, bringing early season precipitation into surplus.

The cooler months mark the water season for Santiago and much of Chile, so storms like this are vital in replenishing the water needed for drinking and for agriculture.

Map shows the locations of major ski resorts nearest to Santiago, Chile. Others are found farther south, east of Chillan and in the Lakes District. (Google Maps)

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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