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In northern Chile, a short drive south from the local capital of San Pedro, you'll find one of the world’s most alluring treasures: the Atacama Salt Flats. One of the driest areas in the world — so dry it hardly sees more than 1 mm of rainfall in an entire year — it’s also one of the most conflicted, due its history and unforgiving environment.
The Andes mountains borders it on the east while to the west lies a secondary mountain range, Cordillera de Domeyko. There are also volcanoes, including the Aguas Calientes, Acamarachi and the Lincancabur. The salt flats were the site (and much of the cause) of the War of the Pacific, also called the Saltpeter War. During this time, Chile obtained most of the valuable mineral-rich territory desired by Bolivia and Peru, which went on to shape much of Bolivia’s economic identity and wedged Chile between the borders of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
Still, there is astounding beauty in this remote desert. The Valle de Luna, or Moon Valley, lives up to its name with an extraterrestrial appearance that has inspired onlookers for centuries. And while you may be tempted to look downward, the night skies are as wondrous as the sand thanks to the absence of light pollution, arid climate and high altitude. No wonder the European Southern Observatory maintains two astronomical bases here: Paranal Observatory and La Silla Observatory.
The intense record heat baking the south-central United States is expected to get trimmed back early this week, but a sweep of refreshing air is not on the horizon.
This past weekend's rainstorm was only the start of an abnormally wet pattern that will elevate the flood risk in the eastern United States into the end of the month.
Despite NASCAR moving up the start time of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, rain has hung on and delayed the race at Loudon, New Hampshire.
Yet another round of severe weather is threatening the southeastern United States to close out this weekend.
The remainder of July will be dominated by a resurgence of heat across the northwestern United States.
An uptick in monsoon rainfall is expected to heighten the flood threat across eastern and northern India this week.