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Wildflowers Due For Driest Desert in the World August 5, 2011
Snow on the Atacama
Snow covering the Atacama on August 1, 2011.
Freak heavy snowfall and rain during July in the driest place on Earth has set the stage for a burst of colorful wildflowers that seldom have enough moisture to bloom.

It would take 50 years for Arica, in northern Chile’s Atacama desert region, to accumulate an average of just one inch of rainfall.

But the community has already received .13 inches of rain this year, more than six times its yearly average.

While that amount would occur from a brief shower elsewhere in the world, its effects on the Atacama should be spectacular.

“We expect to have all these seeds and insects that are latent, that will explode,” University of Chile biogeography professor Pilar Cereceda told The Associated Press. “Probably we will find lots of flowers in many places.”

July’s precipitation is predicted to cause the typically yellow and purple flowers to begin blooming in late August, with a peak in September.

Photo: Rescuiti Muños - Flickr