Copiapó Basin Library

Extreme temperature and precipitation events in March 2015 in central and northern Chile

Author Bradford S. Barrett, Diego A. Campos, José Vicencio Veloso, Roberto Rondanelli
Date 2016
Type Artículo
Contents Introduction, Data and Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions
Summary From 18 to 27 March 2015, northern, central, and southern Chile experienced a series of extreme hydrometeorological events. First, the highest surface air temperature ever recorded in Santiago (with reliable records dating to 1877), 36.8°C at Quinta Normal, was measured at 15:47 local time on 20 March 2015. Immediately following this high heat event, an extreme precipitation event, with damaging streamflows from precipitation totals greater than 45 mm, occurred in the semiarid and hyperarid Atacama regions. Finally, concurrent with the heavy precipitation event, extremely warm temperatures were recorded throughout southern Chile. These events were examined from a synoptic perspective with the goal of identifying forcing mechanisms and potential interaction between each analysis which provides operational context by which to identify and predict similar events in the future. Primary findings were as follows: (1) record warm temperatures in central Chile resulted from anomalous lower troposphere ridging and easterly downslope flow, both of which developed in response to an anomalous midtroposphere ridge-trough pattern; (2) a cutoff low with anomalous heights near one standard deviation below normal slowly moved east and was steered ashore near 25°S by circulation around a very strong ridge (anomalies more than 3 standard deviations above normal) centered near 60°S; (3) anomalously high precipitable water content (20mmabove climatological norms) over the Peruvian Bight region was advected southward and eastward ahead of the cutoff low by low-level northwesterly flow, greatly enhancing observed precipitation over northern Chile.
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