The Atacama desert in Chile is the driest non-polar desert on Earth, but even this seemingly barren wasteland can burst with life under the right conditions. If the desert experiences heavy rainfall during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring (October, November), the flowers ‘hibernating’ beneath its surface suddenly bloom with an explosion of color, eager to take advantage of the rain.
This year’s bloom was brought on by the same weather patterns that spawned Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful hurricane to make landfall on record. “The intensity of blooms this year has no precedent,” Daniel Diaz, the National Tourism Service director in Atacama, told the EFE news agency. “And the fact that it has happened twice in a same year has never been recorded in the country’s history. We are surprised.”
Though Diaz attributes the extraordinary phenomenon to climate change, locals have been thankful for the tourism boost the event has brought to the region. More than 20,000 tourists are expected to visit the desert to see the extraordinary bloom. This isn’t the only place in the world that gets desert blooms, however – these deserts in Utah experience a similar phenomenon.