Weather in Chile

Stretching over 2,600 miles from north to south, Chile spans seven dramatically different climatic regions.  Snow-capped Andes Mountains rise to the east; the arid and barren Atacama Desert makes up much of the country’s north, while much of southern Chile is tundra and ice caps. Central Chile, with its mild Mediterranean climate, is home to Chile’s major cities, as well as most of its people.

Overview of Chilean Weather

Although the climate varies greatly throughout the length of Chile, one constant throughout the country is the proximity of the coastline on the west, and the Andes Mountains on the east. Along the coastline, the climate tends to be more moderate, with fewer seasonal changes in temperature. The rugged and mountainous regions of Eastern Chile are, for the most part, icy and cold year-round.

Much of the country has four seasons. Since all of Chile lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from those in the Northern Hemisphere. When it is summertime in North America and Europe, Chile is in the depth of winter, and vice versa.

Spring and summer, from October to March, are generally warm, pleasant, and relatively dry. During fall and winter, the weather tends to be cloudy and cool. With so many different climate regions, though, it is difficult to make generalizations about Chile’s weather, seasons, and climate. In understanding what the weather in Chile is like, it is helpful to look at each region individually.

Landscape in northern Chile

Northern Chile

The northern regions of Chile are home to the Atacama Desert. The Chilean Coast Range blocks moisture from the Pacific Ocean, while the Andes block any moisture from the west. These unique conditions create one of the most arid and dry regions in the world. In fact, some high mountain regions of the Atacama are so dry and barren that their soil closely resembles the soil found on Mars! This region sees little variation in daily temperatures or rainfall throughout the year.

Vina del Mar, Chile 2010

Vina del Mar, Springtime

Central Chile

This region is the location of Santiago, Chile’s capital city, as well as home to around 80% of the country’s population. This area has a mild Mediterranean climate, with temperatures ranging from around 40 degrees F in winter to around 80 degrees F in the summer. Although the winters occasionally see snow, Central Chile avoids the extremes found in other parts of the country, making it quite hospitable and pleasant year-round.

sheepherder Southern Chile

Southern Chile

Southern Chile is colder and wetter than the rest of the country. Although there is less variation in temperature throughout the year, there tends to be much more precipitation. Large amounts of rainfall create lush, beautiful forests and large lakes throughout this region. The farther south you go, the colder and icier the land becomes, eventually breaking up into mostly inhospitable islets.

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