There are many delightful advantages to living in sunny South Florida, but hurricane season isn’t necessarily one of them. As we prepare for a possible landfall of Hurricane Matthew, we consider his origins.
Hurricanes are a global spectacle. Many have their beginnings in the sands of the massive Sahara Desert. A tropical cyclone may form as the areas of disturbed weather move westward across the Atlantic. They whirl and thrash their way across the Atlantic to the sandy coasts of the Caribbean, Florida and beyond.
According to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Iselle, which landed in the Big Island of Hawaii on August 8, 2014, was likely part of a wave that formed more than 8,000 miles away off of the West Coast of Africa – a powerful example of the far-reaching influence the Sahara Desert has on our planet’s weather.
As we prepare to get wet, we wish we were in a dryer locale, like maybe the Chile’s Atacama Desert. Indeed, it is the driest non-polar desert in the world and occupies some 105,000 square kilometers/41,000 square miles. The average rainfall is said to be about 15 mm/0.6 in per year.
In spite of the lack of rain, some 500 species of flora have been found here, and are remarkable for their ability to adapt to this extreme environment. Except for those most extreme areas of the desert, some creatures have been able to make this almost inhospitable land home such as sand-colored grasshoppers, beetles, desert wasps, red scorpions and butterflies. Certain areas are occupied by birds, Humboldt penguins, Andean flamingos, hummingbirds and threatened species such as the endangered Chilean woodstar. A few specially adapted mammal species include Darwin’s leaf-eared mouse, the South American gray fox, guanaco and vicuña with seals and sea lions often gather along the coast.
So, while we wait out Matthew, you can think about exploring this remarkable, and dry, desert on one of our adventures such as the 17-day Chile and Argentina journey
PS Holiday space is still available.
PPS Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see if we are underwater or just a bit wet and for the latest hurricane updates: @bigfivetravletours #bfhurricane.
PPPS Why yes, that is a satellite shot of the Atacama desert you clicked on.