Northern Chile Floods March 2015 – Facts, Figures and Photos

The regions on Atacama, Antofagasta and Coquimbo in northern Chile were hit by severe floods on 26 March 2015 after a period of relatively heavy rainfall.

Chile Floods – Facts and Figures

Below are the latest figures (as of 06 April 2015) from the government of Chile.

3 regions affected – Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo
26 people killed
Over 150 reported missing
29,741 people affected
2,514 displaced by the floods and staying in temporary shelters
2,071 homes destroyed
6,254 homes damaged
2,265 tons of aid to the affected regions

By Region

Antofagasta

3 people killed
1,452 affected
38 displaced
71 homes destroyed
1,236 homes damaged
The town of Taltal is considered to be the worst affected

Atacama

23 people dead
28,000 affected
2,476 displaced and housed in temporary shelters
Affected areas include Paipote, Inca de Oro, Copiapó, San Antonio and Amolanas, Alto del Carmen Chañaral, Diego de Almagro, El Salado

Coquimbo

289 victims
18 homes with major damage
No displaced

Rainfall Amounts

The only figure available for the time of the floods in is from Antofagasta, which saw 24.4 mm of rain fall in 24 hours between 25 and 26 March 2015. The relatively small amount (compared to other major flood events) is the equivalent of 7 years of rainfall in this desert region.

Causes of the Floods

The cause of the heavy rainfall have been mentioned here . Warmer sea temperatures (attributed to El Niño) combined with an unusually strong and persistent “cut-off” low pressure system that was trapped over Chile by an exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure, resulted in unusually heavy rainfall, according to RMS.

Heavier than normal rainfall falling on dry desert land and rocks, on steep mountainsides with little soil or vegetation, resulted in torrential runoff, which, by the time it had reached coastal areas such as Taltal and Chañaral, had become a raging torrent.

Photos of the Floods in Northern Chile, March 2015

Photo credits:

All photos licensed under Creative Commons.

Leone 1600, Creative Commons License
Armando Godoy, Creative Commons License
Ministerio Bienes Nacionales, Creative Commons License