WTF Fun Fact 13136 – Snow in the Desert

In 2011, Chile’s Atacama Desert in Chile got a rare snowfall. In fact, it received 32 inches of snow as the result of a very rare cold front from Antarctica. This wasn’t the only instance of snow in the desert, but it’s interesting and bizarre since the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth.

What caused snow in the desert?

According to the Washington Post (cited below), “The uniqueness of this event is that the Atacama Desert is a 600-mile-long plateau known to be one of, if not the driest and most sterile deserts on Earth. Because moisture is blocked from the east by the Andes mountains and from the west by the Chilean Coast Range, the average rainfall is just 0.04 per year and skies are almost always cloud-free.”

The 2011 snowfall occurred when an Antarctic cold front (the strongest in 30 years) broke through the region’s rain and snow shadow. It is wildly cold there (with an elevation of 10,000 feet), but it just doesn’t typically get moisture).

Other parts of Chile got a crippling 8 feet of snow, cutting off access to the area and stranding residents without supplies. The Washington Post quoted one regional governor as saying, “In four days we have had four months’ worth of snowfall.”

It’s so dry in this desert that Atacama’s weather stations had never even recorded rain, and “research suggests that some identifiable river beds have been dry for 120,000 years.”

What’s special about the Atacama Desert?

If you’ve heard of the Atacama desert, it might be related to any interest you have in NASA and space exploration. The desert is used to simulate Mars, and NASA uses it to test Mars mission instruments.

It’s also been a movie set because it simply doesn’t look like Earth. For example, it was used in Space Odyssey.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Rare snowfall on Earth’s driest desert in Chile” — Washington Post

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WTF Fun Fact 13115 – Antarctica Tinder Match

Online dating is old hat by now. And it’s a good thing too, because where else are you supposed to meet people in Antarctica? It turns out that in 2014, the first Antarctica Tinder match took place.

The Antarctic Tinder match-up

Picture it – a December evening at the McMurdo Station. You’re an American scientist wondering what to do that night in 2014. Do you watch the rebooted Hawaii Five 0 just to think about what might have been if you had just picked your research topic a little more strategically? Or do you hop on Tinder, and wonder what on Earth might show up?

If you’re an unnamed scientist who agreed to be interviewed on the match but refused to reveal his name because of the trouble you might get in for using the rare broadband access to access a booty call, then the answer is the latter.

And you’d have gotten a match!

Who’s on Tinder in Antarctica?

The scientists told The Cut that he matched with a female traveling somewhere in the area.

“She was actually in her tent in the Dry Valleys when we matched,” said the scientist…“She was quite literally camping in Antarctica, went on Tinder, and found me. It’s mind-blowing.”

What’s the chance of two people trying to find love on Tinder in the tundra of Antarctica on the same December night?

Slim. But not none.

No profiles showed up for the scientist at first, but he wasn’t deterred. After all, he worked in a field camp that was a 45-minute helicopter ride away from any base station. When he expanded his radius, he got the hit. It seems they both swiped right.

Was this the first-ever Tinder hit in Antarctica? Well, it may sound ridiculous, but no one knows. The company doesn’t keep statistics on that particular area. However, according to The Cut, “the company agreed that this was probably the first match on the continent.”

How does it all end?

While we’ll likely never know anything else about the couple, the scientist told The Cut that the paid did meet briefly on the day the woman was leaving Antarctica.

“I have yet to become the first Tinder hookup in Antarctic history,” he said at the time. “But she is actually coming back, and we may overlap. There’s still hope.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Tinder Makes Its First Match in Antarctica” — The Cut

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WTF Fun Fact 12413 – Antarctic Antics

A Russian engineer working in Antarctica faced murder charges in 2018 after stabbing a colleague in the chest. According to news outlets Sergey Savitsky stabbed welder Oleg Beloguzov as was retribution for telling him the endings of all the books he was reading.

The stabbing took place at a Russian research station in the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica called Bellingshausen Station. Beloguzov’s life was not in danger from the wound, but he was evacuated to Chile for medical treatment. Savitsky was taken to St. Petersburg and arrested for the crime.

According to the LA Times, “Alexander Klepikov, the deputy director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, said of Savitsky and Beloguzov, ‘They are both professional scientists who have been working in our expeditions, spending yearlong seasons at the station. It is down to investigators to figure out what sparked the conflict, but both men are members of our team.'”

There were some rumors that alcohol was also involved in the conflict.

Some news outlets claimed the rumor about the books is untrue and that the engineer was suffering from the trauma of being at a remote location for so long.

Interestingly, the case never went to court since Savitsky and Beloguzov reconciled and the latter didn’t want to press charges. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: Antarctica scientist allegedly stabs colleague for spoiling the endings of books — LA Times

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