Photos: Wacky weather hits South America


An orangutan protects himself from the cold with a blanket provided by vets at Rio de Janeiro's zoo, on July 11, 2011.


Vanderlei Almeida

Orangutans in a Brazilian zoo have been wearing blankets and drinking hot soup to ward off the extreme cold that has beset the region.

And the blanket-clad great apes aren't the only unusual scene to have cropped up because of the weather.

It also snowed in the driest place on earth. And not just a dusting. A storm dumped 32 inches on the Atacama desert in Chile. The region hadn't received that much snow in 20 years, reported the BBC.

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Bolivian farmers lost their crops and more than 50,000 llamas and alpacas are without food, according to the BBC. More snow is forecast for the coming days in the usually dry highlands of Potosi.

And if snow wasn't enough, it also rained. The northern Chilean city of Arica received as much rain from the storm as it had in the previous 10 years.

In Argentina, players in the Copa America soccer tournament wore two or three shirts and gloves it was so cold, reported AFP.

As of Friday, at least 22 people had died, according to AFP. 

While the cold snap may have just been a fluke, it's one more addition to the growing list of crazy weather patterns:

Last year, every continent except Antarctica saw record-breaking floods. Rains submerged one-fifth of Pakistan, a thousand-year deluge swamped Nashville and storms just north of Rio caused the deadliest landslides Brazil has ever seen. ...

And while no single weather event can be linked definitively to global climate change, a growing number of scientists say these extreme events represent the face of a warming world. ...

That link works more or less like this. Concentrations of greenhouse gases are the highest the earth has seen in 15 million years. These gases trap heat, warming both the air and the oceans. Warmer oceans give off more moisture, and a warmer atmosphere can hold more of it in suspension. The more moisture in the air, the more powerful storms tend to grow.

Photos: Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images; Courtesy/NASA; Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images)

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