Storm clouds over the Andes east of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Storm Cloud Sunset Over the Andes

Storm clouds over the Andes east of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
Storm clouds over the Andes east of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

I watched this incredible storm cloud formation over the Andes, just to the east of San Pedro de Atacama, disappear into the sunset this evening. It carried the appearance of part fog part smoke; a local told me it was rain, or more likely, snow.

It’s a typical formation and feature here during the autumn months over the Andean altiplano, the largest high plateau area on the planet outside of Tibet. The altiplano’s average height is 3,750m (12,300 ft); to give you an idea of the scale here, the two volcanoes in the photo below, Licancabur and Lascar, meet the sky at 5,920m (19,423ft) and 5,592m (18,346ft) respectively.

The Licancabur and Lascar volcanoes at sunset.
The Licancabur and Lascar volcanoes at sunset.

Here another shot, a wide view of the entire cloud formation from the eastern edge of San Pedro de Atacama. If anyone can further explain more precisely what sort of meteorological forces are at work here, I’d be most grateful.

Storm clouds over the Andes on the Chile-Bolivia border. 24-Mar-2013
Storm clouds over the Andes on the Chile-Bolivia border. 24-Mar-2013
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