Residents clear snow at Lonquimay, Araucaria Region, 730km south of Santiago, Chile [Reuters]

Winter in the southern hemisphere has less of an impact than its northern counterpart. This is partly because the land area affected is much smaller, being confined to southern South America, the far south of Africa, southern Australia and New Zealand. It is also partly because the south is dominated by the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. These tend to have a moderating effect on winter in the region.

Nevertheless, for those affected, conditions can be severe. The winter of 2011 has been harsh one in South America. Bolivia and Chile have seen large snowfalls; Argentina has seen snow in areas where such events are rare. Cold blasts of Antarctic air have also threatened Brazil’s future coffee crops.

The cold weather is likely to continue here with further heavy rain, with snow at higher elevations, expected across Chile.

Further west, Australia has seen very unsettled weather affecting Victoria and New South Wales over the last week or so. The last few days have seen exceptional weather conditions across New Zealand with Monday 25th July probably the coldest day of the year, so far. Temperatures fell as low as Minus 5 degrees Celsius in Christchurch and Minus 8 degrees in Queenstown. This followed a night of clear skies after the most widespread snow across the country since 1995. Snow extended from the southern tip of South Island to just south of Auckland in North Island.

Southern Africa had largely escaped any severe weather but Monday saw very heavy rain affect much of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. A total of 146 millimetres of rain fell in Port St Johns in the day and widespread snow was reported at higher elevations, near Queenstown.

Winter in the southern hemisphere continues until the equinox on September 23, so there is plenty of time for more snow before the end of the season.

Source: Al Jazeera