Posted by: Rob Viens | December 28, 2012

A “Singularly Uncongenial” Climate

On the 26th of December the crew was back to work.  Apparently everyone remembered last year’s discipline, as there is no indication of punishment’s being doled out this year. Darwin’s attention again turned to the weather:

“The weather continues unsettled & most exceedingly unpleasant; on the hills snow falls, & in the vallies continued rain & wind. — The temperature in day-time is about 45° & at night it falls to 38° or 40°; from the continued cloudy state of the atmosphere, the suns rays seldom have much power. — Considering this is the middle of the summer & that the Latitude is nearly the same as Edinburgh, the climate is singularly uncongenial. Even on the fine days, there is a continual succession of rain or hail storms; so that on shore there is not a dry spot.” (Dec 26)

Darwin’s experience was not atypical for this time of the year at the southern tip of Chile.  In fact, you can see it is fairly similar today by checking out the current weather in nearby Ushuaia, Argentina – the nearest weather station to Cape Horn found on the Weather Underground:

Find more about Weather in Ushuaia, AG
Click for weather forecast

Granted it is a little warmer today then it was for Darwin in 1832, but it is still in the 40’s.  One might think that if this is the temperature on the first week of summer, the winters in Tierra del Fuego must be atrocious. However, the good news (I suppose) is that the temperatures and precipitation are pretty constant all year (temperatures have a range of only about 10°C).  Check out these climate graphs from nearby Ushuaia, Argentina showing average temperature ranges, precipitation and daily sunlight (from Climate-Charts.com)

Climate Graph for Ushuaia

The climate of the region is typified by long, relatively mild winters and short cool summers.  Rainfall varies from west to east but is typically high along the coast with some areas in the west receiving 3,000 mm (118 inches) of rainfall a year. Cape Horn has 278 rainy days a year (and has average wind speeds of ~18 mph (30 kph)). One thing that does change quite a bit with the seasons is the length of the day.

All of this suggests that having snow in the summer (as Darwin experienced in 1832) is pretty typical in Tierra del Fuego.

(RJV)

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  1. […] del Fuego (Ushuaia, Argentina) – see A “Singularly Uncongenial” Climate Click for weather […]


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