Patagonia cold snap sees parts of Argentina colder than Antarctica

The icy spell is so intense that the sea froze — and the weather warnings aren’t over

Argentine Patagonia has become one of the coldest regions in the world as a cold snap hits the country. According to Argentina’s National Meteorological Service (SMN by its Spanish acronym), in some places temperatures have dropped below those in Antarctica. 

The freeze is so deep that in the Tierra del Fuego provincial hamlet of San Sebastián, the sea froze, leaving otherworldly images of solid waves along the coastline after temperatures dipped to -12°.

Patagonians have posted picture-perfect scenes of thick, crisp snow and chalets fringed with crystalline icicles, birds ruffling their feathers as they shelter in the eaves.

The deep freeze is caused by a high pressure center between Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula, pushing large amounts of cold air from the south pole northwards. The conditions have caused road blockages, food shortages, risks to livestock and other complications for the region’s inhabitants.

The cold snap is now traveling up the country. The SMN declared a yellow weather warning for seven provinces, including Tierra del Fuego and Santa Cruz in the south, but also La Rioja in the the north, as well as parts of Córdoba, San Luis, and San Juan, and even the usually balmy Misiones, home to the Iguazú Falls, in the northeast.

A yellow alert means cold temperatures can be dangerous for high-risk groups such as children, people over 65, and those living with chronic illness.

Argentina’s biggest trade union federation, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT by its Spanish acronym), released a statement urging the government to “take up its institutional responsibilities and make itself present” to aid those affected by the weather emergency.

Prepare for the snow in Patagonia

There are a number of recommendations you should consider if you’re about to spend some time in the Andes or at Patagonia’s ski resorts.

  • Wear several layers of light clothing to better insulate against the cold. Wind-resistant coats or jackets are a must, as well as gloves, hats, and scarves.
  • Waterproof equipment, especially shoes, are important: our body loses heat more quickly when wet.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic beverages, which reduce your body temperature
  • Stay active to generate body warmth


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