In Río Grande, a city in the extreme south of Argentina, last Tuesday the waves broke against the beach but did not return at all. Part of the foam remained frozen on the sand, forming a long white line along the entire coast. That day a temperature of 14.5 degrees below zero was recorded. Three days earlier, thermometers had dropped to -16 degrees and the thermal sensation had reached -23.
The polar cold wave that has affected Tierra del Fuego for a week has left the lowest records of the last 15 years on this island where the Andes mountain range ends and that Argentina shares with Chile. It was colder in Río Grande than in Antarctica, where the National Weather Service reported a temperature of -0.4 degrees and a temperature sensation of -5.8 on Saturday.
The extreme temperatures, which begin to subside after a week, have frozen cars, gardens, roofs and facades and have turned dozens of street objects into ornate ice statues. They have also caused vehicle circulation problems.
The main concern of the authorities is the supply of drinking water. At such low temperatures the water freezes and there is a risk that the increased volume will burst the pipes, so it is a common practice to always keep the tap open a little as a precaution. The increase in water consumption lowers the pressure and complicates the supply, which is why the Municipalities advise against this practice.
The polar cold wave has surprised Tierra del Fuego when it was preparing to resume activity after more than three months in quarantine. At the start of the covid-19 pandemic, it was one of the most affected Argentine territories, but it managed to control the cases and for a month it has not registered any new contagion.
Snowfalls have also been protagonists in recent days in some of the most iconic cities in southern Argentina, such as San Carlos de Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. This winter, in another unpublished postcard from 2020, these cities are empty of tourists.