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Patagonia has what is usually called a temperate climate, though this is not the kind of temperate climate those in the Northern Hemisphere are accustomed to. Punta Arenas is so close to the Antarctic shelf that its influence, the “Antarctic accent,” is quite evident in the climate. The area is receives strong westward winds almost year-round, which is a factor in the topography of the Patagonian steppes, which have little flora. Due to the fact that Punta Arenas is in the rain shadow of the lower Andes, the city is one of the driest in Chile. Vegetation cover around the city is scarce and the climate is semi-arid. Though not exactly a desert like parts of the Argentinean steppes, rainfall is well under 20 inches (50 cm) a year.
Temperature variations over the course of the year, like variations in wind speed and direction, are quite minor in Punta Arenas. The warmest month is January, with average temperatures in the low 50s (10-12°C). The coldest month, July, hovers around freezing (32°F or 0°C). Winters are long and summers are short, so bring plenty of jackets during the spring and fall seasons The cool temperatures are partly due to the Peruvian Humboldt current and other water effects that create the “Antarctic accent.”