Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rainy Season Weather

West side of house, 4:29 pm, October 15, 2007.  Looking out from dog run attached to house.

My Irish buddy Will has asked a question about what the weather is like here in the rainy season.  Immediately I have to start out with the fact that it's going to vary some from area to area. For example, the Potrerillos area is considered to get more rain than does David; I think Boquete has about the same rainfall as we do, but at times they get what is called the bajareque, a fine mist/drizzle/light rain that comes down that valley when we're having good weather.  It's hard to say without hard data.  Lloyd Cripe has a Web site, (sidebar) that reports the weather in and around Boquete, and has a year's worht of solid data.  While our friend Ricardo Espinosa keeps rain data, he does so manually and I haven't yet asked to see his records, which I imagine are in notebooks.  In October, we're purchasing the same weather station that Lloyd has, and we'll be able to compare rather nicely at least between Boquete and here.  David, of course, has official meteorological records that can be accessed pretty easily.

The Pacific side of the country does not get as much rain as the Caribbean side.  Everybody jokes that Bocas has two seasons:  wet and wetter.  

OK, that's one thing.  The second is that it's hard to talk about a "normal' year because that varies.

The rainy season here starts in April or May and runs through December or even part of January.  Most years, January through March is drought season--little to no rain.  Not this year.  We had enough rain so that I only had to water first-year trees and shrubs once.

Trying to strike some average:  usually, after the rainy season starts--usually--we start out with maybe 2-3 days of rain per week in the afternoon with lovely mornings.  It's the reason why May and June are my favorite months.  In mid-June, we have what the locals call "San Juan summer".  The feast of San Juan is June 19, and in most Latin American countries (especially Brasil), it's a big event.  Here, we get 2-3 weeks of dry, gorgeous weather.  In late July, the rains set in in earnest.

What happens after that is usually--usually--the mornings are sunny or at least high overcast and the rains come in the afternoon just about every day.  As the rainy season progresses, the time of day that the rains start gets closer and closer to noon.  September and October are normally the worst months.  Not only does it rain every day, but it's possible to have 3-4 days of nothing but rain.

And what rain!  The phrase "tropical downpour" must have been coined for Central America and the Caribbean, because by August, we really have the aguaseros regularly--the heavy downpours that can last for up to several hours where the rain comes down so heavily you can't see to the end of the hood of your car if you are so unfortunate as to be driving when it occurs.  We always try to get any driving done in the morning and really work hard at being back at the house by noon at the latest.  It's extremely dangerous on the roads.

By November, the rain usually starts to slacken off a bit, and December is pretty good.

That said, there are all kinds of variations on this theme.  But that's the "normal" pattern.  Because of this, our hottest month here is April, because by July and August, the afternoons are overcast and rainy, driving the temperature down.

And of course, as I sit here typing this post, we are having a weird combination of the low pressure variable rain bands along with an electrical storm!  Never let it be said that this area lacks drama.  Contrary to my last update on the previous rain post, the rain re-intensified.

 Glad you liked the picture, Will--just for you I uploaded the above picture which was taken last year on the west side of the house, looking out from the dog run.  I haven't cropped the picture so that you can get some idea of the length and volume of this stream of water ruuning down on the opposite side of the house from the earlier photo.  If there is suffficient resolution, you'll be able to see that it was still raining when I took the picture, on October 15 last year. Could have been taken today--both streams are running just as enthusiastically down the property.  It's been raining now for over 36 hours straight, maybe even longer.  The ground is utterly saturated.  Fortunately, we live on the lower slopes of the mountains, we don't live anywhere near a river, and both quebradas are both deep enough and far enough away that we have no danger to us.  That can not be said of Boquete; I've been wondering if they've had flooding from the river there.

Indeed, do bring your wellies!


sunshine said...

wow, you are a *fast* typist, Joyce!!

Thanks for the new photo.

I am looking forward to seeing those tropical downpours. I love the cycles of the earth/climate....the greenery, sunshine, rain.

Thanks for the explanation re what it is like typically each month, and when one usually gets rain each afternoon.

It sounds important to get any work done (shopping, etc) before noon....lest one gets caught out in a downpour.

As long as I have a web connection, I quite like the idea of being marooned inside and looking out on a tropical downpour.

I do worry though about getting a pc and other electrical stuff ruined by an electrical surge (not to mention being marooned without a net connection!).

Joyce said...

It's called battery backup surge protectors with Automatic Voltage Regulation for all your sensitive electronic equipment. That electrical storm a week ago blew out the battery backup part of two UPSs. Just replaced one (turns out I don't need two with this new one) for $64; a new iMac, complete with shipping and duties, would have cost upwards of $1500, maybe more. TVs, other sensitive appliances--surge protectors, fancy if you want, but surge protectors.

Net connection is harder--depends on your IP. bluntly, the infrastructure in Panamá is NOT first world. I doubt you'd have the same reliability even in the capital. We have frequent outages here and the system is sometimes so slow as to be maddening.

sunshine said...

yes, surge protectors would be definitely required in such a climate/infrastructure.

Access to the net is my big concern. But I'm hoping that with rapid development in technology, that net access (at very cheap prices) will soon be the norm for most of the planet.

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