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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

A word to the wise, be careful what you wish for…

After almost two weeks of 90º+(F) temperatures, late this afternoon lightening flashed, thunder rumbled, gusty winds replaced still humid air, and on Tlaloc’s command, torrential rain and hail pounded the Oaxaca city.  Water began coming in closed doors and windows, plants and chairs overturned on the terrace, an empty concrete bag flew up and over a ten foot fence and across the forty-five feet of my terrace landing at my doorstep, and power went out for almost two hours. 

This evening, at Casita Colibrí, plants have been righted, chairs have been retrieved and stacked, and flooded floors have been mopped.  However, in other parts of the city, there are reports of trees and power lines down, massive flooding, and a roof collapsed at Central de Abastos.   Initial news reports (en español):

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It was a year I’m sure many would like to forget; it was disastrous for the planet AND her inhabitants.  For me, on this last day of the year, I choose to reflect on the beauty, joy, love, and new adventures that I was fortunate to experience.

I welcomed 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area at my childhood home, now my younger son’s domicile.  Thus on New Year’s Day, I made æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) using my great grandmother’s recipe and her, well over 100 year old, cast iron pan.

Æbleskiver on New Year's Day 2016; a family tradition

Æbleskiver on New Year’s Day 2016; a family tradition.

Back in Oaxaca, February brought a community Día de Amor y Amistad fiesta in my apartment complex.  Have I mentioned?  I have wonderful neighbors!

Valentine's Day party

Valentine’s Day party decorations in the patio.

March was unseasonably hot, but the blue skies and flamboyant trees beginning to bloom made it bearable.

Flamboyant trees, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and agave

Flamboyant trees, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and agave.

April took me to Cuba, a lifelong dream finally realized.  It was more fascinating, confounding, and fabulous than I had ever expected.

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View from the Hotel Habana Riviera.

By May, the flamboyant trees had leafed out and were in full bloom — and we needed it, as the hot-hot-hot temperatures continued.

Flamboyant trees and Santo Domingo de Guzmán looking picture perfect.

Flamboyant trees and Santo Domingo de Guzmán looking picture perfect.

A calavera on the streets of Oaxaca in June?  Absolutely!  She knows no season.

Sad calavera standing on the sidewalk.

Sad calavera standing on the sidewalk.

And, then there was July!  So much to see and do, this month warrants three images.

Indigenous pipe and drums lead off the first, and stormy, Guelaguetza desfile.

Indigenous pipe and drums lead off the first, and stormy, Guelaguetza desfile.

El Jardín Etnobotánico was again the site of the Mole Festival.  So beautiful!

El Jardín Etnobotánico was again the site of the Mole Festival. So beautiful!

Vela Vinnii Gaxheé parade float, waiting.

Vela Vinnii Gaxheé parade float waiting for the Intrepidas to board.

The rainy season was in full force in August and I loved standing on my terrace watching the storms approach, though sometimes they didn’t make it all the way to Casita Colibrí.  Microclimates!

Storm approaching the city from the south.

Storm approaching the city from the south.

September brought the second major feast day in Teotitlán del Valle:  Fiesta a la Natividad de la Virgen María.

Bringing the canastas to the church for the unmarried women and girls to carry in the convite.

Bringing canastas to the church for the unmarried women and girls to carry in the convite.

I was in California from late September to early October, and when I returned there was a new exhibition in the courtyard of the Museo de Arte Prehispánico de México Rufino Tamayo.

Some of the 2501 migrant sculptures by Alejandro Santiago.

Some of the 2501 migrant sculptures by the late Alejandro Santiago.

For the past couple of years, one of my destinations on November 1 has been the panteón in Tlacolula de Matamoros; its beauty and tranquility always take my breath away.

Under the shade of the daughters of the tule tree, the chapel in the panteón.

Light and shadows cast by the daughters of the Tule tree, play off the colors of the chapel in the panteón.

Later in November, I spent a delightful Thanksgiving with family and friends on the east coast of the USA, but returned to spend Christmas in Oaxaca for the first time in three years.  It was just as joyous and colorful as I remembered!

Nochebuena angels on a float in the zócalo.

Nochebuena angels on a float in the zócalo.

These three are the future; let’s vow to do all we can to give them a better world than the 2016 one that is departing.

Many thanks to you all; I am constantly amazed and gratified that you choose to stop by.  Wishing all the best for you, your loved ones, and your communities in 2017.  ¡Feliz año nuevo a tod@s!

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We had spectacular electrical storms Sunday and Monday nights, with thunder rumbling continuously, lightening flashing in all directions, and torrential rain.  And, today, I awoke to a rare early morning downpour — 8 inches of pergola runoff collected in my buckets.  Noticias, the Facebook group Bloqueos y Accidentes en Oaxaca, and Reportes en Oaxaca, Mexico all show major flooding throughout the city from this morning’s surprise.

This morning's view of Templo de San José and Basilica de la Soledad.  Where did Monte Albán go?

This morning’s view of Templo de San José and Basilica de la Soledad. Where did Monte Albán go?

All of this has me asking, is this the beginning of an early rainy season?  Then, there is the report from Conagua (Mexico’s national water commission) that, due to El Niño, there could be a significant increase in the number of Pacific Coast hurricanes this season.  Hmmm… it looks like we may be in for a bumpy and wet ride!

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Last week near Saratoga Springs, NY it was 15º F, doors and windows were sealed shut, and the furnace was blasting.

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Today, back in Oaxaca, it’s 90º F, doors and windows are wide open, and I’ve got the fan on.

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What a difference one week and 2000+ miles makes.  I’m definitely a warm weather person!

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Listening to the rhythm of the falling rain.

Wet patio with water in buckets

Ahhh…  At long last, relief from weeks of energy sapping heat and a long very dry winter.

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… go out in the midday sun!

For more than a week, most afternoons have found me holed up inside my apartment with curtains drawn against an unrelenting sun — a semi-successful attempt to retain the cool air I’d ushered in when doors and windows were thrown open first thing in the morning.

Empty sidewalk with sliver of shade

These May-like temperatures, in the mid to high 90s F during the day, have been THE major topic of conversation amongst Oaxaqueños, ex-pats, and visitors, alike.   If you must venture out, as I did yesterday, you hug that sliver of shadow.  Umbrellas come in handy too!

Woman walking in a sliver of shadow

The multiplex theaters on the outskirts of the city are some of the very few buildings with air-conditioning.  However, to get there, one must take a sweltering bus or taxi ride through traffic clogged streets, never knowing when a bloqueo or road construction will bring your retreat to a scorching halt.  A better alternative is to follow the lead of these priests processing into the Basilica and head to the nearest church.  Mil gracias to the architectural gods for their thick stone walls and soaring ceilings!

Procession of priests entering the Basilica

¡Hace mucho calor!  Time for a siesta…

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Was it December?  Maybe it was November the last time the city saw rain… until this afternoon.  Those specks you see are very welcome raindrops on my window.

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It brought thunder and lightning, but fell gently.  It only lasted an hour, but cooled and cleansed the air.

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I can see clearly now…

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Oh, what a beautiful morning it was!

Glowing red/orange African tulip tree blossoms in foreground, church domes and bell towers in background against, tops of mountains in distance, against blue sky with bands of fog.

What a difference 10 hours makes.

Red/orange African tulip tree blossoms in foreground, church domes and bell towers in background against gray sky

Moisture from Tropical Storm Isaac being drawn across Oaxaca.  That’s the way the rainy season goes!

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Last night, if she is still in town, Malia got to experience one of Oaxaca’s dramatic rain storms.   The circulation of high pressure over the Southeast of the country, interacting with moisture from both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, resulted in a 1-2 hour (I lost track of time) torrential downpour and Mother Nature’s own spectacular sound and light show.

Dome of Templo de San José

Glowing Templo de San José last night, as sheets of rain bounced off the dome.

This was a welcome relief, as we are in the middle of the dry season, and my rooftop garden is extremely happy.  However, along with the usual flooding and sporadic power outages, newspapers are reporting 10 homes were damaged by the heavy winds and rain in Ocotlán and a Jacaranda tree fell on an unoccupied parked car in the city.

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Yesterday, the clouds gathered, the sky darkened, and about 5 PM…

And, yes, I did jump!

However, it’s no laughing matter for the farmers and folks who live near rivers.  Río Atoyac, which runs alongside the heart of the city and which one must cross to reach the airport, rapidly reached flood stage and breached its banks in several places (Noticias has video).  In addition, because the ground is already supersaturated, mudslides have already begun to occur in the mountains.

CONAGUA explains that the large area of atmospheric instability over the Gulf of Tehuantepec along with tropical depression 13 in the Gulf of Mexico (that’s the one threatening Louisiana), are the moisture-laden culprits.

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Hail, yes!

Yesterday…

3:00 pm    Storm clouds gathering

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7:30 pm    Lightening spotted and distant thunder heard
8:00 pm    Patter of rain on tin roof
8:45 pm    Rain in earnest
9:30 pm    Hail???  Yes!!!  ***

***  It was 72ºF outside!

h/t Glenn for title inspiration

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Thunder cracking right overhead; lightening flashing all around; rain pounding on the tin roof is deafening.  Sheesh, even with TV cranked up as loud as it gets, I can’t hear Anderson Cooper!  Torrential downpour filled buckets for Casita Colibrí’s garden within 15 minutes.Full rain buckets

Ahhh… it’s been so long, I’d forgotten what it looked, sounded, felt, and smelled like.  A beautiful night in Oaxaca…Stormy night in Oaxaca

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Tears have  been falling on Oaxaca.  This season has brought historic rainfall courtesy of multiple hurricanes and tropical depressions in the Gulf and Pacific.  Ground is supersaturated, rivers have overflowed, fields and villages are flooded, bridges have collapsed, overpasses are closed and, in the city, water has been pouring down from hills, turning city streets into rushing streams and leaving streets potholed and sidewalks covered with a fine silt.  Twice in the past month a huge hole has opened up just a block away, closing a major bus route.

Hole in the road

The damage has been occurring daily for several months and, watching CNN International, I kept asking, “What about Oaxaca?  Why are they ignoring the unfolding tragedy here that has been devastating the homes and livelihoods of impoverished and mostly indigenous communities?”

Unfortunately, it took a lethal avalanche of mud and boulders tumbling down onto the remote mountain village of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec (50 miles east of Oaxaca City) in the early morning hours of Sept. 28 to bring rain-soaked Oaxaca to the world’s attention.  Thankfully, early estimates of the possible death toll proved to be exaggerated, but the destruction is catastrophic and the communities require an enormous amount of assistance.

Relief efforts have begun, collection stations have been set up throughout the city, and the Oaxaca Lending Library, where I volunteer, is spearheading its own drive to gather supplies and cash.  In addition, the Oaxaca Lending Library Foundation, a US tax exempt 501(c)3, is collecting financial contributions.  Dr. Alberto Zamacona, a Oaxaca Lending Library board member, runs medical missions to the Santa María Tlahuitoltepec area and will be overseeing the purchase and delivery of construction materials to help rebuild this extremely poor Mixe community.  If you would like to donate, please send a check to:

OLLF, c/o James Corrigan, 5443 Drover Drive, San Diego, CA 92115, USA

AND write “Flooding” in the memo portion of the check.  Donations will be transferred to Oaxaca and the Foundation’s treasurer will send you a receipt for tax purposes.  The need is great, so any donation you can make will be much appreciated and put to good use.

Unfortunately, this may have been another human-caused tragedy that could have been avoided.  Corruption And Deforestation Caused Oaxaca’s Mudslide Disaster, an informative and thought-provoking article by Kristen Bricker explores this issue.  And Oaxaca continues to weep….

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