The Return of the Rainy Season

The weather here in Guatemala has been terrible since Thursday, when Tropical Depression 16 began sweeping across Central America. The storm hit hardest in Honduras but nonetheless brought the entire Central American region days of relentless rainfall and relatively cold weather.

The weather report at forecasts rain and cold weather for the next ten days straight here in Guatemala. Granted, cold weather here means about 65-70°F, so it’s not too bad. But still, this is Guatemala — anything below 75°F, anything that requires a jacket, is considered cold.

Worse is the rain, which isn’t too bad here in Antigua — just a steady, relatively cold misty downfall — but which is reaping havoc on the Caribbean coast, where flooding has gotten out of control.

From today’s Siglo XXI newspaper:

Massive Flooding Along the Carribean Coast

Massive Flooding Along the Caribbean Coast

From another local newspaper, Terra Daily:

Tropical depression dumps rain, misery on Central America

by Staff Writers, San Jose (AFP) Oct 16, 2008

Intense rainstorms for five consecutive days as a tropical depression swept over Central America has left four people dead, three missing, numerous villages flooded and thousands evacuated to safety, officials reported Thursday.The storms left two dead in Costa Rica, one dead and two missing in Guatemala, and one dead in Honduras. Some 15,000 people have moved into shelters throughout the region.

Central American governments issued warnings and mobilized emergency services, as weather forecasts indicated the rainfall will continue for another 36 hours in some areas.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Tropical Depression 16 was dissipating late Thursday.

The NHC warned the rain, up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated areas, could still “trigger life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

I’m most worried about my friend Lindsay Perwak, whose travel blog I linked to a week or so ago in a previous post. Last I read from her on her blog (“Hitching rides, popping tires and big guns” — a wild story), she was on her way to the Río Dulce region, which is on the Caribbean coast, just across the border from Belize. I hope she’s OK.

Personally, I’m tired of all the rain. The first week I was here in Guatemala, it rained every single day like clockwork — from early afternoon well into the evening before clearing up around nightfall. I didn’t mind too much because I knew that the rainy season here was about to end. In fact, I was happy to experience a little of the rainy season. I’d read about it and wondered if indeed it rained without fail each and every afternoon.

Here’s how the World Travel Guide describes the rainy season of Guatemala:

In higher climes, near the centre of the country, the rainy season, running from May to September, is characterised by clear skies after abundant rainfall in the afternoons and evenings. Temperatures fall sharply at night.

As this World Travel Guide illustrates, the rainy season tails off in October as the dry season begins in November and continues for six months:

I thought perhaps we’d turned a corner last weekend, as several sunny days passed without any rain. But then on Thursday it began to rain nonstop as Tropical Depression 16 made landfall, and from the look of the weather forecast, there’s going to be plenty of rain for the next couple weeks. Ugh.

Here are some photos I took on October 9 — about a week and a half ago — during one of the afternoon rainstorms. I was standing in the doorway of my house as I took these photos, trying not to get myself soaked. Note the water in the middle of the street. The streets here in Antigua are designed like that to prevent flooding:


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