29 August, 2007

Doin' the Tropical Wave

This is something I had never heard of before - "Tropical Wave". It seems that... Well, let Wikipedia explain it:

Tropical wave
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tropical waves, or easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which move from east to west across the tropics causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms.

West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the southern side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeast Pacific basins.

A tropical wave is normally preceded by an area of sinking, intensely dry air, oriented as a northeast wind. With the passage of the trough line, the wind veers to the southeast, the humidity abruptly rises, and the atmosphere destabilizes, producing widespread showers and thunderstorms, occasionally severe. As the wave moves off westward, the showers gradually diminish.

A notable exception to the general characteristic of widespread precipitation behind a tropical wave occurs in the Atlantic. Periodically, a surge of intensely dry air known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is entrained behind a tropical wave, resulting in cloudless or nearly cloudless skies as convection is capped by the dry layer inversion. Additionally, any dust which may be present within the SAL reflects solar radiation, slightly cooling the atmosphere below it.

So, there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about tropical waves. Basically, they stack up like this:
  • Tropical Wave
    • Tropical Low
      • Tropical Depression
        • Tropical Storm
          • Hurricane
We're in the middle of the "rainy season" down here in paradise. Up till now, it's been relatively benign, with the exception of the odd hurricane or tropical storm. Then comes this new thing (to me anyway) of a tropical wave.

I half expected this would be something you'd do at a soccer or cricket game (they don't do baseball here), dressed in tropical party clothes of tshirts, shorts, and Crocs, raising your arms up and rising out of your seat to a calypso-reggae beat... No. Not even close.

It's similar to the nine months or so of rain that we would get in the Northwest, only you might get about 5 or 6 inches of wet stuff in an hour and it's accompanied by huge thunder and lightning (We had one thunderclap that was so sharp, so loud, and so close, I thought our butane bottle out back had exploded).

This has been happening since yesterday evening. We were over at Canadian Bob's for a nice chili dinner along with Bob, and Connie and Greg when it started to rain, and rain, and really come down. So much so that we ran from Bob's to the Isuzu and headed home because we had all our hurricane shutters open and we were afraid of getting bedding and computers soaked.

We were barely able to stay on the highway, it was coming down so hard. We made it to our turn-off and headed up the track.

Dang it, there was another tree fallen down across the track. I really didn't want to get out in the pitch dark and wrestle the tree out of the way, along with whatever stray snake was out there. Luckily, I saw through the lightning flashes, a possibility of just driving through it to get home. I punched the accelerator and crashed on through. We made it! Of course, we had to run from the Isuzu to the house, getting completely soaked in the process. Dianna especially so, since she stopped to try to close the gate first.

After getting in and closing the shutters, we found that other than the porch, everything was dry. We secured the place for the night, let Tanya in, since she is so afraid of lightning and went to bed.

This morning, still raining, lightning and thundering, we went out onto the porch to see what was happening, and discovered we had another visitor. This little guy (see below) was pretty cute. After snapping his photos, I managed to heroically shoo him outside.
Our Little Visitor
Trying To Get Away
Later in the morning, while Edna was here doing the housekeeping, I went into town to see if I could find a new water heater. It seems ours has bought the farm. The gas lights, but doesn't heat the water. Apparently, there's a down tube that acts as a sacrificial anode (no sense having a replaceable anode, eh) that has "anoded" itself to death.

I couldn't find a small one like the heater we have, so no water heater for now. Maybe I'll find one in Belize City when we go there. It's no real biggy not having a water heater. We usually take cold showers anyway. It's just nice to have the hot water to cut the initial chill of the shower. Then we usually turn the hot water off as it's too hot for the whole shower.

Later in the afternoon, shortly after the tremendous thunderclap I mentioned above, we let Tanya in again - she came on the run. Really! Dianna, no fan of thunder or lightning, went into the bedroom to take a nap and escape the gods playing at bowls.
Dianna Hiding From the Lightning
At the same time, Tanya hid out in the bathroom.
Tanya in Hiding
The kitties both hid out under the bed.

Yours truly, stayed up to work on the blog and watch TV. Having the remote in hand gives you that feeling of power and strength to fight off the urge to hide under the covers - or in the bathroom.

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