Apt that this first day of the Fall brings us rain and thunder. We were put on yellow alert last night, which doesn’t usually mean too much. Being such a mountainous island amounts of rain and wind directions can vary a lot, even in a very short distance. We really have our own micro-climate. Where we lived when the boys were growing up, on a hillside, in Chayofa, we could see out across the ocean in two directions. Storms, when they come, come from the Atlantic, and we could see the dark clouds gathering, usually sweeping across the nearest island, La Gomera, and out across the sleeve of ocean between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, often missing the South of this island completely.
I snapped this from the azotea, or roof terrace, about an hour or so ago. You can see how dense clouds build up over the mountains, and settle in the valleys. What was a couple of hours, varying from drizzle to hard rain here on the coast, will be lingering in those valleys well into tomorrow at least.
I was looking forward to the rain to wash down the azotea. I swilled it last week, but being conscious of not using too much water, only enough to dampen down the sand and dus,t which has built up over the Spring and Summer months. The hillsides and valleys of the South having been crying out for rain for some weeks now. There isn’t a dramatic difference in temperatures throughout the year here, we average around 20ºC in Winter daytime, and rarely top 35ºC in Summer (though that’s beginning to change a bit), but anyone who’d been in a coma for six months and woke last week would have known exactly what time of year it was. Grasses and plants shrivelled, and the mountain sides bereft of almost everything besides the hardy pines (which don’t really grown until higher up anyway) and cacti. In a way this is the bleak time, the end of Summer, not Winter as it is further North. Now we’ve had some rain, some of those barren hillsides will begin to sprout greenery within days. The earlier the rains come the quicker the greenery returns, because the atmosphere borders on tropical with the heat and the rain, only the nights, stand in the way of rapid, tropical growth! Even in Summer we have cool breezes, once the sun has set. Right now indoors it’s still muggy, but if I walk to the open window (no wind so I can happily leave it open the rain is vertical) the coolness is refreshing and very welcome.
It’s odd not to be able to make plans for tomorrow with any certainty. One of the benefits of such a consistent climate is knowing that when you plan to BBQ, go to the beach, hike or watch fireworks or anything outdoors, the chances of it being spoiled by the weather are slim!
The rains always bring problems to some part of the island. With so little rainfall, and with so much falling in such a short time when it does, drains get overloaded, roads cracked by months of Summer sunshine crumble, and rockfalls make mountain roads dangerous. In some ways, to those of us who lived years in wetter climes, it seems like “just a bit of rain”, but the affects can be more serious than in places accustomed to the “wet”. When I lived in houses in my early years here, both flooded on the ground floors when the rains got serious. After a couple of years it became normal to wake up in the middle of the night and pull on a swimsuit to go clear out a drain or move something in the garden so that the water could flow through. It was usually quite warm, and the rain was the soak-you-to-the-skin variety, so there was no point in wearing protective clothing!
I’ve also lived in a couple of apartments where damp was a problem after the rain. One was quite serious, with damp spores sprouting all over the place, which the landlord neglected to inspect for months – happily windows were usually open, because I hadn’t realized how dangerous to health that can be!
Here, last time it rained heavily in February we were all water-tight, although I did have fears about the water gathering on the azotea and creating a waterfall down the stairs, which kept me awake most of the night! From the look of the satellite pictures and the lack of wind at the moment, looks like this will be hanging around for a while – much to the delight of certain people I know!