Sunday, November 20, 2011

The tropics, my home, pt 1. An experience learned from teaching kids

It’s been a good while since I’ve made a blog entry. You know sometimes you’re so busy you don’t have to do much, and ideas for blogs or poems just seem to hide away in some corner of the head.  Well today I feel like writing something entertaining but at the same time a little on the educational side. We’ll see how this comes out.  So I was at this outreach activity the other day at an elementary/middle school that focused on science and the environment. The kids were amazing (for once many new how clouds formed)! There was something that kinda stayed in my head: None of the kids knew where Puerto Rico (PR) was!!

So before I start ranting, if you the reader don’t know where PR is either, here is is! It’s the square-ish island. Notice that is on the same sea where Cuba is! 

Ok let the ranting being. First, I will ask the reader: Have you ever been to a tropical island, or anywhere between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn that isn’t the Atacama Desert.  Well if you have then you might relate well to this story

You are walking around the streets of your favorite city, you’re sweating, it’s like 90 degrees and humidity is well above 70%. It feels muggy and you want to go to a store to enjoy their air conditioning. You look up to the sky; it’s sunny with a bunch of little puffy clouds we like to call cumulus. You smile; even though it’s hot and you’re sweaty it’s still a wonderful day. Ten minutes later a terrible thing happens; you’ve been assaulted by nature. Hundreds of thousands of giant droplets are falling towards you and everyone else in the streets. You’re getting soaked. The little puffy clouds that you saw a bit ago suddenly turned into a thunderstorm and began to pour on you.  You frown and run towards a corner where you don’t get wet. A bunch of people gather here, including an old man that has a large umbrella. He tells you that he already knew this was gonna happen because he saw the avocado trees this morning and somehow realized that their appearance meant inches of rain.
The mystery of the avocado tree and weather.
If you have lived through this, then you have definitely lived the tropical experience.  Living in PR seemed like that more often that anyone would like.   When it rains, it really rains! It can be every day, or on seemingly random days. Some days you will get a fraction of an inch, other days you get 5-6 inches in a single downpour. It almost feels random, and for many years that was the general consensus.  The tropics, the islands there, were the most crazy place for rain.  Even the scientific community of the mid 20th century thought that rainfall in the tropics was just plain random.

A cumulonimbus ruining a nice day at the beach.

Now let me be clear, this is in no way similar to what we see in the mid latitudes.  Weather in the mid-latitudes, particularly if you live in what the US calls the Midwest (for whatever reason they call it like that, I do not know why it has this name), can be really nasty.  They get sudden temperature changes, snowstorms, tornados, and other things too.  We don’t get these things in the tropics…

Well some may argue the tornado thing,  but it’s not nearly the same thing. Check out the links below for some “extreme” weather (an EF0 tornado and some hail) and the more extreme reactions.

Back on topic, instead we get rain, lots and lots of rain, and the occasional tropical cyclone (those terrible guys that like to leave paths of destruction but look so pretty in space). To me, it’s the most amazing weather on Earth! But the reasons why I will explain on the next chapter. I wrote enough nonsense for now!

1 comment:

  1. Me hiciste reír con el señor del paraguas y de los aguacatesssss!! hahaha LOVE YOU.