September 1, 2017. Lots of rain and wind in southern Baja.
With Odile just miles from Cabo San Lucas, winds and rain blast their way across the region. 22 airlines canceled flights in and out of city. Evacuations of up to 30,000 people are possible. Forecast is for up to 18″ of rain – okay – that’s a LOT OF RAIN!!! And sustained winds at around 135 mph. The imagery looks as if the storm is swallowing the Baja.
“Odile” is the latest in a string of late-season hurricanes with similar paths – off the west coast of Baja. But each one seems to have been moving slightly closer to land – and Odile looks as he he’ll skim the coastline, wreaking havoc with winds and rain. On Sunday morning, the storm has already intensified to a Category 4 – a “major and dangerous hurricane” – with sustained winds at 135mph and gusts up to 160mph. Batten the hatches. Put up the storm shutters and bring all the patio furniture inside.
Even in their fury, the storms seen from satellite are mesmerizing.
I admit it .. I’m a storm junkie. Something about the drop in barometric pressure and the wildness in the skies. I became edgy. Can’t sit still or focus. Pace the perimeter. Waiting. Watching the sky. Watching satellite photos and charts. Norbert was to be small .. A category 1 storm for a short time and then a tropical depression. He fooled us all by building to a Category 3 – but all of it off the west coast of Baja – and with no serious impact. We had 3″ of rain in Loreto and an amazing 49mph gust. I was awakened at 3am by what sounded like a bucket of water thrown at the window. Palm fronds bent agains the weight of the wind. The normally placid Sea of Cortez whipped to a wind-chopped frenzy. A wild alertness that accompanies a storm. Yes, a junkie – particularly when they have some punch but no destruction.
The storm sent clouds north from south and west of Cabo San Lucas on the afternoon of the 4th. By dawn (okay it was dark with no real sunrise) the storm had moved up the peninsula and after the 3am slam, rain and winds began to affect Loreto. By 3pm, the skies had opened, the wind had laid low the palm trees and ‘game on’ – the storm raged through and into the dark of night. Morning, the 6th, still dark skies, but by afternoon – clearing skies. Then sunset, an arm of the storm – now directly west of Loreto – laid a thick band of grey which intermittently spit water. Seas calm. Storm now a memory. We wait for the next circular disturbance.
“This is an invitation to go swimming,” my friend Al Jordan said when he phoned in the early afternoon.
I began to laugh so hard I could hardly speak.
“If the waves are too small for you,” he continued, “we could wait until after 5PM when the storm should be stronger… or even after dark!” I kept laughing, looking out my window at the frothy waters and the hurricane driven waves in our usually tranquil Sea of Cortez.
Al had swum the Picazone-Isla Coronado Race three days ago while I had SUP’d the distance. While we’d both thought those conditions were ridiculous, the turbulent sea outside framed our earlier experience in a different light. Now, while the wind blasted at 37 mph, gusts above 40, and the trees bent low to the ground, his idea was such a delightful counterpoint to the storm, I had to thank him over and over for the invitation.
Good morning Paul : woke to change in plans – or at least change in track. Paul’s now headed directly to my treasured surf spot – San Juanico – and then across to pay a visit to the east coast. Batten down the hatches, Dorothy. We’re not quite ready to head to Kansas.
How can I ever forget the beauty of Loreto? After a four week sojourn, I sit again, next to the sea and her fragrance hypnotises me. Gentle breezes caress the surface and small wavelets kiss the shoreline, turning beach stones over and over as if in a dance.
A blue monarch butterfly, and then a gold, flit among the flowers and the fat limes ripening on the trees that have exploded with growth. A hummingbird whizzes past my face toward the ruby colored stamens in the planter.
Recent rains have turned the dry lanky peninsula into a carpet of green, so verdant that from the sky, one could be fooled into thinking this was an oversized island of the Hawaiian chain. The sand in my yard has become a palm nursery. Hundreds of sprouted seedlings reach their first and second leaves toward the sunlight.
All it takes is water to change everything in the desert.
Humid & hot.
The weighted sky water of summer. A thousand wardrobe changes in the day (and that’s just the sky!).
Color palettes shift from frothy white to angry greys with blasts of orange and red and gold sprinkled between.
The wind carries them from the north east, from the south .. back around again from the west. It shapes them— along with temperature, pressure, underlying terrain — into ragged forms, soft cumulous curls, a streaking line of stratus. Thunderheads build .. threaten .. and then simply drift away …
The season of clouds. The heart of summer in Baja.
After the rain : and before the next. The sky breaks out her palette of colors beyond the brush and pigment. Hues and shades that catch in the throat with their beauty. A veritable cloak of golden light that beckons, woos, dances on the edges of the mind.
Under my feet, the sand, the desert – already paying hommage to the life gift of water from the earlier deluge. Everywhere the scent of moisture. Pools, small lakes of water. Arroyos that have found the sea after too many months of drought. The rushing waters sing with their ebb and flow …..
I love the weather!
What started as a sultry morning with still seas, has in less than 30 minutes, turned into a blustery morning. Soft winds, first from the west – unusual – clocked to the south, rounded to the east, turned to the north, and swung back to pour in from the south. Local weather station, El Jaral, shows a steady 20.9 KM .. White caps before 7:30 AM!
Except for the warm temperatures and the wind direction, more like a February morning … 30% chance of showers tomorrow!
So…. not a SUP morning, and decidedly not a good swimming, snorkeling, or fishing morning .. and even the beach walkers are hunkered down.
Life, like the weather : flux & flow.