Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wading Through the Dead of the Rainy Season

Weather: Low, dense overcast daily for a week. Two hours of sun since August 8. Rain on and off every day, averaging about 1.5 inches per day. Hi Temps in low 70s during the day, lows in the low 60s at night, but with a steady southwesterly to westerly breeze of around 10mph and constant rain, it feels cooler. Meteorological background: The warm equatorial ocean throws billions of tons of water vapor into the air. The trade winds that blow from the west half the year move this saturated air over the coast where it meets the relatively cooler land, creating condensation everywhere, but especially in the atmosphere. The result: A giant rain machine. And it rains frequently, about 200 inches worth, from late May until the winds shift 180 degrees, usually sometime in October. The rainiest months are July and September.

Back in Michigan, I used to call mid January “The Dead of Winter.” The air was coldest, the snow was piling up, the days darkest, and spring was still months away. It seemed like everything was longing for relief from the merciless weather. I think I’m in the “dead of the rainy season.” I like occasional sun. I may even need it. When I don’t see it or feel it, my mood is affected. I get down, more negative and impatient. We haven’t seen the sun or felt its direct warmth for a week, except a couple hours late Sunday afternoon. Plus everything is damp. Clothes not aired out stink of mildew. Electronics act up and short out. On the roads, the potholes are now deep everywhere and our 12 year old Pathfinder is being shaken and rattled to death. We cannot keep up with its repair needs. It takes 45 minutes to drive 12 miles into town. We are supposed to get some dry weather soon for a few days if memory, folk lore and science all serve. Renita predicts one more day of wet, then two days of sun.

This week, I’m mostly at home, writing reports and emails. The emails get sent whenever I get to an internet cafĂ©. During breaks, if it’s not pouring, I might mosey down to the market and tease the ladies. I was needed at Mother Patern College Monday, and I’ll need to be there again Friday for planning meetings with Grace Boiwu, head of the MPCHS Women’s Development Program. On Saturday, I’m conducting a workshop on parenting for the Foster Town community.

Renita is in town and in front of people every day this week. Monday through Wednesday, she’s conducting an orientation for the growing LEAD staff. Thursday and Friday, she’s conducting the LEAD training workshop for the WFP. Like I, she gets a bit anxious before times like this where she has to do a lot of presenting But she’s relieved and in a good mood when it’s over.


Anonymous said...

The more I read about the incessant rain for days without any sun, i'm begining to think that Liberia's climate may not be ideal for solar power systems.

The Reeds in Liberia said...


Very few climates are "ideal" for solar power. However, the good news is solar power does not rely on or need the sun to be out. Solar power requires light. So we have never had a problem with our solar system doing what we designed it to do almost every day of the year. On the heaviest overcast days, we've had to fire up the generator for an hour-- exactly like hybrid systems do automatically in northern latitudes. Every day our refrigerator is running, every day and night our fans run, and 80% of the time, we can run laptops and other stuff during the day. The short answer is, after three rainy seasons, I can say with some authority, solar works great in Liberia.