Rainy Season Not Here Yet

April 1, 2005

HEAVY rains and the song of Costa Rica’s nationalbird, the yiguirro, throughout the Central Valley thisweek and last triggered rumors of an imminent earlystart to the rainy season.Not so, according to officials at the NationalMeteorological Institute. Meteorologist Jorge Rojas toldThe Tico Times the showers last week and the beginningof this week have not heralded the transition periodfrom the dry season to the rainy season.In fact, according to the institute, this year’s wet seasonwill begin within the normal-to-late range: now inthe Southern Zone, in early May in the Central Valleyand in late May in the northwestern province ofGuanacaste.“If there have been some downpours that were stronger than usual, it’s not anythingabnormal,” Rojas said. “We are goingalong in a typical sequence.”The institute forecasts clear skiesthrough the weekend.THE southern Pacific region is enteringits transition into the rainy season thisweek, Rojas said, adding rains there are“stable.”The Central Valley and central andnorthern Pacific regions should begin theirtransitions in the first two weeks of May,he said.One of the factors in the weather thisyear is the influence the famous weatherphenomena El Niño and La Niña.El Niño is the periodic heating of thePacific Ocean along the equator, whichmakes wind currents erratic in the Pacificand can cause more precipitation in someareas and less in others. La Niña is theopposite effect, a cooling of those waters.A respite from the rain can be expectedin June or July with the coming of theveranillo, or little summer. Rain in thePacific coast and Central Valley shoulddecrease at that time, but the Caribbean,which has a separate weather system thanthe rest of the country, may become evenwetter at that time.THE weather is tied to the economy inthis country that derives such a largechunk of its export revenue from the saleof its crops.The coffee gurus predict a strong harvestafter the rains of the last few days.Juan Batista, executive director of theNational Coffee Institute (ICAFE), said heexpects good harvests because the rain“positively affects” the plants’ production.Coffee fields throughout the CentralValley have burst into fragrant flower withthe recent rains, something Batista says isright on schedule.Though the recent rain might be part ofnormal cycles, biologists say the countryhas been heating up over the years, and thecountry’s birds are seeking progressivelyhigher ground to escape the heat.Biologist Alvaro Herrero, of theVertebrate Unit at the NationalBiodiversity Institute, said there have beenno observable changes in the migrationroutes of birds that come and go fromnorthern climates, but the internal migrationsof birds native to Costa Rica havechanged.Many bird species migrate from low tohigh altitudes as the seasons change,Herrero said. In the past several years theyhave sought higher and higher ground,presumably to escape rising temperaturesin their former stomping grounds.The meteorological institute told TheTico Times it had no data regarding anyheating trend in Costa Rica, although averagetemperatures last month were twodegrees Centigrade higher than averagetemperatures for the months of March inthe past four decades the institute has beenkeeping data.

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