Friday, June 10, 2011

The Rains are Here -- Almost

This was the scene on my street yesterday afternoon. After several hours of humid-smelling breezes, rumbles of thunder and darkening skies, the clouds finally turned loose just a little and we had about an hour of moderate spinkles in my neighborhood. It wasn't really much of a rain by local standards, but it was a start and a hopeful sign that more is on the way.

We haven't had a significant rain in months. Rainy season normally runs from late May or early June until about November. So the rains are a little late. In nearby pueblos and in the outskirts of Mérida people report some recent squalls but in the city and many parts of the region, we haven't had such luck. Right here in centro the few very light afternoon drizzles we have had evaporated as they hit the ground and did little more than make the streets feel like a sauna.

The Wednesday Diario de Yucatán featured an article stating that 40 percent of the country is experiencing the worst drought in 70 years. Things are pretty bad for a lot of folks. A good thing about Yucatán is that most of the peninsula pretty much floats on a huge fresh-water aquifer. Just about anywhere you can drill a well and come up with abundant water. My well here in Mérida, on the coastal slope and fairly near the Gulf of Mexico, is seven meters or about 23 feet deep. The water I pump for my garden and topping off  the pool is cool and crystal clear. We're in the city so I wouldn't drink it, but it is perfectly safe for swimming. If a situation ever arises in which other sources of water fail, I could easily treat my well water and use it for drinking.

So although it is very dry, in Yucatán we're doing better than many other regions.

Although it wasn't a big rain, yesterday's fall was enough to qualify as the season's official first at my house: I always discover a new roof leak during the first significant rain of the season, and yesterday was leak-day around here. I was walking through the bedroom after the shower when a drop hit me in the forehead. A good-sized puddle had formed on the floor.

I went up on the roof and looked at the spot. Sure enough, I found a hairline crack in the waterproof coating I thought I had thoroughly checked about a month ago. Today I climbed back up with a glob of thick roofing tar and a spatula and sealed the crack. 

The work didn't take long, and I was happy to be doing it. The annual roof-leak ritual marks the imminent end of the hot, tedious final weeks of the dry season and the beginning of the rains. It's a sign that we will soon be enjoying lower temperatures, less dust, fresher air, and will witness a rapid, lush greening of gardens, parks, and all of the Yucatán countryside.


  1. Felicidades. They say it's been really hot in Merida.


  2. Here I was thinking I could forget about our freshly repaired and waterproofed roof for a few years at least!

  3. Thanks for your comment Wills. Yes it has been hot, but relief is on the way.

    Debbie, you probably are OK with your roof, but I have discovered that with any old building around here, you just can't be sure. I check my coating every dry season, and reapply coating if necessary (it isn't necessary every year), and fill cracks with the roofing tar. It's pretty easy and not a lot of work. A half day of maintenance every dry season, and maybe a full day or a couple half days extra every several years to re-coat the roof is about it. And, you can hire someone to do it for's not that expensive. When you get down here, I can come over and look at your roof with you if you like. I've learned quite a bit about roofs here.

  4. Flat roofs make me nervous when it rains. I mean, they're easier to deal with when you're on top of them, but they just seem more prone to leaks. I guess they're just easier to build when you don't have to worry about ice or snow.

  5. Lee: I really haven't had much trouble with my roof. It is old, but was not bad enough to warrant an expensive rebuilding, so I live with its little quirks. It's not a big problem.

  6. It appears we all got rain about the same time. Or the start of rain. And we needed it. The nights were getting too hot to even think of sleeping.

    I really like that photograph.

  7. Steve: The photo (my house is the pink mildewed-looking place on the right) is typical of weather scenes we've had lately, but until yesterday the skies teased but did not produce. The good thing is that even when it doesn't rain, the small weather fronts do seem to bring a fresh breeze and make the nights a bit more tolerable. Hoswever I do look forward to some heavier activity soon.

  8. I just e-mailed Ruben to see if he had been over to our house to check for roof leaks or water seeping under the door. He wrote back that it was all dry. But I know that more and heavier rain could change that. Here we have to worry about sheetrock or plaster walls and wood floors. In Mérida it's mostly furniture to worry about.

    Uhh... are you a volunteer roof checker for good neighbors?

  9. John and Alan:

    There is a good probability that the first big rain will turn up more leaks at my house...I never can be sure. It's also quite possible that the leak I had would have swelled closed and not dripped again this year even without my application of a sealant. Leaks can be pretty mysterious.

    What we had here yesterday was a light rain. You may not be out of the woods yet. Any new renovation project that hasn't been through the rains, like your place, could have issues with water.

    Yes, I find roofs interesting (blog post likely to come), so I've done my share of walking around on top of friends' and neighbors' houses.

  10. Always educational. Thanks for sharing your insight, Marc.


  11. Well, here we are enjoying another nice rain two days later. There was quite a bit more this time. No leaks!

    It's nice to know you're always there, Eric. Thanks for being a faithful reader and for your frequent comments.

  12. Glad to see we're finally getting rain. As I write this, the sky is charcoal-gray, the winds are getting violent, and the grackles outside are struggling to not get swept away to Uman.

    Let's hope the rain is here to stay.

  13. Yes, it was a nice downpour. I'm mopping up inside the front door. It always blows in a little under the door when we get strong wind and rain from the east. A small price to pay. No roof leaks again today and this squall was a better test. It looks as if the roof may be good for the season.

  14. The joys of living in a colonial house in Merida. Roof leaks. Walls bursting with humidity. Rusty fans. Insects eating your electrical cable.


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