Monday, April 2, 2012


My back kitchen/dining area this afternoon.
I learn new words best when I associate them with an experience. Today's unforgettable new Spanish word is: turbonada -- a sudden storm or squall.

We are in the midst of a serious dry spell. There were predictions last week of electrical storms with chances of some precipitation, but nothing much happened. Then, today in the midst of a very hot afternoon, thunder rumbled and dark clouds actually appeared.

But what started out as a welcome afternoon thundershower quickly escalated into something more. As lights dramatically flickered I hurried around the house unplugging appliances. Not long after that, I left the shelter of my bedroom in an attempt to secure a back kitchen door that was banging after being wrenched open by hurricane-force gusts. When I entered the kitchen area, I discovered that some light-weight rattan dining room furniture had scooted several feet across the floor and mosquito screens had been blown in.

Two large potted coconut palms which live outside on the patio had blown over and had their tops lying inside the dining area. The wind made a clean sweep of the kitchen counters closest to the open door; everything was on the floor. Rain pelted horizonally through the back of the house. Artwork from the walls lay on the flooded floor.

Large fallen branches fill my neighbor's back patio
Howling winds uprooted trees and downed power lines. An old ramon tree lost large branches, leaving the neighbor's walled patio looking like an Easter basket full of fake green plastic grass, waiting for colored eggs. A metalwork trellis, which I had built along the top of my garden wall, failed completely and fell, carrying with it a couple hundred pounds of vines and leaves, on top of my flower garden. Many plants in the ground and many of those in pots ended up crushed or lying horizontally.

The garden plants and shrubs suffered the worst.

My vented skylights leaked. As soon as the lightning stopped I climbed to the roof and discovered why: the downspouts were plugged with branches and leaves, and my flat roof was covered in more than six inches of water. This began to drain as soon as I had cleared the debris.

During the storm, I'd heard hail the size of peas pelting the doors and windows. Afterward, I discovered many garden plants had their leaves shredded. Bits and pieces of this blender-residue debris is sort of wet-pasted all over the exterior of the house and on window screens.

Walking down the block later, I noticed one cable down on the street, and intersections flooded. I was told that falling branches have damaged a lot of cars. My friend Jonathan out at Hacienda San Antonio Xpakay called to report that his kitchen's sheet metal roof had blown away.

I suffered little real loss from the turbonada. A young palm tree was uprooted, but I suspect that once propped up it will recover. The metalwork that was damaged will cost me a bit to repair, but not that much, really. Most of the plants will survive. The house is messy with blown leaves and dirt, but in a day or two will be presentable. The pool is murky and full of garbage, but a couple hours of elbow grease and a few dollars worth of chemicals will take care of that.

I guess today was a good practice, in its small way, for hurricane season. Now I have a few new ideas about things to be taken care of before we get a real storm one of these days.

As I began cleaning up with squeegee and mop, I took time out to buy some beer and order a pizza. It arrived late. However, although it was a bit cold, the pizza tasted good. 


  1. Oh no. I'm glad the damage wasn't too serious, but it sounds like you've got quite a bit of work ahead of you.

    1. Yes, it's really mostly just cleanup, but there is a lot of work to do. No one appears to have been injured although the paper is full of dramatic photos of cars smashed by big branches along Paseo de Montejo, uprooted trees and down power poles.

  2. Replies
    1. It's a bit of a mess, but I came out pretty well. I suspect in poorer areas houses were seriously damaged, but I haven't seen all the reports yet.

  3. And hello from London!

    From the first photo, I was going to ask what floor finish you use. So shiny! (smile) And yes, it's good to know where to prepare for things when they may get worse. Anchorage is voting on a civil rights proposition today (or not) and I'm reminded Alaska is still a contrary place.

  4. We are still in the midst of beautifully cool nights and mornings. But we will soon be dealing with the summer storms that always remind us that routines are made to be broken.

  5. I too, like you, suffered only minor damage. Plants toppled, a few large ramas down, 2 potted arecas ended up in the pool...

    Mostly just clean up - hopefully with an actual hurricane we'll have a bit of notice. We already know we are very fortunate in that we get very little to no water in the house!

    Glad all is well on your end!

  6. Yes, Marc--the turbonada did give us some practice, but I doubt that it's predictive of how a hurricane hit any particular home. It probably all depends on the precise "hit" of the winds involved. I could see the whirlwinds this time; but I had no wind entering my house. THIS was NOT what happened to me with our last hurricane!

    I even saw fallen tinacos this morning on my drive. Not having the warning that does come with a hurricane made this event almost worse for me.

    Some clichés came to mind, e.g.,"raining cats and dogs." But I've never thought before of "flying mangos"--of which I now have about 70 to pick up. But it sure sounds like you had a much rougher experience--good luck to you.

  7. Nature sometimes goes beyond its limits. With that said there's very few of us that move forward, you seem to be doing that well.


I appreciate comments, but will delete comments that are rude, offensive or off topic. Unfortunately, due to the heavy volume of spam, comment moderation has been enabled. I will try to approve comments promptly, but your patience is appreciated.
If you have technical trouble leaving your comment, please email it to:
and I will post it for you.