The seasonal change is ushered in with a minor cold spell

There’s a chill in the Central Valley air, but the big news is that the country is on the verge of a seasonal change.

The Instituto Meteorological Nacional said Tuesday that the cooler temperatures would be warming up slightly today. The institute also predicted morning rain today in the northern zone and along the Caribbean coast. Afternoon rains were predicted for the central and south Pacific as well as in most of the mountains.

Weather Underground, which provides forecasts for A.M. Costa Rica, was a bit more pessimistic. It predicts rain for the next four days with a 50 percent chance of rain today in the San José areas. Tuesday, although chilly, was clear over most of the country.

Typically the rainy season transition begins around Easter Week, but easter is late this year, April 22.

The chill Tuesday was in the Central Valley. On both coasts
the weather was toasty. Limón had a low of 18.1 C (64.6 F) and a high of 32.2 C (90 F). At Hacienda Pinilla in Santa Cruz on the Pacific the low was 24.4 (76 F) and the high was 33.1 C. (91.6 F), according to the automatic weather stations there.

That contrasted with Cartago, which had a low of 12.5 C (54.5 F) and a high of 20.7 C (69.7 F). At La Lucha higher up in Desamparados the low was 10.7 C (51.3 F) and the high was 22.3 C (72.1 F). The weather station on the summit of Volcán Turrialba registered a low of 4.6 C. (40.3 F) and a high of 11.5 C (52.7 F).

Along with the rainy season comes concerns about hurricanes. The tropical weather project at Colorado State University in Fort Collins said that it expects to see approximately 17 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes during the 2011 hurricane season. These numbers are based on the average of its statistical model, its analog model and qualitative adjustments and insights,” the forecasters said.

They are Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, who have been fairly accurate in hurricane predictions. They characterized the season as quite active and well above the activity of the averages of the years between 1995 to 2010. Their forecast, made Dec. 8, is based on an extended-range early December statistical prediction scheme that utilizes 58 years of past data, they said.

Gray is highly respected for his hurricane predictions, but he angers fellow scientists because he doubts that humans have much effect on the world’s weather. He said much of the global warming scare comes from scientists trying to get money to fund their research.

Although Gray and Klotzbach say the chance of hurricane landfalls in the Caribbean is greater than average for 2011, hurricanes almost never touch Costa Rica. However, the indirect effects can be very damaging. The next forecast will be released April 8. The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1.

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Hurricane Information Center reported that the names of two hurricanes have been retired because of the damage they did in 2010. Igor caused $200 million in damages and killed three persons in Newfoundland Sept. 21. Tomas caused extensive damage in Costa Rica and also in Caribbean islands, including Haiti where it killed 35 persons in November.

Tomas was the storm that caused a slide that killed 25 persons in San Antonio de Escazú, put up to 3,000 persons in shelters or otherwise homeless and caused a cascade of mud and debris that ripped through Acosta.

Had they not been retired, the names would have been in the rotation in 2016, the center said.

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