Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Rainy Season

I arrived back in Monrovia during the final half of the rainy season, which is still considered to last through part of October, although most people report that the seasons aren't what the used to be, and say that the climate has definitely changed.

Rain falls in puddles on a footpath in Fiamah, Sinkor.
©2011 Moved2Monrovia.

It can rain famously hard here, as in other parts of the tropics, although Monrovia is supposedly the capital city with the highest average annual rainfall. There is a startling velocity to the precipitation, as if the rain was thrown down from the sky by force. This happens almost once a day during August and September, in the day or the night, but steadier showers and gentler drizzles can also last hours.

UN Drive at the Freeport, after a night of rain. ©2011 Moved2Monrovia.

The results are rather sudden floods, on the streets and in the communities. Planning for storm water mitigation, whether in road works or the private construction of housing, is limited or absent. Often times, especially in the informal communities and rapidly-expanding suburban fringes along the northern and eastern frontiers of the city, it seems like the first time families considered whether their house sat in a flood zone is as the rain is entering their house.

This flooding, in the town of Caldwell north of Monrovia,
was the result of a single night of rain,
and stood for several days before receding.
These homes were built near the banks of a creek
which flows into the Mesurado River.

This is just one extreme to Liberia's remarkably harsh, unforgiving climate, with the ferocious sun being its other half. On certain days, this city experiences both within a short period time, the heat of the vexing sun beating down on the damp rooftops and soaked yards.

Gloomy skies over the Freeport. ©2011 Moved2Monrovia.

But for most of what foreigners from northern continents consider the summer, the sun is hardly seen. The frequent downpours, and the days of low, thick clouds in between, make for a dreary effect, something that a northern visitor wouldn't normally anticipate. Its strange to experience a tropical city which is as gloomy as an English town.

Motorbike drivers huddle from the rain in front a large
generator exhaust vent expelling heat (and noxious fumes).
UN Drive, Mamba Point, August 2011 ©Moved2Monrovia

And while the humidity can be as relentless as the heat, the rainy season can also be breezy, and almost cool. In fact, the most pleasant mornings and evenings in Liberia are those rainy season days when it isn't raining, which isn't exactly a predicable season. But there are hours over these few months where it frequently seems more like Cape Cod than Cape Mesurado, even if Liberians are complaining that it is too cold, and wear winter jackets.

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