The weather here in our little corner of paradise is nothing if not mercurial. While it is not, exactly, ‘predictable’ there are certain times of the year which produce a similar type of weather condition fairly regularly. From about the end of November through the second week of January (roughly Thanksgiving through the Epiphany), we experience the depths of our “winter.”
Don’t confuse the word winter, when used in connection with Puerto Peñasco, with winter in, say, northern Minnesota. Our winters here are mild in comparison to most northern climes. Heck, our winters here are mild compared to most other places further north. The temperature of the Sea of Cortez mitigates our climate, making our winters quite pleasant. Still, we do tend to get more “weather” during this time of year than throughout the rest of the year. It comes in the form of storms which bring rain, wind and high, wind-driven tides.
While a little rain is always welcome, during our winter months we tend to get the majority of the 3 or 4 inches we get annually. I used to think it was fun to sit on my patio watching the skies to the south turn black with storm clouds as they raced northward up the Sea of Cortez, driving the pounding surf onto the shore and re-sculpting our beach. I say ‘used to’ because back on New Year’s Eve of 2020 into 2021, during our winter stormy period, we had a monstrous, unexpected, storm come in. It dealt a heavy blow to the town, but the beach communities fared the worst. The high winds blew out many glass patio doors in the high-rise hotels along the eastern strand and the rain made the packed caliche roads from Highway 3 to the beaches impassable.
This storm came with 85 mph sustained winds as registered by several weather stations on the Miramar beach (mine included). It drove the rain horizontally against our large picture windows, which do not take kindly to having that much water hitting the ‘weep holes’ at the base of the frames. So not only did we have to deal with the sand being blasted into our windows by the wind, but the water ingress into the house as well.
The storm was so intense and so unexpected (don’t get me started on the “weather man”…Yanet Garcia is excepted, of course!) that it took down some of the huge, high voltage, ‘tressel’ electrical towers along Highway 3 (the Caborca highway) and knocked down numerous electric poles which serve the Mayan Palace and the “playas” effectively sending us all back to the ‘camping on the beach’ stage of our youth.
Naturally, the storm hit at high tide. As we watched the storm driven tides rise, we were more than a little apprehensive about where the tide would finally stop…before it got the house or after it got “in” the house.
Those of us who were there then immediately went into emergency mode; getting candles and flashlights ready, battening down and tying down everything that could be blown away or moved by the winds and hoping the windows would hold. Of course, there was the mopping up of the water coming through the window frames to deal with as well. Every towel in the house was pressed into service to sop up the water.
Once the electricity was out, those of us who had them got our generators going. The generators are on hand to make sure the freezers and refrigerators would continue to function. Also, we needed to make sure the coffee maker was working as well, because coffee is not a matter of life and death…it’s more important than that!
When you live on the beach over 25 miles from town, you learn the art of being prepared. Our new neighbors had not experienced anything like this storm in their short time in Peñasco and so were not ready to deal with the consequences. We helped them to get through it with as little pain or problems as we could, and they adapted well. In fact, we ‘bonded’ over the experience, and they have become great friends. It’s a truly ‘ill-wind’ that doesn’t blow some good, isn’t it?
The storm passed and the next day dawned with bright sunshine, calm winds and mild temperatures. Oh, sure, we still had no power (it would remain out for almost 72 hours) but prudent use of the generator made life as close to normal as possible. We spent the next day or two cleaning up with nasty storm was in our rear view, except for retelling in columns like this.
Anyway, the reason I thought about that time was because this past New Year’s day, we had a similar storm pass through, bringing a little rain and a little wind, but it was gone almost as soon as it arrived…which is just how we like it!