Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 25, 2006 Newsletter Written at Hacienda San Juan Lizárraga one kilometer east of Telchac Pueblo, Yucatán, MÉXICO and issued from Hotel Reef Yucatan 13 kms to the north

I shouldn't talk about spring coming here because the Yucatan has a different system -- one where wet and rainy seasons alternate, with it always being warm to very hot, at least in the afternoons. On my "Yucatan Climate & Weather Page" a graph shows the details, here.

As I type this at 2PM on an average afternoon, it's 98° (37° C) outside my door. However, the humidity is so low that in the shade this feels good. You can see what the temperature is in Mérida right now as you read this, in the "current weather" box near the bottom of my "Yucatan Nature Page" here.

The thing is, about 2-½ weeks ago for a couple of days it rained like the dickens. "It's just like in the rainy season," Vladimir told me. Mornings started out muggy and partly cloudy, the clouds and heat then gathered toward noon, thunder would start rumbling from a storm far away on the horizon, and then about 3 PM the downpour would begin. We got 3-4 inches, I guess, and the most extraordinary thing was that we had hail -- lots of it as large as mothballs. Rains and hail like that aren't supposed to occur in the Yucatan at this time of year. We were happy about the rain but it made us wonder: "If the dry season this year is so screwed up, what will the hurricane season be like... ?"

The scrub forest, the roadsides and lawns are emerald green now, as if the rainy season already had begun, though that's not due until late May or early June. Some of the trees that had lost all their leaves are now as delicately green as freshly leafed-out maples up north. Grass and weed seeds have sprouted and many herbaceous plants are blossoming. I was here this time last year and then I saw what it's supposed to be like now -- everything was brown and crisply parched, and enormous fires started up every afternoon. There was a true ache of smoky, hot aridness, so this "springy" look to the landscape is almost eerie.

"I think these new leaves and the green grass may all die back," Roberto the gardener prophesizes. "It's just too early for this."