November 14, 2013-It has been a while since I blogged, a combination of iffy Wi-Fi and lots to do and see as we continue to journey southward. After Punta Banda we headed for Catavina, however we delayed as we need to extract John with his A Class from the sand, then Dom & Diane with their van and travel trailer, the good news it was not Lisa and I for a change! The first leg of the trip was easy under sunny skies, this changed as we made our way to the Onyx Cafe 30 minutes north of Catavina. Yes the wind picked up, Santa Anna’s from east to west, they were quite strong. We slowed down of course, unfortunately the semi-trucks did not. Joe & Sera had a mirror wacked by an on-coming semi and we lost a mirror (#8) from a passing big rig. Everyone was happy to pull into Rancho Santa Inez, we were not alone, we had over 25 RVs overnight at the campground. We had 19 people at dinner at Oscar & Maltida’s little restaurant, their granddaughter Marla was a wonderful server. Thanks goes out to Bruce & Marian and Gord & Gwen for heads up on the road conditions. Lots of new road, and highway construction on the first 3 driving days, this is all good.
The next day we departed early to avoid any wind that might come up. Arrived in Guerrero Negro just after lunch and were the only RVs in at the Malarrimo RV Park. After set up we were off to Tony’s Tacos then grocery shopping. Dinner at Malarrimo’s was excellent as always, the Wifi worked for a while, then not. The power and water was off when we arrived but did come on after a couple of hours. A few people did take the salt tour and really enjoyed it. As we were getting ready to depart we discovered Fred’s storage Pod was becoming a concern, more on that later. I would like to say our drive the next day to San Ignacio was uneventful, we had some excitement when Fred & Brenda got stuck (really stuck) in a Propane Station sandtrap. We worked together to get them extracted and off we went to San Ignacio.
We arrived in San Ignacio no worse for wear although Fred & Brenda did experience a RV like Movie moment when they dumped, enough said, everyone knows what I mean. You will be happy to know the Margaritas are still great and food tasty. Another day, another adventure and we continued south to Santa Rosalia. The ferry was out so we had room to park, after our walking tour, some shopping that included baked goods from the World Famous Bakery, we were off to our destination, Playa Santispac.
Playa Santispac, was definitely what we all have been waiting for. Fred, with the help of others including Gary, got his Pod issue resolved, the propane filling challenge fixed and a loose mirror re-worked so no more flapping around. Fred also purchased a collapsible hammock, well kind of, as the Palapa collapsed when he tried it out. The good news Fred & Brenda got a new Palapa! Fun & adventure always as promised, folks really enjoyed the kayak and stand up paddleboard, walking on the beach, snorkeling and just lazing about. Ilona did find out what a Stingray felt like but was okay in a couple of hours; that would be the adventure part! It was great to see our friends Bruce & Marian, Terry & Lee, Chris & Jeannie, Gord & Gwen (Los Cocos), Wayne & Glenna (Coyote) and Don & Suzanne. As always Bruce & Marian had lots of firewood and the wonderful potluck was followed with a blazing fire and some music, this is always a great evening.
The drive from Bahia Concepcion to Loreto is always beautiful, particularly this year with all the summer and fall rain. Speaking of water we have never seen Loreto so wet, water everywhere, literally! This has caused lots of problems, particularly with the marginal sewer system. On arrival we had a good chin wag with Marvin and Shelley who have a winter hacienda here, a visit with Kathy & Hector who operate a couple of businesses in town, also Bob from Juncalito, quite a fisherman. Jim & Michelle dropped by to see us at the campground, they found some inexpensive digs out at Nopolo. Later this evening we are off to the Giggling Dolphin for our Fiesta Dinner, then tomorrow our journey up to the San Javier Mission. Should be exciting given the rock slide that took away a large section of road.
Did you know?
Of the average 16 storms per season 3 to 4 achieve Major Hurricane Status (that of Category 3 or greater) on Baja. Only two Major Hurricanes have ever made landfall in Baja California Sur since 1949, Hurricane Paul in 1982 and Hurricane Kiko in 1989 both made landfall as a Category 3 storm on the East Cape. Only the ‘old timer’s’ remember those storms, as very few people called the East Cape home at the time a Cabo San Lucas with a handful of little hotels and a dirt runway where there marina now resides. Because of the topography of the peninsula it is not uncommon for a storm to lash one side of Baja Sur while 60 miles away residents have a cloudy day with sprinkles. This was the case with powerful Hurricane Paul in 2012. Paul pounded the Pacific side near Magdalena Bay while La Paz on the Sea of Cortez side had light rain for a day.
The earliest Tropical Cyclone (one of Tropical Storm intensity or greater) to make landfall in Baja was Tropical Storm Calvin on July 8th, 1993. The earliest hurricane to make landfall in Baja was an unnamed storm on July 17, 1954, making landfall near San Ignacio. Both of these systems were ‘freaks’ and the 1954 storm was of dubious data, as only the La Paz airport and ship reports were used in the gathering of information. The deadliest storm was Hurricane Lisa in September of 1976. Lisa was a Category 4 Hurricane that passed up the Sea of Cortez and made landfall near Guaymas. A local dam posed a threat of failure, so the local military commander decided to relieve the pressure and blew a hole in the earth burm. The hole grew rapidly and emptied the reservoir above the city of La Paz into the arroyos below. Figures conflict but more than 3500 people lost their lives from a storm that didn’t even make landfall on the peninsula.
Anyone who has spent the summer in Baja knows, about August 15th the days become still and humid, and this is in addition to near 100 degree heat every day. Thunderstorms appear regularly over the mountains between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz. By the end of the month it feels like hurricane weather across all of Baja California Sur and the conditions are ripe for a Baja landfall. Five hurricanes have made landfall in Baja Sur in August. All of them after August 16 and three of them in the last 7 days of the month. The last week of August and the first week of September have brought the landfall of H1 Ignacio, H2 John, H1 Henriette in the last 10 years making it one of our highest probability periods.
The warm water of the Sea can be in the upper 80°’s by late August and this becomes a very strong hurricane magnet. Storms that generate NW of Acapulco can sometimes get stuck ‘inside’ and travel up the Sea. Hurricane Ignacio did exactly that on August 26, 2003. The good news is August tropical cyclones in Baja are still rare. The upper atmosphere steering winds are still moving eastward far north of the hurricane track and a majority of the storms move off into the colder waters of the Pacific and spin apart. However, August can spawn monster storms too, like Hurricane Kiko in 1989. Kiko made it to Category 3 has it churned up the Sea of Cortez and made landfall on the East Cape with winds in excess of 120 MPH. Kiko was one of only two Category 3 storms to ever make landfall in Baja.
September is the month to be a storm watcher in Baja. More than 150 tropical storms have passed within 250 miles of Cabo San Lucas since 1949. Many of them were just tropical storms, but September is the peak of the storm season. By mid September the jet stream has dropped well down into Baja Sur before it makes a dramatic turn to the east. The counter-clockwise rotation of Low pressure systems in the northern hemisphere makes storms naturally want to ‘roll off’ to the west. When the jet stream reaches south over Baja it can draw these late season storms back to the east and across Baja and into the Sea of Cortez.
The jet stream can make a hurricane turn and it can tear it apart. The central column of convection is the engine that drives a hurricane. Hard turns or strong high altitude winds can disrupt the column and spin the storm apart. As the northern hemisphere cools these upper atmosphere steering winds drop further down Baja before turning east. The combination of these winds and energy still built up in the tropical regions are what make the period from September 20th to October 7th the peak of our storm season. September has brought the only other Major Hurricane, Paul, to make landfall on the peninsula in 1982, and again on East Cape. Hurricane Liza was the closest a Category 4 every came to Baja, passing just to the east of East Cape in 1976 and causing the flood in La Paz. In 2009 Hurricane Jimena cross then peninsula and emerged near Loreto. The storm stalled, reversed course and hung out over the Sea coast between Loreto and Mulege for more than 36hrs, dumping an incredible 27 inches of rain during the period.
The Hurricane season often ends even more dramatically than it began. Over the past few years a number of late season storms have slammed the Pacific coast and crossed the peninsula to bring devastating rains to Loreto, Mulege and Santa Rosalia. The first 10 days of October are dangerous for Baja Sur, by the 12th the odds drop considerably. In 2008 Hurricane Norbert slammed the relatively uninhabited west coast as a Category 2, Hurricane Javier The latest hurricane to make landfall on the Baja peninsula was the freak storm Olivia in 1967 on October 15. Olivia crossed the peninsula as a Tropical Storm emerging in the Sea to become a Category 1 Hurricane to peak at Category 3 before coming ashore again near Loreto. But here I must take time to dispel a popular legend, Olivia is the only storm since 1949 to gain strength when re-entering the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez.
In 2012 Hurricane Paul came very close to braking that record, pounding the Pacific coast from Magdalena Bay to San Ignacio and pouring many inches of rain down on the central valley of Baja Sur. Paul did its damage on October 17, but failed to become the latest tropical cyclone to make landfall, as it skirted the coast for more than 100 miles but only made landfall as a Tropical Depression and only for a few kilometers, just north of Punta Abreojos. By the third week of October the entire Eastern Pacific begins to calmed down. A high pressure system will slide down into northern Mexico and begin to dry out not only the Pacific basin, but the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean too. This is one of the best times to visit Baja California Sur, immediately following the break in the weather. The humidity vanishes over night, the temps drop by 5 to 10 degrees and the Sea of Cortez is still wonderfully warm.
*Courtesy of Baja Insider