9 APRIL 1998. NEOTROPICS: CLIMATE

"The earth continues to tilt the Northern Hemisphere towards the sun and thus the belt of rising, moist air girding the globe is moving northward bringing with it the rains to the northern Neotropics (and the northern Paleotropics as well!). The heaviest rains are falling about 200 nautical miles west of Ecuador. On the South American Continent, rains are falling along the southern boundaries of Colombia and Venezuela and throughout western Brazil and eastern Peru. A low pressure (988mb) area off Cape Hatteras, USA is sucking up the Atlantic high which is barely 1020mb, a long way east of central America, HENCE no winds here (the Trades). The Intertropical Convergence Zone (the belt of rising air mentioned above) at 1012mb is being down up northward toward another low (1008mb) over Mexico. It is raining in Java and Papua and a little over Borneo (may put fires out!) Here in Panama, scattered showers of a few minutes duration have already begun. Forecast? If the ITCZ gets stuck over the warm water off Ecuador and Peru, our rainy season will be delayed. That "anomalously warm" body of water (the El Nino ugh!!) is dissipating having never reached the predicted conditions. The tepid stuff has to go west for things to settle down. Remember that is the way energy goes at the equator as the earth turns to the east." Neal Smith <SMITHN@tivoli.si.edu>

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