3 DECEMBER 1997. PANAMA: CLIMATE (ITCZ)

"Today the Intertropical Convergence Zone is south of all of Central America and Panama. The atmospheric pressure here and in lower central America is relatively high at 1012 mb. Although the big high pressure cell in the Atlantic is distorted by a low off Nova Scotia, it reads a strong 1020 mb all the way south of Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola. That 8 mb difference is what is giving us the northerly winds e.g. typical of the beginning of the Dry Season. False starts have been common! Remember the sun is "entering" the Southern Hemisphere which is why the ITCZ moves to the south as the earth tilts the Northern Hemisphere away from the sun. Rains are occurring in coastal and Amazonian Peru and Ecuador but Venezuela , Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana are DRY as is northeastern Brazil.

Major thermal activity in the ITCZ is occurring in the mid Pacific along the equator to about 4 degrees north. The ITCZ is south of all of India but still north of Borneo and Papua. YES, there really is a lot of warm water out there!!!(read El Nino).

During the 1982-83 El Nino, the DRY season started with a jolt on the 18 th of November. Its major effect was the knock out of the rainy season rains of 1982 giving a dry period in some areas of central America and northern south America of slightly over 6 months. Things don't seem to be as extreme this time around. Yet the Panama Canal Commission continues to fret about the lack of reserves in Madden Lake and in Gatun as well. Last week, this major waterway was down by 2.7 feet at Gatun. If the lake is roughly 168 sq. miles, that is a lot of water."-- Neal Smith <SMITHN@tivoli.si.edu>.

Back to The 1997 El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO 97-98)