the rainy season


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Africa » Malawi » Southern » Blantyre
December 12th 2009
Published: December 12th 2009
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‘The municipal pipe bursts, silver crashes to the ground’ Blessing.

As I’m writing this (though I may not be posting it for a few weeks) there is loud thunder every few minutes, great rolling crashes of sound that echo around, and a definite, wonderful smell of warmth and moisture in the air (one of my two favourite smells, the other being the smell of warm evenings, just as the sun drops below the horizon and every things cooling off). For the last few days it has been almost unbearably hot and humid (making me feel permanently warm and sleepy), sunny in the mornings and some afternoons cooled by short, heavy, showers from the heavy grey and black clouds overhead. Big drops of rain are pattering and pounding onto the roof (oddly reminisant of camping holidays). These warning showers are promising the rainy season is almost here.
From what I understand when the rains really get going there are 2 or 3 days of alternately wet and then dry weather, though they can last for a week or longer nonstop. 95% of the rains fall at this time, in Blantyre there is an average rainfall of 1,127mm. These rains should continue until around March or April, when winter starts.
It’s now about a week later, this morning when I opened the curtains, instead of the sun there were grey clouds that have been getting thicker and darker all day. There has been a definite humid oppressed feeling, and a smell on the air that says it’s going to pee down in a major way. The rain is now pouring down, occasionally accompanied by sheets of lightening and crashes of thunder (sometimes not always accompanying one another) it somehow it has a different feel to the warning showers, a more sustained note that sounds like this storm is going to last for a long time. This now is the start of the rainy season.
The weather can change in an instant, we’ve just been caught in the rain as we went out to do some jobs; we waited in the entrance of a bakery for ages until it had calmed down a bit, then ran the few minutes’ walk back to the office. We misjudged it and still got soaked. It was still raining hard, just softer than a few minutes before. Luckily wearing a cotton shirt means I dried out quickly. It’s amazing to see how quickly plants have capitalised on the rains, areas of ground that were just soil last week now have a growth of grass. Even by the side of the road, on the mud washed by the rain, there is now greenery.
Ironically the wet weather can disrupt water supplies in Blantyre. This is because the rain waters wash down into the Shire River, where the drinking water is pumped from, this brings a lot of silt and other rubbish with it, which blocks off the filters and causes the shortages. While I was at Lake Malawi in Mangochi, it was really evident how low the waters were right at the end of the dry season (part of the reason I fell ill. The drinking water comes from the lake, ALWAYS remember to boil it) the water’s edge that was right to the wall and under the trees (in pictures) during January and February, was 10m further down the sand.
I’m sure that by the end of April I will be sick of the rain, of being damp and covered in mud. Though for the moment I love the rain, the storms and how clear the air is after a storm. I can’t wait for them to start when it’s dry, the sound of rain on the roof and getting soaked when walking.

Tionana


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