Thursday, 29 July 2010

The More Things Change.....(and some newer pictures in the slideshow)

     Our flooding situation here in the McAllen - Mission area remains pretty much the same.   Those of us who understand the hydrology keep a wary eye posted on our weather radar on the old home computer.   Any significant rains....say from 5 to 10 inches over a three to five day period and over a extension of 30 to 50 per cent of the area from the face of the Sierra Madre Oriental to a point near Acun~a, Coahuila/ Del Rio, Texas down to as far as Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon can conceivably wreak disaster on the Lower Rio Grande Valley.    All Mexican reservoirs are filled to beyond 100 per cent of capacity....and the international reservoirs are at or near capacity and the floodways throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley are running at or near capacity.   So....while people on both sides of the Rio Grande / Ri0 Bravo have become a bit complacent and/or accepting of the danger....the proximity of catastrophe remains.    We have another ten days, perhaps a bit longer because of recent moderate but significant rainfall in the watershed, to remain especially vigilant.
      Our place, the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre, still remains dry, although I am informed that the Rio Corona, adjacent to our property, has remained at high levels.   At least it is contained within its maximum flow stage, and remains about 160 yards away from the house.    The Rio Corona does not drain into the Rio Grande.   It does join the Rio Soto la Marina at the juncture of Lake Vicente Guerrero, east of Ciudad Victoria.....all of this is 200 miles south of the Frontier.   The Rio soto la Marina runs due east upon leaving the lake and empties into the Gulf of Mexico near La Pesca, Tamaulipas. (great surf and estuary fishing)

     For those who have inquired, my father-in-law is better....but better is certainly a relative term.   He is extremely limited in his scope of activity, but at least he is not suffering or in any severe pain.    It takes three family members, two health workers, and one doctor to address his issues.  My mother-in-law and my wife are the ones who are paying most of the price of caring for this fine old gentleman.   My brother-in-law, his wife, and my sister-in-law have spared nothing in the way of effort....(which is considerable, in that they live a great distance from the Valley)...or resources.    We are fortunate that things are only as bad as they are.

     Other things that do not seem to change is Chilpancingo, Guerrero, the capital of the State of Guerrero.   This is an important State to us Gringos because Acapulco is situated there.    It is also a place that has long been associated with violence....violence between the various Indian ethnicities, violence in politics, violence caused by bandits (sometimes against other bandits).   This has been a characteristic of the area since before the Spanish Conquest.    The white man came in and changed things...(?)
      One particularly telling statistic is that since the Mexican Revolution of 1910 - 1917  no Governor of the State of Guerrero ever completed his term.   I think this rule has been violated recently....but only once or twice.   The Governors were either run out of office by angry Indians, lynched by angry everybodies, or skipped town ahead of the crowd, or sneaked out to the United States, Cuba, Spain, or France with a generous portion of the State Treasury.
     Various States of the Mexican United States have had frequent and/or extended terms of "gobierno militar provisional temporal".    Guerrero is certainly one.    Another State, San Luis Potosi, had a "proviosional military temporary government"  run by a nice gentleman named Gen. Santos on three separate occasions.   The joke in San Luis Potosi was that they had a permanent temporary military government.

     To be sure, the violence and absurdity we are witnessing in Mexico at this time pales before the violence  that was being witnessed just before the Revolution of 1910 to a point shortly before the outbreak of World War II.   This is especially true if one considers the issue on a per capita basis.   In those years ten or fifteen thousand people of all classes, races, ethnicities, and pursuations were slaughtered, PER YEAR....when the population was less than 20,000,000.     Americans living and working in Mexico at that time numbered between 20,000 and 40,000 in any given year....but well over 2,000 were murdered ...many especially by leftist Carranza supporters and general banditry during and just after the Revolucion.
      But I diverge.....In Guerrero State, apparently there is the rize of a "White Hand".   Six bodies of known thugs and cartelistas were found outside of Chilpancingo with a notice that read " No more rape, no more murder, no more kidnapping, no more violence,  (signed) The Cartel of the Sierra".    Supposedly the each of the bodies had a tag...."corruption", "rape", murder", "extorsion", "kidnapping", "violence".    Perhaps a cryptic "six horsemen of the apocolypse".   The international press declared that it was the rize of a new drug cartel but such a thing is very, very improbable.... many Mexicans are of the opinion that it is a bunch of people who have been watching old Cisco Kid and Zorro shows.    Who knows?
     I shall be signing off again for a bit.   Any new news will be reported quickly.    As usual, thank you for your kind attention and time.
The Old Gringo

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Locally heavy rainfall may exacerbate flood conditions near floodways and other poor drainage areas in the Lower RGV

Locally heavy rainfall may exacerbate flood conditions near floodways and other poor drainage areas in the Lower RGV: "Future Evolution: Northern Mexico
Current forecast data suggest a several day period of very heavy rainfall moving into the central and northern Sierra Madre Oriental, including across areas which received several feet of rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Alex and Tropical Depression #2. These areas include portions of the Mexican States of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, perhaps extending northwest into Chihuahua. Another 10 to 20 inches of rain is possible into early next week in these areas; such rainfall would eventually flow into the system of reservoirs and dams in Mexico and along the Rio Grande, ultimately reaching the Lower Rio Grande. Such a situation, if it develops, would result in continued high water and some degree of flooding along and near the River and associated Floodways through the end of July and into the first weeks of August.
Much more information will be available from this website as conditions evolve over the next several weeks. Remember to stay safe if living or working along or near the Rio Grande and Floodway system."

     This is today's official analysis from the Brownsville Weather Service, referring to what is ahead and relating to what my last couple of entries have been about.   It is truly an amazing development and now South Texas and northeastern Mexico may have a chance to dodge more bullets in the dark.
The old Gringo

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Deeper and Wider and More

     This has been a real time of it.   The area of northeastern Mexico comprised of the States of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila which received the brunt of Hurricane Alex (reference previous blog entry) have since received another dose.   This came in the form of  "almost Hurricane Bonnie", a tropical depression that came ashore on the central Gulf coast of Tamaulipas.    This system actually crossed directly over our little Quinta on the banks of the Rio Corona.   We had 16.5 inches of rain in two days.   The mountains to the west had much, much more.    There were reasonable reports of up to 45 inches over a three day period.     This is to be added to what we had received before.
     Our little sedate mountain stream....the Rio Corona....rose up to within about 20 feet of our adobe house, our second threat inside of the month.   The neighbour's old mequite tree that shades our southeast corner was blown down....there was much damage to the Montezuma Cypress trees which line the Rio Corona...but not fatal.    This meant that the winds were much stronger that those which were supposed to have accompanied the 35 mph estimates.   Everyone scoffed at such official velocities.
      Much of the energy of this second system continued to the northwest and dumped prodigous amounts of rain over the same area previously affected by Hurricane Alex.   The Rio Grande's drainage basin collected copious amounts of runoff.   The Rio San Juan, the Alamo, the Salado, the Sabinal, along with upriver inflows being captured by Amistad Reservoir near Del Rio, Texas all joined in the game.   Falcon Reservoir, built in 1953, rose to its highest retention in history....the Mexican rivers overflowed their dams, their banks, and everything possible.    At this moment the floodway system in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is almost at capacity and the Rio Grande is just barely beginning a fall from cresting.    More rain is on the way, however.
      The highways between the Laredos (Texas and Tamauliipas) and the Monterrey metroplex were inundated....there was much damage.   Laredo is the busiest land port between two countries in the world.   The back up was all but incomprehensible.   Tractor-trailer rigs were backed up two-abreast for forty miles on the Mexican side and 35 miles on the American.   Train convoys were in a similar position.  Everyone was tied up from 4 to 6 days.
       I shall report a bit more on this.   We in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas are in precarity at this time, although the water is no longer rising.   The possible arrival of new systems can change this at any time.    In the previous blog I wrote that the governor of Nuevo Leon had estimated damages to be as high as a billion dollars....this is almost a macabre joke at this point.   All the damage, throughout the affected three State surely more in the neighbourhood of 50 billion dollars, if not more....and much of this damage is upon construction and installation of a generally good to excellent quality.   It is a pity.....but perhaps greater things will be built with and upon the ruins.    For sure this area is going to see a severe labour shortage for the coming three years.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

This has been some strange time

     This has been some strange time.   My father-in-law is a bit improved, but still very far from his previous active self.   My mother-in-law is pleasantly exhausted....spending 14 to 22 hours per day at the hospital at her husband's side.    My wife goes about her business, working 10 hours a day, and then spending another 10 hours a day attending to her mother's loose ends, helping her father in the hospital.    I have been very helpful to the overall effort, contributing 1/10 of 1 per cent to the overall effort.   At least my wife has four hours left over every day to wait on me hand and foot.....which is only right or the Good Lord would not have put 25 hours in every day.
     We went through a bit of a "near miss" from Hurricane Alex...still receiving from 18 inches of rain (eastern, coastal sections) to around 12 inches overall here in the middle of the Magic Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.    Up against the Sierra Madre Oriental, from near Cd. Victoria to well north of the Monterrey metroplex....say up to Eagle Pass and Del Rio....rains of 25 to 50 inches have been recorded since the arrival of Hurreicane Alex on the coast of Tamaulipas back on the 3rd of July.    The Monterrey metroplex is a mess.   It is a shame because it is a place that rises up out of its own disorder, always improving.   The Gobernador of Nuevo Leon says that there might be a billion dollars of damage just in the metroplex (a contiguous arrangement of 4,000,000 people in 7 different cities and/or counties).     Some reasonable and conservative type people have stated that it might be more like 5 billion dollars worth of damage.   Incredibly, only 15 people are known to be dead.   For those familiar with the matter, this rain and storm event has proven to be much, much worse than Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, or Beulah in September of 1967.    Those are benchmark disasters, now eclipsed by Alex.
     It is well to point out that the Monterrey metroplex is essentially an assembly of fairly good to quite excellent construction and public facility.   It has long been the largest metropolitan area in Latin America where one could drink the water from the tap without concern...(since about 1896)...for instance.

     Our treasured Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre, nestled by the cypress-lined Rio Corona....watched warily as the water approached her walls.   The final line of advance came to almost the same point as had the run-off from Hurricane Beulah in September of 1967.   While I was not there at the time, our friend and neighbour who is the owner of the Hacienda de la Vega next door was there and kept us informed of the inch-by-inch progress of the floods.   Neither their place nor ours was damaged after the arrival of the runoff of what was finally 63 inches of rain over four days at the 4,000 foot level of the Sierra, four miles to our east.   This rainfall was fairly common throughout the face of the various cordilleras of the Sierra Madre Oriental during the Hurricane Alex period. 

     Oddly, we had only a few hours of electrical service interruption , and apparently there were no leaks from any part of the roof.   Small but significant victories.

More later.
The Old Gringo