03 January 2013

Weather reports and reflections

Parts of France are under hurricane warnings this morning. They're not the parts you might think of, but they will be experiencing damaging winds and high surf later today, because of a tropical cyclone. One place is Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar. I have an old friend who lives there, and I'm sending positive thoughts. L'île de la Réunion is a French département, just as the Hawaiian Islands are a U.S. state.

As you'll see from looking at the photos in this post, the weather here in Saint-Aignan
is damp, but it's less extreme than in many other places around the world.

Another nearby island that will be affected by the same cyclone is Mauritius, and one of our commenting friends (I mean yours and mine) is originally from there. She calls herself Beaver here on the blog, because she lives in Canada, but she has family members who still live on l'île Maurice, I believe. Maurice or Mauritius is not French — it's an independent country, but people there speak French as well as Creole and English. Let's send them positive thoughts too. It looks like a bad storm will be rolling through.

There's also a tropical storm affecting New Caledonia, in the South Pacific. That's part of France too. I've heard less about that one so far.

Meanwhile, here in Saint-Aignan, the wet, wet, wet month of December is over, and it turned out not to be the wettest December we've had in ten years. We got four inches (100 mm) of precipitation in December 2012, and it was all rain — no snow. But Walt looked back at our records and found out that December 2011 was even wetter, with six inches of rain! How soon we forget.

And Walt just told me that the temperature in his home town is –16ºC this morning — that's +3ºF. I repeat, 3º. At least we don't have to deal with that. I just looked, and I see that the temperature in Canada where Beaver lives is –7ºF right now. That's near –22ºC. Let's send her positive thoughts too.

We're spoiled here as far as cold weather goes. Or windy weather. We don't get much. Of course, we don't get much hot weather either. But here in Saint-Aignan we get more hot weather in summertime than we ever did in San Francisco, where the temperature varies from lows around 40ºF all the way up to highs in the low 70s most of the time, and in all seasons. Or what passes for seasons out there.

Once when we lived there, there was an article reporting that the city of San Francisco had just experienced one of the longest "heat waves" in it's history. The temperature had been above 70ºF for six days in a row. It was probably in July. I know I scanned and saved that article, but I wouldn't know how to find it now. It's somewhere on a disc or on my computer.

Here, right now, it's mild and wet. The ground is extremely muddy — squishy. The soil where we live is a mixture of clay and limestone, and it is famously imperméable. When it rains the way it has been raining, there's a lot of runoff. Down the hill, the river is overflowing (but not really flooding). The pond out back is also overflowing. We're not in any danger, if you except the danger of slipping and falling on the slippery clay when we go out for walks with Callie.


  1. Bonjour Cousine,
    Je joins mes vœux à ceux de Ken pour que le cyclone épargne votre famille, tous les habitants de l’Île Maurice et tous ceux qui se trouvent sur son chemin.

    Ici en Virginie, il ne fait pas chaud, mais je pense à vous à Montréal, si j’en crois Ken!

  2. I think part of the reason that our impression is that this Dec was wetter than the previous is that in 2011 we were just so relieved that it rained at all, and even though by the end of the year we had almost made up the deficit, the ground did not get saturated like it did in 2012. Also, Jan/Feb 2012 were very dry, so our memory is of a dry winter overall for 2011/12.

  3. My brother is on a cruise ship in New Caledonia. Nothing much has been reported here, so it seems like it may be a serious one.

  4. I always think of my old KY home when I see your photos of squishy mud. Our back yard was a mess this time of year, especially since my horse tracked it up. We kept galoshes by the door and wore them whenever we went out there.

    That said, the tomatoes out of that same soil were the best I ever tasted.

    I enjoyed your photos-I'm beginning to enjoy January more and more. Guess it's because I'm getting older, much older....

  5. Hi Ken and Charles-Henry

    Thank you for your positive thoughts. Sister who lives in DC just flew there over the WE to spend the new year with my brother and they were expecting the cyclone to reach them on Thursday evening ( they are ahead of me by 9 hours) . I have just called them and they have been spared though the west coast was hit with 100 km/hr gusts and heavy rain. They do need the rain because there is always a shortage of water on the island. They told me that La Réunion was hit badly as well as another island in the north - Agaléga which is a possession of Mauriitus.

    As far as we are concerned in Montréal, it was -30 C overnight with the wind and this morning it was -21C ( -28C with wind) when I went out to get the newspaper.

  6. I woke up to hear on the radio that we were at 21 degrees F. which is cold enough for me! (Eugene, Oregon)
    We read about Réunion last summer in my french class. I wasn't aware that they were in such a heavy wind area.
    My thoughts are with Beaver's family.

  7. Wet or dry, you get some really beautiful skies!

  8. Starman, that's true, but not every day.

    As for La Réunion, the French news reports say there was plus de peur que de mal but still, a lot of trees blew over, electricity and running water were out for tens of thousands of residence, and roads were washed out. No deaths, however.

    Evelyn, living on the NC coast, I was used to well-drained, sandy soil. After leaving there, I lived in cities for three decades or more, so the Saint-Aignan mud is a new experience for me.

    Mary, 21ºF sounds very cold for that part of Oregon. Maybe I'm wrong...

    Andrew, I hope your brother is okay. I heard there was one person dead and one person missing after the cyclone hit New Caledonia.

    Susan, yep.


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