Wednesday September 20 2017

Posted by Tomas on May 06, 2015
  • Green desert and adobe ranch house between La Paz and Todos Santos
    Green desert and adobe ranch house between La Paz and Todos Santos
  • San Antonio in the Sierra Laguna mountains south of La Paz
    San Antonio in the Sierra Laguna mountains south of La Paz
  • Tres Virgenes is a series of three semi-inactive volcanos. The last known eruption was in the time of the first Spanish Jesuits
    Tres Virgenes is a series of three semi-inactive volcanos. The last known eruption was in the time of the first Spanish Jesuits
  • The desert takes just a few days after a good soaking rain to begin to show green
    The desert takes just a few days after a good soaking rain to begin to show green

The early season rains have brought the green back to the deserts of Baja Sur. Within days, the thirsty flora of our desert peninsula has began to take on shades of green. Soon the entire desert will be in bloom and a jaunt to the vast open areas of Baja Sur will be well worth a photo-safari.

This is early in the season for Baja to receive its first significant rain of the year. Usually the southern portions of the peninsula 'green-up' following the rains brought by a tropical cyclone or the near miss of one. Well in 2014 we had our first rains brought by the spin-off of Major Hurricane Christina in mid June and Tropical Storm Douglas in the first days of July. Since then the many places in Baja California Sur, particularly along the eastern side of the peninsula have received frequent evening thunderstorms and showers.

The rain we have received caused the cactus to swell with the intake of fresh water and soon the beautiful blooms of the San Miguel will add yellows and reds to the desert pallet.

Baja California Sur receives a bulk of the annual precipitation during the late summer and early fall. Tropical cyclones are our major source of that rainfall, so when we see these systems approaching not even half of it is bad news. The average rainfall numbers in Baja California Sur can be mind boggling different. In the desert regions inland, north and south of Guerrero Negro, they are almost in between climate zones and receive the least rain averaging about 3.4" per year. The average rainfall is about 7.5" per year. This was a little difficult for me to comprehend, coming from the "Green Mountain State" where we received that much rain in the month of June. (Usually on your day off.) But to my surprise I found some places in the mountainous region of BCS received as much as 32" of rain per year. These rains feed the arroyos and create the mountain waterfalls you should explore during our wet season.

In 2014 the desert has greened up early and continues to be fed by irregular afternoon showers. And as of now, the first week of August, we haven't even entered into the period of our heaviest precipitation.

If you are visiting Baja Sur during the next month or so we highly recommend you rent a car and take a tour of the Baja Sur Loop. In a quick day trip or a leisurely two day tour you can see the various wonders the tip of the peninsula has to offer. From Todos Santos on the Pacific to La Paz, El Triunfo, San Bartolo and Los Barriles, you can enjoy the beautiful and diverse rural environment this unique region has to offer.

The diving, fishing , kayaking and boating are the best at this time of year due to the predominantly calm seas and clear, warm water. This weather continues until about Thanksgiving or thereabouts when the “Northers” begin to blow on a more daily basis. Up until then we have almost spring like conditions with long grasses and flowers in full bloom. This will only last for a few more weeks as the winds begin to dry out the vegetation that has grown so intensely since the two hurricanes and latest rainstorms.

The Sierra de la Laguna usually receive rainfall almost daily. Usually, you can see the black clouds blanketing the mountains as you drive from Todos Santos to Cabo. But that has been a rarity this season, yet. And it may not happen for man-made reasons as well. The improvements to Highway 1 from the border to Los Cabos and to Hwy 19 along the Pacific coast have made storm road closures much less likely. Yet there are some places the surface water flows year round, like Aguas Calientes, San Bartolo and San Pedro Frijolar.

These summer storms are also what feeds the giant aquifers under areas like Pescadero, San Jose del Cabo, La Ribera and Santiago where there is water flowing underground year round. Water is always a precious commodity in our desert environment and we encourage all visitors and residents of Baja to use water wisely. Since it takes time for the grounds water to enter the aquifer system the rainfall over a five year period is important.

In the more Northern part of Baja Sur around Guerrero Negro the desert plains will sprout grasses and meadow like flowers in bloom. The Volcanoes “Tres Virgines” are already light green and covered with swollen cactus. There are Century plants and Boojums will soon be in full bloom throughout the Vizcaino Desert around Catavina.

If you have never seen the Baja during this time you are really missing out on something. This last drive I did had to be the most beautiful out of 15 years of driving the Baja! 

The heat will break, usually no later than the middle of October and planning a trip through the green deserts of Baja is a great idea for both tourists and those of us that live here - particularly if green is your favorite color!

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