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(506) 223-1327               San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 221                  E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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There are signs the season is changing . . . Honest!
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite the rain and despite the high probability that this morning is a soggy one, the Costa Rican weather experts said that the season is in transition.

That means good-bye, rain, and hello, high season.

The days that follow will alternate between dry and rainy, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional in its prediction for today. But because a cold front has moved into Nicaragua the full benefit of the seasonable change will not be seen immediately, said the weather bureau. That's the reason for additional rain and downpours this week even as the winds from the north pick up.

The winds from the north push away the unsettled weather and provide much of Costa Rica with a windy, sometimes chilly dry season that runs from sometime in December through April.

The weather prediction has statistics on its side. A nine year study of weather conditions shows that November has 19 days with rain in San José and precipitation of 143.9 millimeters (about 5.66 inches), December usually has just eight rainy days and 38.6 millimeters of rain (some 1.5 inches).

The average number of rainy days for January, February and March are from three to four, 
according to the statistics. April picks up with seven days on average.

The dry season moves into the country from the north, so the season arrives first in the north Pacific and last in Golfito and the south Pacific. Liberia has only a few rainy days from December to April, according to the summary.

In Golfito, the average for December is 11 rainy days with January, February and March having from six to seven. From May through November there the monthly precipitation is around 500 millimeters (nearly 20 inches).

The Caribbean coast does not really have a dry season, although it has been unusually dry this year. Typically December and January are months of heavy rain, and each month sees from 19 to 28 days with rain, according to the institute's compilation.

With the start of the dry season in the Central Valley residents are adding blankets to their bed because temperatures can be in the mid-50s (14 C.) at nights.

This has been a rough rainy season for the Pacific coast and some locations inland where hurricanes and tropical storms drenched the soil, caused landslides and resulted in heavy flooding and even loss of life.

Series of shakes reminds Nicoya residents of geological realities
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A string of six small earthquakes hit in the vicinity of the Nicoya Peninsula Monday, and  residents are talking about the possibility of a big one.

The string of quakes began Monday about 1:39 p.m. some 2 kms. southeast of Nicoya. This was a 3.4 magnitude quake and was felt in Sámara, Carrillo and Nicoya, according to the national emergency commission. Similar quakes followed at 4:33 p.m. and 5:39 p.m. The biggest was a magnitude 4.9 at 6:22 p.m.

The quakes were attributed to the Cocos plate moving under the Caribe plate. The plates overlap just off the Pacific coast of the peninsula. The juncture of these two plates creates the potential for a large earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 or higher.

Earthquake experts always complain that geological activity around the Nicoya prompts excessive talk about a prediction that the area is due for a major quake. They argue that smaller quakes take off the pressure and work against a big, sudden movement.

Big quakes have hit the peninsula in 1853, 1900 and 1950. Experts have estimated a period of
earthquake map
U.S. Geological Survey
Fault lines in Guanacaste are pictured in black or blue. The purple line is the offshore Pacific trench marking the top of the juncture of the Caribe and Cocos plates.

recurrence of from 48 to 50.7 years with standard deviations of from 2 to 4 years. With those numbers, the peninsula is about due for a major shakeup, but Mother Nature and geology are notoriously hard to predict. The emergency commission said that quakes are so common that no alert has been issued.

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