is credited with saying, "Climate is what we expect, weather
is what we get." Regardless of what we think or do, the
weather is going to happen and so will life. Despite the uncontrollable
inevitability of these happenings, it is useful to be fully aware
of them and when possible make choices that will make the most
things and avoid unnecessary hazards. Besides, both life and
weather tend to be more interesting if you don't sleep through
them. With this bit of wisdom in mind, I keep looking up and
daily monitor the weather (if you need more reasons to look up
checkout this link).
Here is how I do it:
I get out of bed in the morning, I look out our second story
windows to the east and south to see what the sky in general
The type of clouds, their height, direction of movement and
the general direction of the winds all get my attention.
am grateful to still be on the planet in a very special place
facing another day of interesting events to include the weather.
I make a melita drip cup of wonderful Palmira Gold (Boquete
coffee grown and roasted on our small Palmira Arriba coffee
on the computer and check the ever fluctuating internet speed
for this day/moment. I then check the Yahoo, Google and NYT
headlines, but don't read the details. I do that later after
I have more coffee on board and my courage is up. I then go
3. If I am in a hurry, which I try to avoid in my retirement,
I click on the button.
This section delivers the basic things needed to monitor our
weather on the run. It starts with our WeatherHawk Palmira
Arriba weather station summary. This station is located on
our property and gives us the local read on things. Since I have
a "special relationship" with the owners,
I know the station is of good quality and is well maintained.
I can trust the readings. I especially
note the direction of the wind. I then take a quick look at the
weather conditions. I then scroll down to the infrared
satellite image, check when it was last updated (usually
30 to 60 minutes ago), and look carefully at the cloud systems
over and around our area of Panama. The brighter the graphic
colors, the colder and higher the cloud systems with red representing
the highest cloud systems.
High clouds typically are associated with cumulonimbus clouds
and thunderstorms. I then drop down to the satellite image of
wind direction and note which direction the winds are generally
moving. This gives some idea of which direction the cloud systems
will be moving during the day. I then take a look at the Caribbean
Synoptic Chart (again noting when it was last updated)
to see where the ITCZ is hovering and the general weather picture
for the Caribbean. I go down to the latest Tropical
Weather Discussion and read what the experts are saying.
I pay the most attention to the comments related to our area.
of this takes less than 5 minutes.
If I am not in a hurry, I start by going to the section.
I check the latest Caribbean
Synoptic Chart and then check the Unified
Surface Analysis Chart where I can click on the chart to
get a close-up synoptic chart of the details of our area. I
then read the latest Tropical
Weather Discussion. This gives me an overview of weather
in the Caribbean and I can check for any information specifically
about Panama. I usually take a look at Brian
McNoldy's Pacific and Atlantic ITCZ Status page to see
a graphical display of the ITCZ. If there is potential storm
activity developing in the Atlantic-Caribbean areas, I go to
Underground Tropical Storms web site. I think this is the
single best weather web site on the internet. For a minimal
annual fee of about $4.00 it is advertisement free and you
are supporting a good thing. The tropical weather blog by Dr.
Jeff Masters is worth reading to get insights and information
regarding tropical storms from a very experienced meteorologist.
If there is a tropical storm going on, I also check some of
I then go to the section.
This page automatically downloads the latest visible, infrared
and vapor images as well as 3 levels of wind images. I look
all of these images over and click on the images for larger
more detailed views of cloud and moisture areas
as well as the direction of wind movement at the 3 levels.
out the CIMSS
Tropical Wave Tracking images if there are reports of interesting
tropical waves reported in the tropical discussion. I always
check the NOAA Infrared
Satellite Loop for Western Atlantic - Caribbean Region.
I think this is the best loop site on the internet. Although
it is a Java Script program that takes a bit of downloading
time it is worth the wait.
of interactive features to incluce a zoom feature that allows
you to zoom into areas of interest to view more local action.
I usually turn-on the latitude-longitude
grid, find the Chiriqui area (8°N 82°W) and zoom
to see how things are moving in our area. The GOES
Full Globe Interactive Infrared Image gives a full view
of our side of the globe and allows you to click on it to zoom
into the Panama area. I occasionally check this out. Every
few days, I also check the image of the Latest
World Sea Temperatures because I am curious and the image
Next I click to the section
and check the local readings at the Boquete District stations.
I start at out Palmira
Arriba station and then look at Santuario and Volcancito.
necessary, I check the Palmira Station archived data at the Weather
Underground site. In the section on climate,
I discuss the cautions in using private weather station readings
mentioned that you should
always check to make sure that the data is current. While
at the stations section I also glance at the banners for David,
Santiago and Panama City. I occasionally go to the Hidrometeorologia
Republica de Panama forecasts section and check their forecasts
for Chiriqui lowlands and highlands.
If there is an earthquake, I go to the section
and see what the USGS and
de Geociencias has to say
about it. Having some information seems to comfort me a bit
since I find it quite unnerving to have the earth beneath me
have it. This is my way with weather. This may seem complicated,
but the entire process usually takes only 10-15 minutes.
I sip our Palmira Gold coffee and think about it. With time,
I am learning more
about the weather in this area and will eventually
have more data on which to build forecasts and climate information.
current wet season I try to make daily predictions regarding
the rain. If I am
feeling confident about it, I tell my
wife, our farm manager and our caretaker. When I am right, they
seldom say anything. When I am wrong they joke and
laughingly ask me the next day, "What
is your prediction today?" Of course, I can usually be right
during the rainy season by saying, "There will probably be rain
today." This gets further laughs. Throughout the day,
I check our station readings to see how the temperature and
Sudden shifts in the wind from north to south are often associated
with impending rain. If it rains, I check the rate of rain fall
and monitor the totals for
and year. It is fun to watch the data when the thunderstorms
rumbling and dumping their torrential buckets. Throughout the
day, I frequently look up and watch the sky. At times, I try
the beauty of it in pixels. I always marvel at the beauty and
the mystery of it all. It makes me smile.
enjoy the variation of weather that we have in this Tropical
Paradise. I agree with John Steinbeck who said, "I've lived
in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather
rather than climate." Regardless of the daily weather, I
try to enjoy it. If it rains long and hard I try to remember
the advice of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The best thing
one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."