Monday, May 09, 2005

Rain! Woo! Yay!

The rainy season has begun. There's been a few false starts. We had a thunderstorm a week ago. Skies have been overcast the last few days. Then yesterday (Sunday), it broke. It rained and rained. Thunder was heard - not only from the sky, but from the raindrops hitting the corrugated roofs of the houses behind. There were even a few screams on the air - the sort of screams you get when people run out to rescue the washing from the deluge. It was good to hear.

Not that I'm looking forward to flooded streets, which are a recurrent problem in places such as the backpacker ghetto of  Phạm Ngũ Lão, and a chronic problem in District 6. Nor am I looking forward to wearing raincoats. You can wear one and drive a motorbike, but you have to watch for water trickling down your trouser legs. Needless to say, you also have to watch out for aquaplaning and skidding. But with the rain, we can now say good bye to the nasty, humid, overboiling temperatures of March and April. There's been some scorchers already, I hear. Forty degrees Celsius in Sài Gòn, and I heard they had forty-two in Thanh Hoá province. But now the big Hot is behind us for another year, and it isn't even June.

That's one of the little beauties of Sài Gòn for  you. According to Weatherbase, the average temperature doesn't change that much during the year: it varies from 26 to 30 °C. The average highs for each month are around 31, and the average lows are around 23. It doesn't look that different. But statistics are nothing if not manipulatable, and one tweak the site owners threw in was "Average Number of Days Above 95F/35C". Now the real difference comes to the surface. March has four, April has ten, and May has seven. The rest of the year - once or nil. That's a good stat to add, because those days above 35 are the days you notice. The joys of your freshly ironed shirt already wet from sweat in the back. You lie semi-naked under the fan on the floor, because it is cooler than the bed. And if you are very unlucky, you start having heatstroke in the house.

That's why everyone was happy to see the rains. The rains kills the heat. Unlike the flatlined precipitation rates of the start of the year, we'll be getting a centimetre of rain a day on average until October. By then, summer is gone, so when the rain drops off, the temperature does too. But for now, the thunderstorms are keeping it down by raining it down. Thank god for the rain.