Rainy season, such as it is, arrives in Iraq
BAGHDAD — It’s raining.
And in Iraq, that’s news.
After four months of arid triple-digit heat, the rainy season is finally here — although to look around, you probably wouldn’t know it.
The season’s arrival came with a moody and protracted prelude. The skies over Baghdad darkened dramatically days before the first paltry droplets descended. The night air was thick with grey mist.
Lightning flashed dramatically for hours on end.
But don’t expect to be dancing in the rain anytime soon, says Air Force Capt. Troy Schulz, staff weather officer for the 4th Infantry Division.
In a typical year, he says, the Iraqi capital gets less than three inches of precipitation.
By comparison, Schulz’s duty station of Fort Hood, Texas, sees about 31 inches annually.
Much of the rain in Baghdad, he says, doesn’t even make it to the plains, because of the area’s “cloud basis.” Put simply, this means that because of the dry atmosphere, there isn’t enough moisture to form clouds until much higher altitudes, and rain has farther to fall.
Much of it evaporates before hitting the ground.
Weird? For Americans, maybe. But not for Iraqis, he says.
“Right now we’re just transitioning between the summer and fall seasons,” he says.
“It’s normal, especially for here. It’s typical. It’s a typical desert environment.”
Schulz says the rainy season, which starts in November and ends in March, can be quite pleasant.
“It actually starts to cool off a little bit,” he says. “The evenings are nice. As far as weatherwise, this is really the nicer time of year — unless you like 115, 120 degrees.”
He adds that some Americans may even be reminded of home.
“This would be typical weather that you see in the desert Southwest,” he says. “Arizona, New Mexico, they have the same type of weather.”
Those in Iraq can expect the rest of October to have highs in the 90s, with lows in the high 60s. By November, the average high will have dropped to the mid-70s.
Even in the frigid December days, Schulz says, Baghdad almost never freezes over: highs are usually in the 60s, with lows in the 50s.
Those expecting snow, he says, will likely be disappointed.
“Actually, our weather team has reported snow in Baghdad before,” he says, though he couldn’t say when it happened. “It doesn’t stay around long.”
Despite the lack of moisture, Schulz warns that the rainy season can be a problem.
“It doesn’t take much to make it miserable here,” he said. “You can get a half-inch of rain that can create a mess over here. The water just stands there.”
Odder still, he says, are the reactions from locals when the droplets start to fall.
But, he adds with a laugh, “The Americans freak out, too, when they see it rain. When they see it rain over here, they’re not used to it.”