We are entering a period of extreme heat for the desert southwest and temperatures in Mexicali will likely exceed 115 F for the next day or two. In San Felipe today, we have high cloud passing over as tropical moisture from the hurricanes out in the Pacific makes its way north. The cloud gives us some welcome relief from the intense sunshine and we are currently experiencing temperatures along the coast in the mid- to high-80′s. Unfortunately, those living in regions just a mile or two inland, such as El Dorado, are already experiencing temperatures in the 100-110 degree range. For those who enjoy swimming, the sea water is close to perfect at 93F.
Of the two active hurricanes south of the tip of Baja, Emilia is developing into a major category 4 hurricane with sustained winds above 130 mph. However, if the track of the storm continues as forecast, Emilia should pose no threat to land.
For us in San Felipe, the worst threat of storm conditions historically comes in late August and the month of September. Any single storm that comes north up the Sea of Cortez can bring us 2-6 inches of rain in a single day, though I well remember when Nora in 1997 scored a direct hit on the region and we had more than 13 inches overnight which caused the great washouts of the roads in the area and cut us off from Mexicali for 3 days.
Last weeks windstorm combined with the high tides was particularly damaging to the Malecon area of town and further inspection has shown that there needs to be a lot of repair to the sea wall and boardwalk area of the street. This comes after the city has just spent over $1 million dollars on upgrading and beautifying the area. The photo below shows the undercutting of the wall and the collapse of the palm tree planters opposite the Rockodile.
In places, people are standing on the edge of the relatively thin concrete apron and do not realize that there is a major void underneath. The city has put up cones and strung warning tape in places but these are routinely ignored and the Saturday night crowds that gather to sit on the remaining sections of the wall and drink their beverages are flirting with disaster.
How to repair the Malecon is being discussed at the highest level but this is a major new construction project. Bulldozers can pile up sand and trucks can bring loads of rock to form rip-rap before the August high tides but these are only stopgap measures to what is really needed – a new seawall some 2-3 meters east of the fallen wall. This would require an extremely expensive foundation construction in the Federal Zone and would take “donkeys-years” to plan, fund and execute based on the demonstrated performance of other major projects (e.g. the Mexicali road). However, the future of downtown San Felipe requires a stable and storm-proof Malecon to prosper.
On the subject of the Mexicali roadworks, it is obvious that this is going to be a grueling summer for visitors to get to San Felipe by the direct route. The highway from north of the Ensenada road junction to the south end of the Laguna Salada is being worked on. It is bad enough to drive on the desert floor if the light is good, the graders are operating and the water trucks are spraying to keep down the dust. For anyone who dares to do the trip after dark the risks are substantial.
The Mexicali road diversions at night
I always advise visitors never to drive on any roads in Mexico after dark; but to navigate a road under construction, with no lighting, no marking of the edges of where the temporary surface ends and the desert begins, with the onslaught of heavy cargo vehicles that take to the highways at night like giant roaches, with visibility reduced to a few yards so you cannot see sharp rocks till you are right on top of them, with people trying to replace flat tires without being able to pull off the road…. it is just too risky. Don’t even try to do it! Until the work is finished (in 6 months??), I shall take the Ensenada route.