Having grown up in the southeast United States, I am no stranger to summer flash thunderstorms. And in fact, moving to California, where 90s R&B told us it never rains in the southern regions, and the drought is a frightening reality, I honestly missed storms and rainfall.
But I do not remember storms like this when I was here in 2012-2013.
|The view from my room during a storm|
Thunder and lightning are not a requirement in these Abidjan storms; instead, the bloated dark grey clouds unleash gallons and gallons of rain all over the city, turning paths into rivers and clobbering makeshift homes. The resulting clatter is impressive and lasts for hours. Children still play in the rain, but adults seek shelter wherever they can, or women wear plastic bags to cover their hair. Abidjan has faced precarious rainy season problems in the past, with major flooding throughout the city. But our neighbor, Ghana, has seen much worse this year: An explosion at a gas station resulted in hundreds of deaths, partially because people were seeking shelter from the rains under the awnings of the station, and the rescue effort was impeded by flooding.
|A nearby shantytown in the rain|
The upside is the lower temperatures post-storm and overcast skies preventing the sun from baking the earth. Soon the storms will dwindle and the warmth will return. But for now, I will try not to forget the “Hajj 2013” umbrella a colleague lent me and hope that things will calm down before I travel into the interior of the country where the likelihood of washed out roads is much higher.