Monday, June 16, 2008

Desert Series #3 - Gulf Coast Deserts

The Gulf Coast section of the Sonoran Desert extends from Bahia Los Angeles along the Sea of Cortez to the tip of the Peninsula (San Jose del Cabo). The further south you travel in Baja the hotter (generally speaking)it gets, with temperatures on the Sea of Cortez side approximately 10 degrees higher than the Pacific Coast. Summertime temperatures in the Gulf Coast Desert region often rise above 100F. Sizzling hot.

The mountain ranges on the Peninsula create a rain shadow effect on the Sea of Cortez side protecting it from winter rains. Much of the moisture found in this area comes from tropical storms during hurricane season. These tropical storms, or chubascos as they are also called, can have winds reaching speeds of up to 200 kph.

Cardon cacti are prevalent on the Gulf Coast often in large tracts. They are less dominant in desert forests north as they can not survive the winter frosts. Other trees in the Gulf Coast Desert include palo verde, ocotillo, ironwood and elephant trees. There are few small shrubs in this region as there shallow root systems and lack of water storage don't survive the long droughts that can last several years.

Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation Guide to the Baja California Peninsula

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