Friday, March 02, 2012

Mexico City Weather Part 1

Almost invariably we need to clarify proper attire for guests coming to Mexico.  Convention wisdom states that Mexico is hazy, hot and humid.  Images of the little Mexican man sitting under a cactus come to mind, or perhaps a tourist sitting under a makeshift thatched hut on the beach drinking a refreshing beverage.  Turns out a huge portion of Mexico isn’t like that at all.  Most of the large population centers, including Guadalajara, Puebla and Mexico City, are located on Mexico’s central plateau, or  Mexican Altiplano.  The elevated mesa runs from close to the U.S. Mexico border, the whole way south to the trans-Mexican volcanic belt, locally known as the Sierra Nevada, or snowy mountains. 

From the Nevada de Colima (Nevado de Colima (14,236 ft./ 4,339 meters) on the west coast, the volcanic range passes through the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico State, Morelos and Puebla.  The trans-Mexico volcanic best boasts all of Mexico’s highest peaks, including the Nevado de Toluca (15,354 ft./ 4,640 meters), the snow-covered peaks of  Popocatépetl (17,887 ft/5,452 metres) and  Iztaccíhuatl (17,343 ft./ 5,286 meters), the volcanic mountains that cast their shadows on Puebla and Mexico City.  La Maliche, o Matlalcueitl ((14,636 ft./ 4,461 meters) is located north of the city of Puebla, and the series of towering peaks ends with a bang, as the trans-Mexican volcanic belt merges with the Sierra Madre Oriental range, near the border of the states of Puebla and Veracruz.  Mexico’s highest peak, Pico de Orizaba, towers 18,491 ft. (5,636 meters) above sea level.

Pico de Orizaba is the third largest peak in North America, with Mount McKinley in Alaska, U.S. and Mount Logan in Yukon, Canada.  The volcano is currently dormant, but is not yet considered extinct.  Due to its prominent location at the edge of the central plateau, it is thought to be the second most prominent, easily visible volcano in the world, after Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, Africa.

The central plateau covers much of northern and central Mexico, and its average height above sea level is just short of 6000 ft.  Mexico City has an elevation of near 7,200 ft. above sea level, quite a bit higher than a mile in the sky.  Such altitude is happily used to the advantage of Mexican soccer teams, when visitors have to play the Mexican national team in Mexico City, at the Estadio Azteca, or Aztec Stadium.  The altitude, combined with 115,000 screaming fans, can be an intimating scenario indeed.

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