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Serving our country in the four seasons (of Iraq)

By Staff | May 1, 2009

Tom Maiden – A Military Journal for Friday, 5/01/2009 I have had the privilege of experiencing all four season in Iraq. When I arrived in Iraq last summer, the high temperature was 130 F. This past winter, the low temperature was 35 F.

The extremely hot, dry, clear summer months last from May through October. Temperatures are cooler in the northeast highlands. The summer months also feature strong winds and sandstorms. I experienced about five dust storms each month last summer.

Ninety percent of Iraqs rain falls between November and April. Most of that falls between December and March. The remaining six months, particularly June through August, are dry. Iraq receives 30 to 40 inches of rain annually and snow up to three months per year in some places. I have only seen it rain about ten times during my deployment.

The summer months also feature two types of wind. The southerly and southeasterly Sharqi is a dry, dusty wind with occasional gusts that occurs from April to early June and again from late September through November.

From mid-June to mid-September, the prevailing wind is called the shamal; it is a steady wind that blows from the north and northeast. The arid air brought by the shamal allows the sun to heat the land surface, but the constant breeze has some cooling effect.

It is hard to think of Jefferson County, West Virginia, without thinking of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Similarly, one cannot think of Iraq without the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are the life-blood of Iraq, providing the necessary water to sustain the urban population and support agriculture in a predominantly arid climate.

A number of dames have been constructed in Turkey to store water for irrigation. This has significantly reduced the flow of water entering Iraq, especially from the Euphrates.

Of these twin rivers, Iraq exercises the greatest control over the Tigris. More than 80 percent of this river runs through Iraq. Of even greater significance, nearly 60 percent of the fresh water inflow enters the Tigris through tributaries that collect runoff within Iraq >from the Zagros Mountain range.

Following the Gulf War in 1991 and the ensuing civil unrest of the Shiites, Sadam Husseins regime implemented an aggressive plan to drain the Mesopotamian marshlands (an area larger than the Florida Everglades). As a result, I was sad to see that 90 percent of the original wetlands were eliminated, leaving a barren salty crust.

– Tom Maiden lives in Shepherdstown with his wife and four children. He is currently serving in Iraq. When not serving as a “Citizen Sailor,” Tom works part-time teaching insurance and financial planning at Shepherd University and owns a financial planning practice in Shepherdstown.