Thursday, January 21, 2010

Relief

It's snowing!

Yesterday morning the University delayed opening until 10 AM. About 6:30 this morning we received a text message that the University would open at 11 AM. At 8:15 a closure message was received.

Here's a blurb from the national weather service's winter storm warning. "SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: EXPECT 2 TO 4 FEET OF SNOW BY SATURDAY ABOVE 6500 FEET...WITH 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE 7000 FEET." Julie researched the current snow depth from snow received earlier in the week -- 22 inches. We have about six inches around our house, most of which has fallen in the last three hours.

This is good news. Not because we're off work today but because we need the moisture.

Last summer was the most extreme that we've experienced since moving to our current location. Normally summer monsoons provide enough rain that wild flowers and green grasses grow. Last summer there were only a few stunted Globemallow that hid among brown grasses. There were no Four O'clocks. Only one Rocky Mountain Bee Plant bloomed in the yard near an area where I watered some Irises. A few Datura bloomed but not as large or as many as normal. Other varieties of flowers were missing.

Normally a large rain will fill a neighbor's dry pond and for a night or two large frogs will emerge, sing, mate and disappear for another year. Last summer the pond was dry and the frogs were missing. I wonder how many consecutive dry years they can survive.

In summer herds of Pronghorn cab be seen on the road drinking from puddles. Last summer the puddles were dry too often and we saw few Pronghorn. Near the end of the summer I followed a female with one young offspring down the road. She walked to the large hole that usually holds some water, pawed at the dry dust and then walked off the road and into the trees. Her stress was obvious by the fact that she walked slowly in front of the car rather than fleeing off the road as they customarily do.

Over Christmas we had supper with a group of friends and the discussion turned to the "driest summer on record". I wondered about the accuracy of this statement until I received a newsletter from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. "According to the National Weather Service, 2009 was the second driest year on record since records started in 1898. The Flagstaff area received 8.6 inches of precipitation, compared to a 1971-2000 annual average of 20.6 inches." Typically, we receive only a fraction of what Flagstaff receives.

Snow is always better than rain. Rather than running off quickly and collecting in low spots, snow melts, soaks into the ground, makes mud for days and nourishes trees, grasses and wildlife.

Hopefully, this snow will provide relief for a few months.

Snow on utility building.
Snow falling on the utility building. I've had to sweep the satellite dish twice this morning to get Internet access. I'll leave the ladder until the storm passes. (Larger version)

1 Comments:

Blogger THE Michael said...

Here's hoping the next summer doesn't dry it all right back up again.

1/21/2010 07:22:00 PM  

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