Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Storm Report


No, nothing like South Carolina, though no doubt there will be plenty of people down here complaining about it. Personally, I've gotten tired of watching the precipitation going around us in every direction but never falling here. Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale - they've all gotten plenty of rain this so-called Monsoon Season. Those are just in-The-Valley communities. All the mountain areas have shown lots of water on a regular basis. We get TV coverage of flooding - yeah, looks like a whole three inches there, buddy! - and the usual stupid folk who think whatever they see that used to be pavement is OK to drive through.

But as for weather here, it's been dry and sunny, with temperatures in the three digits. I'm sure the AC bill is also going to be way higher in the three digits for the last month than we'd like too, and we cranked it up over 80. Hey, not bad for folks coming down from a Minnesota summer where there were a whole two days over 90 in our three months there.

It's been wet for us the last three days. You could actually hear the occasional raindrop hitting the metal roof of our patio. That is, as long as you were quiet and listening for it. I've been optimistically checking the new rain gauge I put up in the fence a couple weeks back. It's the kind that collects from a wide area so the rainfall of an inch rises about 4" in the tube. The orange ring floating on top of the water makes it easy for our geezer eyes to read, even from inside the patio or house.

Nada. Even the more optimistic 5 minute sprinkles that occasionally stray into the actual shower category, the kind that actually coat the driveway enough for it to get wet rather than each drop evaporating by the time the next one lands, don't show up in the gauge. Yesterday morning my neighbor across that fence asked what that gizmo was for, so I got to explain the concept to him. He left scratching his head. He had long since decided that Del Webb had measured precipitation in various spots around The Valley, found the one where it never rained, and built a whole community there, calling it Sun City. Truth in advertising, don'cha know.

Last night there was enough rainfall that it was dripping off the roof. I mean really dripping, enough rain to slide down the incline and splat on the ground! Wheeee! I looked at the rain gauge this morning and... nothing.

I headed out to lapidary this morning, leaving after another such memorable but unregistered shower, planing to spend a few hours at least, making up for staying away for over a week with a miserable cold. I've improved to the point where I can actually yawn without feeling like I was ripping open the back of my throat prompting yet another coughing fit. Plus, it's been well over 5 days and I shouldn't be contagious any more.

You're welcome.

A shower went through while I was busy inside. I never noticed it, but somebody commented on it and there were actual puddles here and there! Puddles! Golleee! The only reason I noticed the puddles was that they locked up the room and shooed everybody out about 11:30. They can do that because there aren't enough volunteers back south yet, and without a monitor (to call 911, I guess, if you decide to do something really clever like pour molten metals over yourself or grind your fingertips off while working a stone) you can't stay in the room alone.

I checked the sky while scootering home and saw the cloud that had recently pretended to wring itself out over the area. I also noticed a darkening to the south, from whence our weather commeth these last few days. Looked like we were in for another teeny shower, if we were lucky.

I checked the radar when I got home. It looked like we might be blessed with another shower but we could just as easily be skipped, depending on upper level winds. Steve and I had errands to run, and I talked him into our using the car rather than scootering.

Just in case.

OK, I get it. This all seems really minor to you, doesn't it? Ho hum, a few drops of rain, big deal. Really, I get it. I also get the water bill, and to try to figure out what bushes we're going to be able to plant in the yard this weekend after the Botanical Garden's semi-annual plant sale and maybe have them survive over next summer. I get to check the daily radar for the homesite from up in Minnesota while we're vacationing, so I can see what's not happening. A whole month of dashed hopes in situ does matter in our scale of things.

So back to actually getting our storm.

Our last stop was KFC for their Tuesday special, then heading home. Since the last few days were cool even if not wet, our plan was to sit out on the patio and watch the weather roll in. Or not. Facing the system on the last mile of our drive, we noted not only how dark the clouds were, but the greenish blue tint where the clouds kinda split apart.

Now that was a familiar sight!. Hail, maybe?

While we sat out with our lunch, we heard a steady rumble, and I mean steady. No breaks. Lightning flashes didn't bring an increase in noise levels, so we knew there was enough of it going on in the tops of the clouds to give an unceasing barrage of cloud to cloud strikes. We only saw flashes of brightness, not individual strikes, so it all must be high. By the time we finished eating, there was again the pitter patter of little raindrops on the metal roof.

Dang! It looked like we were going to be missed again.

But then we weren't. Boy, it came down. In fact, it still is, though it's back to a light shower now. The wind has shifted, so I had to close the windows on the north side of the house. We'd kept them open the last three days to cool off the house and quit running the AC. It's officially 62 degrees outside at the moment, and that stiff breeze has me chilled.  The sky's lighter to the south now, so it should clear before too long, though the radar still shows plenty of green over the area. The buckets we set out under the patio eaves when there's a reason to expect runoff are full up. The rain gauge, read from my bedroom window, shows about a half inch. Puddles stand in the yard, including over the painted spots left this morning by the call-before-you-dig guys. The paint isn't water soluable, apparently. Good thing, though the yellow and orange flags are still standing. We start digging as soon as we feel up to it, and now we know where and where not to. I'll take pictures too, but not till after the rain stops.

Hey, do you know how long I've waited to be able to say that?

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For the record, we're going to be looking for orange bells (yellow bells if there are no orange), Chihauhaun sage, Texas mountain laurel, yellow San Marcos hibiscus, yellow bird of paradise, flame honeysuckle. If all are available, we have priorities, since space has some limitations. All will be kept pruned to bush size. All need TLC the first 6 months or so, and then should adapt to Sonoran conditions. It worked for the 3 trees and 4 ocatillos we planted last fall. The succulents gave mixed results. We did learn about protecting EVERYTHING from our voracious local rabbits. In fact, I just finished pruning dead branches from our palo verde where the bunnies burrowed under the fencing and stripped the bark before we discovered it and went out and purchased tent stakes for the fencing. The red yuccas will be getting taller cages, since our bunnies don't know that bunnies don't normally eat those and have leaned in over the top to prune them low for us.

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