Monday, June 06, 2016

Rain in Spades

Weather: Rain Wednesday and Saturday, wind and sun.

What’s blooming in the area: Catalpas, hybrid and pink roses, Dr. Huey rose rootstock, yellow potentilla, beauty bush, purple locust shrub, Spanish broom, sweet peas, Japanese honeysuckle, silver lace vine, broad leaf, weeping and Arizona yuccas, red hot pokers, datura, pink evening primrose, peony, oriental poppy, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, snow-in-summer, purple salvia, Shasta daisy, yellow yarrow.

Beyond the walls and fences: Showy milkweed, tumble mustard, tufted white evening primrose, velvetweed, scarlet bee blossom, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, scurf peas, purple loco, alfalfa, wild licorice, fleabane, goat’s beard, plains paper flower, strap leaf asters, native and common dandelions, brome, cheat, rice, needle and purple three awn grasses.

In my yard: Dorothy Perkins, Betty Prior, rugosa and miniature roses, chives, vinca, Maltese cross, pinks, coral bells, golden spur columbine, smooth beards tongue, baptisia, Johnson’s Blue geranium, Rose Queen, Rumanian and annual blue salvias, catmints, Ozark coneflower, chocolate flower, coreopsis, blanket flower, white yarrow.

Bedding plants: Pansies, wax begonias, snapdragons, marigolds.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, hummingbird in her nest and other small birds, geckoes, bumble and small bees, ladybugs, cabbage and swallowtail butterflies, hornets, ants, mosquitoes.

Weekly update: Rain Wednesday marked the boundary between late spring and early summer. The day before the first stormy disturbance for the season was reported off the west coast of Costa Rica. The day following afternoon temperatures jumped to the 80s and morning ones no longer fell below 50.

I still hadn’t put in many seeds because of the high winds, but by Saturday conditions seemed propitious. Seeds that planted themselves last year were beginning to germinate. The weather bureau was forecasting 30% chance of rain for Los Alamos and Santa Fé.

I planted most of them, and sprinkled some dry dirt and ant killer over their tops. The latter was to discourage the marauders for the few days it took for their prey to germinate.

The winds started a little after 3:30 pm, and the skies darkened around 6 pm. It seemed we had also entered the summer monsoon cycle of afternoon showers in Los Alamos that pass us by.

Then hard rain started at 6:50 pm, coming from the north. It continued for more than 10 minutes. Thunder was continuous, but lightening wasn’t obvious.

I checked the weather forecast again. Los Alamos was still only reporting a drizzle and Santa Fé nothing. There were no warnings about potential flooding like there usually are.

Rain continued, but not as hard. The thunder didn’t stop. And nothing appeared to change in the weather forecast.

Water had accumulated everywhere. My neighbors’ yards were flooded. I had pools for paths that were lined with bricks.

Finally at three the next morning, the weather bureau reported there had been flash flooding the night before. The only news report was a Twitter feed picked up by one television station that roads around La Puebla on the main road between Española and Santa Fé were being closed because of "severe flooding." I went to the road conditions map maintained on-line by the state to see if there were any residual warnings, and discovered it no longer showed Española as a location, only the surrounding pueblos.

I know I didn’t dream this. When I walked down to the near arroyo around 7 this morning, one man was out on his backhoe releveling his newly rutted drive. Mud caked grasses that were laying in the path of water backed up by a broken culvert.

In my own yard, the dirt and mulch of top of the seeds had moved, and more grit that dirt graced the surface. A few seeds lay exposed. A locust that had been attacked early by borers had fallen over the walk. And, of course, the protective ant killer had disappeared, and mosquitoes were everywhere.

But, maybe with didn’t have a storm, but something else. After all, those storms that get reported are cells that can be picked up by radar.

The continuous thunder with no lightening may have signified one air mass passing over the other, forcing out water as it went like a wringer.

Or maybe, there’s no radar north of Los Alamos to pick up storms. Whenever I look at the weather bureau loops forecasting the movements of clouds they always vaporize when they get to Rio Arriba County, and in fact we rarely do get rain.

I haven’t figured out if that means something about the narrowing distance between mountains prevents rain from falling, or as I said, there simply is no radar because there are so few people. After all, we’re no longer on the state map.

Photographs: All pictures taken this morning.

1. Water flattened grasses in the wash with the destroyed culvert.

2. Black locust down across my walk. The wind only finished what the borers had begun.

3. Mud silting the culverts under the road over the near arroyo. The height of the cut between the main bottom and the path of the water gives some indication of the amount of water that passed through.

4. Neighbor releveling his rutted drive.

5. Mud caked grasses where water was diverted in the #1 wash.

6. African daisy seeds and an emerging California poppy in a bed where the fine soil has disappeared, and only the grit remains on the surface. The African daisy seeds look like elm seeds.

7. Near arroyo, looking upstream.

8. The hummingbird in her nest, taken from a great distance. However, you can see the beak and tail. So far, she only watches me, but I don’t know how long the truce will last.

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