Saturday, July 28, 2007
Monsoon, didja say?
I don't know about you, but the weather-and-climate education of my squandered youth linked the word "monsoon" inexorably with the word "India." I saw myriad images on TV news and classroom films: torrential curtains of water, submerged homes, beleaguered people and animals... year after year after year. Excessive rainfall in an already humid and heady environment.
But that was elsewhere. Monsoons were obviously a completely foreign phenomenon. It was a relief to believe "monsoon=India," and that such frightening weather was definitely NOT going to be on my high desert, 10-inches-of-precipitation-a-year-if-we're-lucky, radar. Tornadoes and hail were enough, thank you very much.
So imagine my surprise when, as a full-fledged (in chronology if not behavior) adult, I heard a parched June gardener wishing aloud for the early arrival of the July monsoon.
In a land where an inch of rainfall over a 24-hour period is regarded as monumental I found it difficult to parse the idea of a local monsoon, but sure enough, we have one. It's even got a name: the North American Monsoon. (I didn't say it was a clever name.) And it has arrived.
Personally, I'm always glad to get a break in the summer heat and to enjoy the crash and rumble and splatter of our afternoon thunderstorms. (Thunder rumbled in acknowledgment as I typed that sentence.) Yesterday we had a doozy, with rain coming and going well into the evening. This morning there were puddles in the drive and a half inch of sparkling agua in the neighbor's rain gauge.
Yup. That's our monsoon. A half inch of rain.
Laugh if you want, but there are dire consequences in the wake of such weather excess. The Arkansas River "beach" out behind the café is gone! Continued runoff from last night brought the flow level back up and the wide summer-into-winter sandy bank is under water again. Paddlers are happy. Sand castle builders are not.
I'm sure it won't be long before the beach is back, but in the meantime it was nice to take a minute to make a little sketch and to watch the river flow a little more enthusiastically than it has recently. Monsoon? Bring it on!