Just in time for the excitement, I signed up for Rainlog.org and became part of a network of volunteers measuring rainfall in the greater Valley. It’s as easy as installing a rain gauge and reporting the data online. Arizona’s varied topography and seasonal weather patterns create pockets of weather that can vary dramatically, particularly during the monsoon season. At the RainMapper site you can view a map of the area that indicates all of the participating rain gauge locations and their readings. I reported half an inch of rainfall on Monday and three quarters of an inch of Tuesday.
The information gathered is used for watershed management and drought planning on local, county and state levels. The organization behind rainlog is SAHRA, Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas. This is a University of Arizona program designed to promote development of water related research projects. SAHRA integrates university curriculums in hydrology, ecology and physical sciences.
Once the gauge was in position, I headed for the nearest desert wash. The morning air was fresh and cool. Quails, thrashers and verdins celebrated. Clouds of insects hung in the air. On the floor of the canyon desert lavender boasted fleshy new leaves and the elephant trees were clad in vivid green. The bursera microphylla I always visit was completely bare a few weeks ago and already loads of burgundy berries ripen among her leaves. Wolfberry, turpentine bush, and brittle bush have also leafed out. Some weedier plants are setting flowers. It’s remarkable the transformation an inch of rain brings to the desert.