September Rain Revival

Lemon turpentine fragrance of Elephant Tree is divine

Lemon turpentine fragrance of Elephant Tree is divine

IMGP3625For two days the rain poured down in Phoenix. Streets flooded, water retention basins morphed into lakes and the desert drank deeply. This event was courtesy of tropical storm Lorena. She menaced the southern tip of Baja late last week, causing school closures and emptying streets. But Lorena veered from the coastline and aimed north, where she weakened and slowed crossing the desert. She sparked storms across a wide swath of the Southwest and presented the greater Phoenix area with a nice drenching. My one hundred gallon rain tank is now full to the brim and the plants in my backyard will enjoy a healthy supply of low salt, high nitrogen rain water over the coming weeks.

Just in time for the excitement, I signed up for 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.


One response to “September Rain Revival

  1. How glorious…I want to measures rain also…will look into it.

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