I’m at the ranch today. Got here last night. It’s beautiful as usual, but dry. Yesterday there were “scouts,” clouds that might mean rain might come some day. But not yesterday and definitely not today. No scouts in sight. Breezy today, and the national weather forecast says there is a Red Flag Warning, which means that there is a high fire danger.
It is summer in Southern AZ and there is always a high fire danger until the rains come. Monsoon season supposedly starts tomorrow (Father’s Day). It used to start when there were three consecutive days of dew points above 65 degrees. (According to Wikipedia, the dew point is the water-to-air saturation ratio.) Back in the good ole days of non-uniform weather predictions. Back when the weather channel still talked about the weather in weather-like terms. Back when Michael Goodrich was the meteorologist for TV 4 in Tucson. Way back then.
Also back in the good ole days, the ranch used to flood during the monsoon rains. It would rain enough that the yellow dry dusty plain would turn into a green living thing, complete with running water and singing frogs. The flood, often a flash flood, would roar down the valley and sometimes go from one side of the valley to the other. Very very cool. I remember parking on one side of the valley (I had Sonja then) and wading across up to my waist to get to the house. I guess when it floods often, you note which areas of the valley are the most solid. I knew where to cross, and it wasn’t on the road – which had dips and puddles. I used a spreader dam to cross and then angled toward one of the fingers of the hill. I supposed I was lucky that nothing didn’t wash into me and that I didn’t step in a hole.
Prior to the floods, of course, a thunderstorm or twenty had to happen. Thunderstorms are amazing in AZ. The landscape is so wide open that you can see them coming. Large cumulus clouds form in the shape of an anvil, the temperature is hot and the air humid. The lightening flashes and BOOM, the sound rolls down the valley followed by a white sheet of rain. It’s fun to watch the rain come down the valley, and the smell of the newly wet trees is refreshing and pleasant.
I just can’t wait until the monsoon comes. The land needs the water, and I need the joy that it brings. Hopefully it will happen by San Juan’s day.
San Juan is St. John the Baptist (according to Google), who is the patron saint of water. June 24th is his day, and since all water on that day is blessed, if it rains, then it will be a good rainy season. According to the Pima County Public Library, the Spanish Explorer Coronado prayed for rain on June 24, 1540 and it did. So it became a tradition that San Juan’s day was the start of the monsoon season.
In recent years (the past decade or so), it seems that the monsoon has started in July. If it does rain on San Juan’s day, the rains go away for two weeks and then return for about 6 weeks from the second week in July until the end of August. Then it dries out again and the heat returns for the second half of summer. By Halloween, fall starts to show up, then winter by mid-December through February. Spring from February until mid-April. Then summer and some more summer and a handful of summer after that.
rain rain rain
I am so ready.