Monday, July 28, 2008

Hello, Dolly! Tropical Depression Meets Monsoon


This has been a bad year for the TAAS Summer Star Parties at Oak Flat Picnic Grounds on South Highway Fourteen.

In June, the forest was closed due to extreme fire danger and the Solstice Picnic and observing party was cancelled.
This month, with the Engineering Geek staging the event, it was a hurricane.

A hurricane? I hear you asking. What? Nine hundred miles from the nearest ocean waters?

Well, actually, it was the remnants of Hurricane Dolly--now the remnants of a tropical depression that moved north from the Brownsville Texas Area up the Rio Grande Valley, socking in the whole state of New Mexico and causing serious flash flooding. Our mountain neosols, already saturated, just cannot hold as much water as the deep loams in the midwest.
So without further ado, I bring you a Nearly Wordless Special post.

Here comes the second wave!

I was teaching in ABQ for the first wave, but caught this at suppertime when I got home. I was in a windowless room teaching, but I could hear the rain on the roof and I got the Engineering Geek's message by cell phone. The TAAS event was cancelled.

The torrent pours out of the dark clouds,
cascading off the eaves at the back of the house.
It rained like this for a good hour.
The Geek said we had gotten 0.98 of an inch
earlier in the afternoon.
Neither of us wanted to venture out to check
the evening total.

The clouds over the Sandia Mountain Front lift their skirts slightly, so that we can see the pink sunset horizon as the rain continues to fall.

As water puddled up over the culvert at the top of the driveway and spilled down toward Sedillo wash to the south of the house, we were glad we did not have to go anywhere.

Yesterday morning, we ventured out to observe the aftermath. The dogs were as curious as we were.

The morning did not dawn, rather the light came up gradually, softly through heavy fog.

From the Los Pecos extension of the road, we saw mud flats and standing water below the very large culvert on the new road. Los Pecos Loop.

The heavy fog was shifting, curtains of it moving across the sky, playing hide-and-seek with the rising sun.

We moved as though through a mass of warm, moist cotton, our footsteps muffled, our voices hushed.

The Geek checked the rain guage as we ended our morning walk, partially obscured by the "jungle," as we call the abundance of flora that has burgeoned in this really good monsoon summer.

We got 0.25 of an inch more Saturday night, giving us a total for Saturday of nearly an inch and a quarter.

We had some flash flooding, but nothing as severe as Ruidoso, to the southeast in the Sierra Blanco, where they got four inches in less than 24 hours.

The flash floods there cut off the entire town, and people went missing in the raging Ruidoso River.

Good-bye, Dolly!

We watched the as the storm swept northeast, over the shoulder of the Sandias as we sipped our coffee in the breakfast nook.

The rest of Sunday was warm and sunny. And more humid than we are used to experiencing.

One of my students drives down from Santa Fe for my Sunday afternoon level 5 class. His mom said they drove through serious rain and hail near Budaghers--the last wave.

As I write, five Air Guard helicopters just flew low over our house, headed to Ruidoso. They say that all the bridges over Rio Ruidoso are out, and the recovery will be long and expensive.


Susan said...

Nice rain gauge! We have the ones with farm implement logos on them. ;-)

On the radio yesterday, our U of I meteorologist said Dolly remnants are heading our direction by tomorrow. It's a small world, after all.

Alasandra said...

You have been nominated for Alasandra's HBA, I have a badge you can put on your blog if you would like.