Monday, January 09, 2006
Stealing our thunder
On this day last year (admittedly an exceptional year for hereabouts), our area had recorded 82 inches of snow since September 1. This year, we've had "a trace" since September 1. The norm is for 35 inches of snow by now. We've had 2.25 inches of precipitation since September 1; the norm is for 8.25 inches by now, and by this time last year we had had 16.5 inches of total precipitation. Each week, OmegaMom pulls up the 7-day forecast from NOAA. Once every two weeks, there's a day that has lovely "party cloudy" weather icons, and a POP (probability of precipitation) approaching 50%. Then, as the days go by, and that day gets closer, the POP drops...and drops...and drops. A week ago, there was rain in the state. A bit. On the radar pictures, there was a swath of moisture that started at the southwest corner of the state and marched directly across to the northeast corner. There was a divot out of this stretch of clouds that marked the town where the Omegas lived. Typically, the fire season starts hereabouts in early May. This year, we can feel it in the air: fire season is going to be early. In the eight years we've lived here, OmegaMom has become quite good at triangulating between plumes of smoke and the location of the hippy-dippy one-time vacation enclave in the woods where the Omegas live as she drives down the highway. If the plume of smoke is north of the highway, all is well for the Omegas (not necessarily for others). If the plume is south of the highway, OmegaMom's keen, razorlike mind focuses in and determines just how close it is to home. Last year was a luxurious mental break from the constant niggling worry during May, June, late September and October. So much water had made its way to the area that Natural Lake had water in it for the first time in years; the Forest Service had had to open up the spillway from Upper Dam Lake to Lower Dam Lake, and area inhabitants had gone to the spillway to gawk, incredulously, at the roar of water spilling out. The woods stayed soggy until late in the year; the roads and trails up the mountains were still closed in July due to snow and mud. But now...now it's looking pretty crispy critters out there. Of course, this isn't going to do any good for the problem with the pine bark beetle, which two and a half years ago had accounted for the death of up to 4 million ponderosa and pinyon pines in the state. OmegaMom understands that there are stay-at-home parental units in the Oregon area who would kill for an end to rain this year. OmegaMom assures them that she would equally kill for a return to more normal precipitation here. Maybe we can all trade?