Tom Clyde: A rainy start to summer
May 29, 2015
So I guess it’s going to rain. It would have been nice if this had come in February, as snow, instead of those spring-like temperatures and long dry spells. I think the temperature lately has been about what we saw in March, and it’s cooler than April was. But in a year when water will be hard to come by, any rain is good rain. The reservoirs are gradually filling up. The Uinta lakes are about 87 percent full. Jordanelle is about 75 percent full, which isn’t bad for a reservoir that was designed for a multi-year cycle. The little reservoirs in the Uintas, Trial and Washington Lakes are intended to fill and drain every year. If they get close to full, things might not be so bad in August.
The Provo River is flowing about 75 percent of normal for this time of year. Even with the rain, it isn’t rising like it normally does. It typically peaks this week. I think it probably hit high-water a couple of weeks ago. If it will hold at this level for a while, things should be OK. All the rain has been soaking in, and while it’s not the same as a gradual snow melt into July, there is clearly some ground water movement going on. A little spring near my house usually produces enough water to be a nuisance for the spring farm work. This year it has been bone dry. I noticed it was finally flowing a little.
Under normal expectations, it will dry out and the farm will need irrigation. It has since 1880. This year hasn’t been normal under any definition of the word, and who knows what to expect. Powder skiing on the 4th of July would not be surprising. After a couple of weeks of soaking, my guess is we will go back to the drought pattern. I’ve been working at getting the irrigation system ready to go. There will be that sweet spot where there is still enough water in the river to irrigate with, and one good watering in mid-June might make a first crop of hay. All bets are off for the second cutting. So I’ve been out in the mud fussing with a pump that developed a leaky seal and was shooting water everywhere but where it was intended to go. I felt kind of stupid standing in a pouring rain in the parking lot of the repair shop, unloading a sprinkler pump. It only took a minute to get it out of the car, but I got soaked through.
Nothing seems normal this year. Boston got buried in the snow. Tornadoes have come early and often in the Midwest. Texas and Oklahoma got a year’s worth of rain in a week, with terrible flooding. They’ve been in a multi-year drought, then get flooded out. Rivers rose 25 feet in a hour in Houston. That’s going from a dry suburban lawn to water flowing in the second floor windows in the time it takes to each lunch. I’m anxiously waiting to hear Pat Robertson or Franklin Graham announce which sinners are responsible for this. Somehow it’s all Obama’s fault — try to talk with the Iranians and God will smite Texas. It just works that way.
Devine retribution or not, all that rain will help refill their lakes, and they really need some water, though maybe not all at once. It probably came too fast to do much in terms of recharging the deeper aquifers. They need a longer, less extreme cycle to get soaked up.
Meanwhile, India is having a heat wave that is killing people. Temperatures of 120 degrees day after day. My guess is most people there don’t have the luxury of air conditioning, and a little bit of shade just doesn’t make a difference.
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The people behind the climate change hoax are doing a pretty convincing job, if you ask me. I switched to LED light globes, and it didn’t make a bit of difference so far.
The Memorial Day Weekend is always a big deal out at my place. It’s the season opener, with all kinds of special events ranging from the rained-out bonfire to filling a neighborhood dumpster. Every year, I say I’m going to attack my garage without mercy and see if I can’t empty it out. And every year, I manage to part with a few things. For some reason, 35 years’ worth of old skis that are piled up in the back of the garage survive the cut. I went at it again this year, and the skis are still there. So are piles of tractor parts so miscellaneous that I no longer remember what they are or which tractor they came off.
Rain or shine, summer has started.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.