High Points: Monsoon delights
Once upon a time, I used to think of Monsoon rains as tropical island events or something that only happened in Asian jungles. But when I moved to Aspen, oh-so many years ago, I came to appreciate the cooling rainy days that happen each July during the NAM, or the North American Monsoon.
There is something about the drama of the storms as they form each afternoon before it rains, the massive white thunderheads against the cobalt sky provide the perfect summer tableau. Then, as the clouds become angry and the wind blows and the thunder roars and the lightening flashes there is something almost primal. The Monsoon storms are bigger than we are and all we can do is take cover until they blow past. And when they do, the last of the evening sun peaks out from below the curtain of grey and casts an otherworldly glow across the mountainsides.
This phenomenon usually begins in late July when the winds change and bring moisture up over Arizona and New Mexico from the Gulf of California. Sometimes they stay on the eastern side of the continental divide and we get a dry year here. But other years the moisture will come right up over the western desert and bless us with a daily dousing.
This week, we got our first visit from the big dark clouds that will flow in from the south and drop, hopefully, prodigious amounts of rain on our valley. It is possible that, as you read this on a Friday morning, the rain is falling outside your window, as the forecast expects a cool and rainy day. We sure could use it. As of Wednesday we were three-inches plus behind our annual normal average of just over 9 inches of rain at this point. We all have felt the crispy grass under our feet as we walk in the backcountry. (How many times have you thought back to the dry summer two years ago when we had our brush fire in Basalt?)
But if all goes well, this will be the beginning of a big Monsoon season. The weather guys and gals call for afternoon storms each day for the next week at least. If that actually goes down we should be all right.
Obviously this has been an unusual year, but who would have thought that the first storms of the summer monsoons would coincide with the opening day of baseball season? While we were forced to delay our MLB games for three months due to the corona virus, the North American Monsoon rolled in right on time. Mother nature has her own rhythms and will not be deterred.
Let it rain.
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