High Points: Summer rains tap at my window
It’s no secret that this has been one beauty of a summer.
People are randomly saying things like, “This reminds me of how summers used to be,” and “It looks like the Alps.” They are right on both counts. This has been a throwback to times past when we used to get near daily summer rain showers and the hills and meadows are as green as those high mountain passes that link France and Switzerland. Same as it ever was.
Of course, the main reason for the hyperbole has been the rains. On most afternoons, and even some mornings, we have had downpours — I mean absolute gully washers — that have left their mark. Some of our steeper trails have been recalibrated with rock falls and flowing mud thanks to the rushing water. And the wet afternoons, with their lightning and rumbles of thunder, have made backcountry camping an adventure this summer. Hope your tents have rain flaps. And let’s not forget the soaking wet dogs who get caught in the rain and shake it off in the mud room. Yes, a rainy summer has its challenges.
The rains have hit the Aspen Music Festival tents dramatically hard on more than one occasion thus far, as well. Though I wasn’t there, I was told that during one Friday concert in July it rained so hard that just the rain pounding the canvas roof of the tent measured 86 decibels. That’s louder than the string section, for sure. A cellphone video of water pouring off the roof of Harris Hall that evening looked positively biblical.
And we may be in for more of the same this weekend as the monsoon moisture increases in earnest, bringing us tropical water from the Gulf of California.
The National Weather Service forecast shows a front moving in, raising the chances of widespread T-storms for the next few days to around 80% each afternoon. Incredibly, we have already weighed in with close to an inch of rain so far this month and are just a few thimbles shy of hitting the 9 inches that we should have on average at this time of year. This after a July that saw us get just over 150% of that month’s traditional precipitation.
I say let it rain. And I’m pretty sure you agree. Not only does the regular rain keep the surrounding hillsides lush and green, but it has also reduced the chances of a major wildfire significantly. We began this summer with the natural concerns that this was going to be a continuation of the dry summer pattern we have seen in recent years, with fires ranging from Glenwood Canyon right into Basalt. But thus far we have been spared a big blaze. In fact, the bigger concern seems to be the possibility of flooding in the burn scars of fires past. I know, if it ain’t one thing it’s another, but I’ll take just about anything over a brush fire. Just sayin’.
If you are new here, this talk about the local weather may seem a bit self-absorbed. After all, the rest of the nation, even the rest of the world, is fighting the effects of climate change, and temperatures have been soaring to record highs on an almost daily basis. I get it. But to those of us who live in the Roaring Fork Valley, our weather is important to us. And when we get good moisture, be it winter snow or summer rain, it is something to celebrate.
Good on us.
For the last 35 years I’ve been covering what we call the “salmon wars” in the Pacific Northwest, writing so many stories about salmon heading toward extinction that I’ve lost count.
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