Bracketed, then Buckets: Or Why People Curse at Meteorologists

I’ve never lived for an extended period in places where it rains evenly all over. I’ve visited them (and managed to cause a drought. It’s a gift) but never lived there. And the Texas Panhandle is infamous for what are generously called “spotty rain showers.” This usually means either 1) it rained there, and over there, and over that way, but not here, or 2) we got flying mud balls and a few drops of rain a few inches apart. In Tex-lish, a “two-inch rain” means that’s the dry space between drops.

So, according to my most trusted commercial weather site, the last two weeks of June were supposed to have average temperatures and above average precipitation. And I really wanted it, too, in order to see something positive about lows in the upper 60s with dewpoints not that far away. (I know, y’all on the Gulf Coast are pointing and laughing, and my readers in Arizona and southern Nevada just muttered “somebody call the whaambulance.”) I’m used to more high-desert conditions, with highs in the mid 90s, lows in the low 60s, and dewpoints in the 40s if we are lucky. Dewpoints in the teens if we are not so lucky, which means highs in the upper 90s.

In theory a 30% chance of rain means that you have a 3 in 10 chance of being under a storm if one forms. Recently, as happens so often, a 50% chance meant a very nice line of rain reaches the loop highway around Amarillo and dies. It happens so often that we call it the Amarillo Effect (or sometimes the Vega Effect, after the small town to the west where things start falling apart.) It may have something to do with the heat island of the city, or with having crossed over the Canadian River Breaks, or with the perversity of the weather. If you go back in the ranch records from various establishments around the region, you find lots of notations to the effect of “it rained here at the house but not in the pastures.” Spotty showers are nothing new.

So, between June 15-29, major weather formed to the west, north, south, and southeast of the central Panhandle, rained buckets, caused local flash flooding . . . and left the space between Canyon, Claude, Panhandle, Vegan, and the Canadian River dry. OK, we got mudballs one evening, and blowing dust from storms in New Mexico. But no rain. The really frustrating morning was when a big rain-shield made it from Kansas, drenched the eastern part of the Panhandle, surged toward the central area, turned the sky black and sent a roll cloud and shelf cloud and left .01 inches of rain.

Honey, why are the animals going by in pairs? http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/ama/events/2013/aug7_8storms/2.jpg

Honey, why are the animals going by in pairs? http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/ama/events/2013/aug7_8storms/2.jpg

This may have been part of the reason two of the three chief TV meteorologists in town took the last week of June off. It was safer to go fishing or camping than to be accosted in the grocery story with complaints about the lack of production. They were Macbeth storms – full of sound and fury yet signifying nothing.

Finally, Thursday evening, when I was going out to eat, of course, storms formed right on top of town. And bucketed. And then bucketed some more. And a second round came through, to the tune of .90″ of rain. The next morning the radar looked as if it had measles, and indeed, about the time I got as far as possible from Redquarters on my morning cardio trot, spitter spitter GUSH. And then it steamed for a few hours.

So we just need another inch, preferably not all at once, and the weather folks can come back from vacation.

Hi ossifer! Don't be that guy - if it looks shallow, it's probably not. http://ama-cdn.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/superphoto/12352683.jpg

Hi ossifer! Don’t be that guy – if it looks shallow, it’s probably not.* http://ama-cdn.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/superphoto/12352683.jpg

Just not all at once. We’ve already had roads swallowed whole.

*I’m sure the officer did not intend for the car to get washed into a ditch. Neither do all those dumb-bunnies who think, “I’m in a pick-up/SUV/fast car so I can make it. It’s not that deep” and then get plucked from their car roofs by boat or who discover that if the water is over your hood, you’re not going anywhere else with that car ever.

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4 thoughts on “Bracketed, then Buckets: Or Why People Curse at Meteorologists

  1. ” or who discover that if the water is over your hood, you’re not going anywhere else with that car ever.”

    Not strictly true, if you are smart enough to not try and start it until you first pull the spark plugs out, and THEN hit the starter to push all the water out of the cylinders. After that start it as soon as possible after you get it out of the water, (first check the oil, and take time to change it if it has water in it) run it for half an hour or so, to make sure and get it good and warm (the exhaust will pour water and steam) and boil the water out. Then change the oil (again, if you already did it before starting) change fluids in the differentials, and the tranny if it is an automatic (not a bad idea even in a standard). Then start it up and drive it. Changing oil again in a couple days is not a bad idea, either; oil is cheap, especially compared to a new motor.

    Oh, don’t ask how I know this. 🙂

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