Rivers: Gaining and Losing

Blogger Note: I am without reliable Internet due to being on the road. Posting will be every-other-day, and I cannot release comments from moderation. I’m not closing comments, so please don’t get out of hand. Thanks.

Hydrology people talk about gaining and losing streams. This doesn’t mean what it sounds likeā€”as usual.

The short version is that a stream gains if it collects water as it crosses the landscape. A stream is a losing stream if it emerges smaller than when it entered the area. Some, like the Humbolt River, never return from the desert. Continue reading


Anec-data, But…

I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather in Central and Eastern Europe for a few months now, comparing it with the averages and trying to make some plans. You probably have not heard, at least if you are in the US, but they have been having flooding the past few weeks due to cool temps and heavy rains. Two to four inches in 24 hours will do that. The pattern got me thinking about “When was the last time I’ve experienced truly hot weather in northern Europe?” 2005. 1994 was not fun, but 2005 was the last time.

It’s anecdata, but… Continue reading

Geepers Peepers!

As I was leaving work the other day, I heard a new sound. No, I realized, not new, just not heard in several years. Sort of a chorus, rhythmic and moderately high pitched, that varied a little with the wind. It seemed to be coming from the playa. It was not red-wing blackbirds. The meadowlarks don’t sing in chorus. I started grinning and just listened.

Spring peepers, or the local version, had returned. Enough water now filled the playa that they’d hatched and matured.

The brown on the horizon is an upland pasture that needs to be grazed down, mown, or to have a controlled burn. But the local grasses are thriving, as are the water plants in the heart of the playa.

Below is a photo from this time last year, when we really, really needed rain.

Continue reading

When the Gates to the Gulf Open . . .

all h-ll tends to break out. Because storms need fuel, instability, and spin. And Gulf moisture is the magic ingredient that, when combined with an unstable air mass, produces hen-egg hail and tornadoes.

[This is a repeat, in part because I’m very tired, still under the weather, and day-job has drained me. Ah, teenagers in spring. And faculty in spring. Carry on]

I seem to have spent my live alternating between living east and west of the 100th meridian, or roughly the 20″ rainfall line. West of this line the average precipitation is less than 20 inches per year and farming without irrigation can be rather chancy. The mixed-grass prairie shifts into short-grass steppe until the plains bump into the Rocky Mountain foreland. To the east of this invisible division is the Mississippi Embayment, tall-grass prairies, the land of tall corn and fat pigs, and humidity.

Even west of that magical line, however, when the Gulf opens up, we brace for impact.

From: whyfiles.org

From: whyfiles.org AKA “Must be May”

Continue reading

Triple Points and Weather

When I was growing up in Nebraska, severe weather came with a cold front swept in from Canada or other parts north. The cold air lifted the warm, humid air and excitement ensued. Keep in mind, weather radar was just starting to come into use, and a lot of atmospheric science had yet to be discovered. I never heard of a “triple point.”

Then I moved to Texas. Continue reading

Fire’s Double Edged Sword

One of the things I really looked at closely on my recent drives around the Panhandle has been the state of the grass. As you may remember, last summer was far too interesting in terms of grass fires, and over the past winter a few other memorable ones popped up, including two inside the city limits. At least one small town did a series of controlled burns and brush clearing in order to quarter their community, so that a fire in one area would have a much harder time jumping into another.

However, fire is not a problem at the moment. The opposite. As I drove I could see little smoke plumes here and there as people burned their brush-piles and garbage, cleaning up where they’d trimmed or uprooted mesquite and other unwanted brush. Controlled burns have been arranged recently, with due proper notice given so that concerned people don’t call the fire departments. And the land is lush. Continue reading