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February 2009
Desert Winter Wonderland

The prediction for rain was only about 60% for Casa Grande on February 8, 2009, but that takes in a fairly large area. It is not uncommon in SW deserts during the two rainy seasons for a deluge to occur in some spots and nothing more than a few spits in other places - if even that. Additionally, the forecast was for the airport, which is about 5 miles away as the crow flies.

At about 2:40pm, the skies looked very promising for some rain somewhere in the immediate area. (For those noting the file names on the photos, Kitty just leaves the time on the digital camera set to Eastern Daylight Savings, which is 3 hours later than the actual AZ time in February.) We were in the kitchen when the sound of banging on our skylight was unmistakable. A quick look out the window onto the backyard - yes, it was hail. Kitty grabbed her camera and spent the next approximate 20 minutes taking photos of what is truly a rare occurrence - a very heavy hailstorm on the southern bajada of the Sacaton Mountains, NE of Casa Grande Arizona.

Hailstones out there - not white pebbles. Big white round items on dirt are eggshells.They keep coming downReally starting to collect! And the wind was forceful tooThe rapid progression of this storm is easily seen - from a light sprinkling of hail in the first shot at left to a heavy downing, just 4 minutes later.

The flowering aloe vera look so strange surrounded by the still falling white hail Clouds obscure the mountains in the distanceOur desert plantings surrounded by hail covered ground, including young Australian bottle treeSoutheast view from living room front windowOut in the front the hail was still falling in the first photo, but had mostly stopped falling by the last - only about 10 minutes after the first hailstones.
The view from our study window on the west side of houseAnd the west side too is covered, as seen from our study window

Lots of water resulted from 10 mins worth of hailHail melted quickly on the patioOnce the hail stopped, Paul got out and cleared the large amount of melted water that had quickly collected on our back patterned block patio, which unfortunately is not level.

The wash is running!This last photo taken from our back porch is a view of the wash (dry stream bed) that runs through our property. It can be seen that the "wash is running" - the term in the SW for those rare occurrences when water actually flows in them. (The wash usually runs at least once during each brief winter rain and again in the longer summer rainy season.)

The wash is dry once moreA look at the wash at the same point as above, and as it usually looks during the "winter" - dry. The acacia on the left is nearly leafless as is the palo verde on the right. The aloe vera are in fresh bloom though, and heavily visited by hummingbirds and bees. Paul is just there for size perspective ;>)

To get an idea of how relatively easily the Arizona desert responds to moisture, look at these photos of part of our property which has not had any rainfall since that hailstorm on February 8. These were taken on Saturday February 28th. The greenery showing that looks like a sparse lawn, will mostly all be tiny white flowers in less than 2 weeks. They and the little yellow flowers on other of the greens (some might call "weeds") will all go to seed a few weeks later to wait until another plentiful winter rainy season.

Shadows from the lowering sun can't obscure the numerous small green plants after the good winter rainsSlightly different angle to see more of the green The same wash as above can be seen by the perceptive viewer cutting into the mostly flat ground diagonally behind Paul, across the view. (Work that Paul and David "Jack" Jackemeyer did on the larger culvert for this wash back in February 2005 (wow that long ago!) can be seen here.)


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Initially posted 3/6/2009
Page last updated 3/6/2009
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