Monday, September 01, 2008

Slammed by the monsoon

Monsoon season in southern Arizona is wrapping up, but you couldn't tell that from the rains this Labor Day weekend.

Phoenix is reeling from massive rains and winds in recent days.

Here, where we live in the Tucson Mountains, west of the city, we had probably the biggest back to back storms since we moved here in February 2006. Nothing compared to Hurricane Gustav, but pretty impressive for this desert.

Saturday evening we got 1.3 inches in less than an hour. The dry wash behind the house was running white water with sheet flow pouring over bedrock on the hillside behind us. For a while we watched small waterfalls and cascades. The wind was strong enough to force the outflow from the downspouts to turn horizontal as the water poured off the roof.

Sunday night was not as windy but storm cell after storm cell dumped their loads on us, reaching 1.8 inches for the evening. This morning, we found one of our saguaros uprooted and its arms ripped off (photo). It was probably the winds, saturated ground, steep slope, and a saguaro that was heavy from sucking up so much groundwater. I guess it was at least 100 years old. Next to the sheared off base, is the next generation - a small saguaro, under a foot tall, but hopefully firmly rooted.

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