Saturday, January 21, 2012

RAIN, Rain, rain

North Umpqua River, Jan 21, 2011
After holding back on rain for most of the winter, Mother Nature is playing catch up this past week. Nearby friends have measured 5 inches of recent rain. Winter rains in the valleys and snow in the mountains are critical for our summer water supply; so this abundance is received with some relief. Ski resorts will finally have enough snow and reservoirs are filling. Unfortunately some parts of the state are getting too much rain at once. To the north it is a ‘100 year rain.’ Mud slides and flooding have closed some roads. A few houses are flooded. Oregon’s terrain is steep enough so that we don’t get the vast expanses of flooding that plague the Midwest, but travel can become problematic. Hard to believe that just a few hundred miles to the south of us wildfires are burning near Reno, Nevada.

We’re still way behind as far as the ‘water year.’ The official water year starts in October. By the end of December we had only about 50% of the average snow pack. What is this weather doing? When our son-in-law was in atmospheric studies over twenty years ago, I asked him what he thought about global warming. At that time he wasn’t sure if the earth was getting warmer, but he did think we were in for more extreme weather patterns. He has been so right!
We’re parked where Rock Creek flows into the North Umpqua River. Looking out the car window it is hard to imagine there is any shortage of water. The ground is soggy; every needle has a drip hanging from its end; lichens and mosses are lush. The deciduous tree trunks are wrapped in blankets of green moss and lichens. Even ferns grow out of mossy gardens on the sides of trees.
Rock Creek runs high, but the water is reasonably clean. About a hundred yard from here it flows into the North Umpqua River -- weak coffee colored. It is rare to see the river even this muddy. This part of the river comes from Umpqua National Forest land. As we head towards town the river will get significantly muddier when we reach areas that drain off private land. By the time the North Umpqua River reaches town it will be opaque coffee and cream.
We stop at Susan Creek Picnic Site on our way back downriver. Close by are a variety of lichens, far beyond my expertise. The very light ones remind me of reindeer mosses, but I’m sure they are something different. Other lichens look like leafy romaine lettuce, other are long and stringy.
I made an effort to look up the lichens I photographed today. Here are descriptive words from just one page; Gametophytically … quadrate above … lanceolate-acuminate … tristichous … crisped leaves … pleurocarpous plants .. rhombic, papillose cells .. paraphyllia. Oh my gosh! I’ve got a long way to go if I’m going to sort out the local lichens. All I learned for sure tonight is that what I thought are British soilders, really aren’t. That species grows much farther east and we’ve got something different here.

Maybe some things are just to be savored. I look forward to going back, maybe on a slightly dryer day, but when everything is still moist and full of color.


  1. Oh you got some really great photos. Isn't this rain something? I happy to see rain for the reasons you mention, but hope it stops before flooding us. Without enough rain we could end up like CA and Nevada that go up in flames because things are to dry. Thanks for sharing your photos. I cant believe I can comment on here. I have been having some problems commenting on some blogs.

  2. Wow, really great captures Elva! We've also had a LOT of rain here in South Africa, but it seems to coming to an end now. Sorry about those mud slides!

  3. Awesome photos of your weather.