09 June 2011

My Dams Runneth Over

After a record May rainfall230% above average for May in the time I've been keeping records – we were really happy to see water in our dams after years of seeing nothing but sun-baked mud. The song of Frogs returned to lull us to sleep.

Even though its hopelessly too late in the season, I optimistically sowed some of the veggie beds with Carrots, Swiss Chard, Garlic, some Barley,... Funny how a little water affects one's emotions.

House dam. Overflow foreground right.

Whenever the district council get around to sending a grader to maintain our little road, we know that rain is on its way. It's the surest rain dance we know, and infinitely more reliable a predictor than the weather forecast experts. On Monday the road got graded. On Tuesday evening it started to rain at about 6p.m. And didn't stop a steady, solid downpour, until 6 the next morning. 74mm  overnight! Both our dams are overflowing gently – a thing we've not seen in perhaps 5 years, and the rainfall already exceeds the average for June (though not the mean) despite being less than one third of the way through the month.

Bottom dam (and Keira, a bit mystified by all this water.)

The first question everybody asks is, "So does this mean the drought is broken, then?" And the answer is a predictable, "Maybe."

The rain we've experience over the past month is still way off normal. The point is not "drought or not drought". The point is not "too little water vs. plenty of water vs. too much water".

The point is "abnormal weather patterns" – unpredictability. The most reliable prediction climate scientists can make is that, as we humans stress the climate further, we can expect to experience a greater number of extreme weather events, more extreme weather of greater severity. I think that our own experiences seems to bear this out. Even though the recent rain does not really count as a "severe" weather event it is certainly poking its head well up above the "norms"1.

Even as I write the rain is falling so hard that we can barely hear ourselves shout, as it beats down on our metal roof... and we're very happy to have the water visiting again.

[1] Whatever "norm" means in relation to weather. The very notion of climate is, itself, no more than a mathematical fiction.


  1. I'm really glad your getting some real rainfall. The weather here's been unbelievably dry for most of a year now, but we're finally starting to get some rain too. Not enough rain, but it's a lot better than nothing.

    Indeed, unpredictability is the key here! It's like it's not so much of a drought year, as it is a symptom of messed up global climate.

  2. Whew.. glad you made it over here, Patrick -- after all my meanderings up false alleyways and midleading URLs ;-)


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