Friday, July 18, 2014

Range of Lightning

A double-handful of wildland fires have been ignited by several days of monsoonal storm cells over our part of the Sierra. All of the starts are in remote areas and will be allowed to proceed as nature intends for now.

The mid-summer moisture has been locally intense: Tioga Road was closed for a time on Tuesday so that runoff debris could be removed, while a few miles away, no rain fell at all. The volume in the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers has jumped from the localized downpours. The gauge at Pohono Bridge in Yosemite Valley went from 15% of average flow to about 70% of average.

It was quite a surprise to find that Yosemite Falls had returned from the dead yesterday morning. Transient petrichor changes the feeling of our forests from that of dusty late August, to that of another mountain range altogether. This precipitation temporarily alleviates a sense of drought, but our mountains are still quite dry (and flammable).

Flowers look great at 7-9000' now: Senecio, lupine, Aster, Pentstemon, Epilobium, Delphinium and more are adding color to the quiet aridity.

There have been a few instances of oak branch drop in the past few weeks, wherein a healthy-seeming oak loses a large live branch suddenly. Watch the skies....