Rain Wanted

water -- but for how long?
water -- but for how long? | Source

According to the Huffington Post, drought in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma is responsible for a new initiative involving religions, faith, prayer, and a concerted divine petition for rain. It has been over three years in the making. Those who live in Albuquerque well know that year after year, of late, there has been almost no rain to speak of. It might not seem as though lack of precipitation would affect a city, but there is an awareness, even if no cilantro and chile to farm, that it is not right to live without any rain whatsoever. For one thing, it is not healthy. The air gets stale, whereas after a rain, its cleansing enables a resuscitation of sorts. Wind storms do not do the trick. The vegetable world is all about cycles, especially the one that has to do with rain.

A cursory glance at the first of a few million websites informs us that La Niña, not El Niño, might be to blame. The Pacific Ocean's warm water currents can always be depended upon to summon forth at will a meteorological explanation. Unapplied science is, however, in this case, a let down, unless one looks at the bright side. There is still no rain, but one can develop a more up-to-date vocabulary to include "flash drought," which refers to short-term intervals of dryness, currently afflicting a great many states across the continent. Or "monsoon season," an irrelevancy nowadays. Yet another web-site invites comparisons to the Dustbowl of the 1930s, the Dry of the 1950s, the Northeast-centered US drought of the early sixties, and another, northern drought that fueled a 1988 fire in Yellowstone National Park. To watch these events unfold on television is a different matter. Viewers stay tuned while motorists in New Mexico pass numerous signs indicating the names of rivers which are not there. One has to think fast and squint to detect a river bed.

In metropolitan Albuquerque, there are arroyos everywhere. If nothing else, this town is prepared for flash floods. It has a very elaborate system of gullies, paved and unpaved. It is ready and willing but unable, due to drought. Another summer is on the horizon. Will there be fires again like last year and the year before? Another topic is drinking water. Ask around and talk will revolve around the Colorado River, ground water, and an aquifer down below that is alternately described as enormous or shrinking rapidly, depending upon who is talking. One gets the impression that water, in these parts, is mostly a political question. In other words, straight answers are not going to happen. The west is like that, with flurries of questions fetching no response. But they deserve to know what is going on, and if it is not raining, then is snowfall in Colorado New Mexico's lifeline?

It is amazing how unfair and unequal the natural distribution of water is. The Southwest, site of the Sundance Sea, two hundred million years ago, is mostly dry wasteland. At least that is the appearance to the untrained eye from the dubious vantage point of a speeding vehicle along an Interstate. One can travel across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona from, say, Oklahoma, and not see anything at all that resembles the expressive and abundant bodies of water that blend into the natural landscapes of the east and mid-sections of the interior. As the drought continues, photos of farmers, looking grim and downbeat, appear on occasion in regional newspapers that hardly anyone reads. States that border one another are now embroiled in litigation as they fight for every available drop. It is a bad scene to which many can testify. And yet, it could change overnight or as early as tomorrow.


A "how things work" video.

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