Winter weather worthy of celebration for most

Mother Nature, the iconic parent of everything weather - drought, rain, sleet, and snow - blessed most of the nation with heavenly liquid and frozen manna during the just-ended 2010-2011 winter season.

Record-setting rainfall helped fill reservoirs in the West with snow melt certain to enhance the levels. In the cold and snowy Midwest and Northeast, snow plows created snow walls with no other choice but to plow the record amounts of snow into higher and higher piles.

California was blessed with much-needed rains in the lower elevations and multi-foot snows per snowfall in the Sierra Nevadas, which according to Governor Jerry Brown clinched the end of the state’s three-year-old drought. The moisture has reservoir managers and ski resort operators grinning from ear to ear.

For now, California agriculture has a short-term reprieve from immediate pressing water worries yet farmers realize the moisture is a one-year gift. Long-term water storage solutions are just as imperative now as in decades past.

Southern Arizona, where I am based, missed the boat on the winter soakings. Only three-quarters of an inch of rain has fallen in central Arizona since the first of the year. The odds of new marching orders for Noah to head to this desert region are slim indeed. All Arizona weather stations report below normal precipitation for the year to date.

Each region of the U.S. has exciting weather events. Growing up on a central Mississippi farm included sizzling hot and humid summer days intertwined with intense afternoon “thunderdunders.” Loud claps of thunder literally shook the foundation of the house. Winter days included planting Christmas trees while slowly-falling rain created long icicles dangling from the jaw.

After college, a quarter century of living in the Midwest included teaching my daughter with wet ink still on the driver’s permit about the reality of driving on “black ice.” One coveted winter morning with her at the steering column the car spun in a circle seven times in the middle of a busy intersection. A lesson learned for her. Many gray hairs earned for me.

A one-week winter adventure across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula included visits to radio stations with encouragement to begin broadcasting Michigan agricultural radio programs with the reel-to-reel audio tapes in my hand.

I’ll never forget stopping by a co-worker’s home only to find a five-foot high tunnel in the snow bank was the only way to reach the front door. The snow towered halfway up the second story of the house. Family members and friends received an incredible photo in their Christmas card.

Rain is rare in central Arizona where the annual rainfall averages seven inches a year. 2011 is the 14thor 15thconsecutive year of drought for this “desert rat” who truly misses the weather extremes of yesteryear. I am happy for the wet dirt in neighboring California and elsewhere but am a bit jealous.

Today is April 1 and it’s 102 degrees outside. That’s no April Fool’s joke. But, as they say, it’s a “dry heat”! 

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