Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Wet To Burn

A guy died one day and found himself waiting in the long line of judgment. As he stood there he noticed that some souls were allowed to march right through the pearly gates into Heaven. Others though, were led over to Satan who threw them into the burning pit. But every so often, instead of hurling a poor soul into the fire, Satan would toss a soul off to one side into a small pile.. After watching Satan do this several times, the guy's curiosity got the best of him. So he strolled over and asked Satan what he was doing. "Excuse me, Mr. Prince of Darkness," he said. "I'm waiting in line for judgment, but I couldn't help wondering, why are you tossing those people aside instead of flinging them into the Fires of Hell with the others?" "Ah, those," Satan said with a groan. "They're all from Iowa. They're still too wet to burn."

Ain't that the truth.

Over this last year as I've been commiserating with others about our near constant rain here, I've found myself thinking that I said the same things over the last three years. It has seemed as if we have had four especially wet years in a row. Then a couple weeks ago, I found a website run by a state university that records the amount of rain falling in my part of rural Iowa on a daily basis and has records going back a long ways. They even have a way to export the data into a format that I could import into an Excel spreadsheet to clarify things. As you can see in the graph below, it really does help to see just how wet it has been here. There are three lines. The top line shows or average annual rainfall for this part of Iowa which is 36.5 inches. The middle lines shows our accumulated precipitation thus far this year. We are at slightly above 33 inches (14 inches above normal) for the year and counting. Another thing to notice on the middle line is that there are very few level spots where rain has not falling. You can see the two weeks around the middle of April where the farmers got their crops in the first time and then it has been all uphill since. The bottom lines shows where our moisture should be on a "normal" year.

So this brings me back to my claim that I've been saying the same things for four years now. I dumped the data in the spreadsheet along with the data for 1993 which was the wettest year in the history of Iowa and got the graph below. The bottom line is the same average precipitation that we are supposed to receive in a year. The next three lines above average precipitation line represent the years of 2007, 2008 and 2009. That along with the half line of 2010 show that it hasn't been my imagination. The scary thing about this is that the 2010 line is keeping up with the blistering pace set on the wettest year in the records books, 1993. In 1993, it rained well into September before the spigots turned off.

I'm beginning to think I should pull my boat building dream off the back burner and put it on the front burner. I should also up-size the pot and start thinking ark sized boats.


R. Sherman said...

1993 was bad for us, too, as you know, and I've wondered whether this year was worse. Thanks for crunching the numbers so I don't have to.


P.S. I'll send you an inner tube.

Murf said...

I hear Des Moines is a great place for writers AND I have a Pepto Bismol pink raincoat that I love and rarely get to wear. I'm going to start lookin' for jobs there now!

sage said...

Ark time,eh? We had the bad weather last night--most of the wet weather (winter and summer) has stayed south of us

Ron said...

That's a lot of rain.

"Ed's Custom Arks, Ltd. - Plenty of room for two cats, two dogs, two kids, two wives..."


Vince said...

Ha, wimps.
Ya do not know what WET is. The drier half of the island of Eire has 1000mm of rain per annum, the west -Atlantic side- has twice that.
1000mm = 40inches.
But the thing is, how as a agriculturalist can you convert a bet. For that is what any planting of a crop.
In reality there is only one crop without this risk, trees.

Beau said...

Wow... nice graphs, but that's so hard on the farming communities. I was reading about the Lake Delhi dam nearing failure... hope you're not anywhere near it.

Ed said...

R. Sherman - I haven't heard much of either the Mississippi or the Missouri flooding, perhaps because we've got other things to concern our attention or they simply aren't flooding. I hope the latter is the case.

Murf - As much as I rag on it, Des Moines is a great place. It is the biggest small town around. If you do move there, I can point out a few good sushi places for you.

Sage - Take your fill of the rain. I've had mine already many times over.

Ron - I'm not sure my wife would let me advertise that last item.

Vince - I'm always amazed at how other countries can handle obscene amounts of rain. Mostly though, they are much much closer to the ocean than we are. Even trees aren't a safe bet around here. The Dutch Elm disease wiped out an astronomical number of trees many years ago and people replanted, many the Ash tree. Now we are on the leading edge of the Emerald Ash Borer which will eventually wipe those trees off our maps. You just can't beat Mother Nature. You can only survive.

Beau - I'm actually surprised that the Lake Delhi event hasn't happened more due to the high level of our reservoirs. Fortunately, it appears that there wasn't any loss of life to that event which was in another drainage from my haunting places in the Des Moines river valley.

TC said...

Much as I feel waterlogged, I'm glad I'm not in Iowa these days.

Bone said...

Perhaps it would be a good investment to buy up all the gopher wood in the area.

I guess we've been as hot as you've been wet. My sister said she heard on the news this was our hottest summer since 1913.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ahhhh Ireland... a very green lush island, the land of half of my ancestors; throw on some water, as much as you want, and it merely flows away like water off a duck's back.

Ed, Iowa is getting all OUR rain man. We're having an El Nino year where our "rainy season" is behaving more like a "barely damp season."