Shrouded in mystery

cloudy mountain web 2 When I looked out my back door this morning, I knew I could waste no time in driving out to Idaho Rd and Lost Dutchman. This intersection offers one of the best unimpeded views of the Superstition Mountain.

Monsoon begins late June, early July and lasts until late September. The worst of it, or best depending on your point of view, is August when floodwaters wash away roads and people’s yards.

Typically, Monsoon begins with sporadic sessions of heavy rainfall. it has rained every day this past week, and yet we only saw rain in our neighborhood last night. Friends five minutes away saw a deluge.

cloudy mountain 1 webOur rains generally don’t last very long, but even a half inch of rain causes major problems in the Valley. We are in a desert, the Sonoran Desert. But unlike the Sahara with inches of pure white sand, our ground is a think layer of dirt and stone over top a layer of caliche. Calich is a natural cement, not porous, and the layers can be several feet thick. Rain cannot soak into the ground, but rathers runs along the surface seeking the lowest elevations.

Washes are formed, as the running water cuts paths in the looser dirt. In minutes after a downpour, a dry wash becomes a torrential river, pushing the motor vehicles of unsuspecting drivers down stream, sometimes for hundreds of yards.  That is why we have a “Stupid Motorist Law” – and yes, that is really the name of the law.  The washes that are susceptible to flooding are posted with warnings – and if you attempt to cross the flooded wash, even if that wash is part of the road, you are held liable for any and all rescue costs and must reimburse public employees that risk their lives to save your neck.

Anyway, this weeks rains haven’t caused any devastation locally. A micro-burst did blow the roof off of a house and down the road about 100 yards, in San Tan Valley – about 20 miles away. Our cactus and agave are getting a much needed watering. And all the dust is washed off my truck.


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