January might have been one of the colder ones on record, but February proved to be the wildest. What started as a hopefully warming month, February quickly turned into a winter for the record books. Starting with a big rainstorm in the mountains that dropped 4 inches of rain in the mountains just to our north. The usually dry and barren wash behind our house was rapidly turning into a full-fledged river. Then to close out the month, Mother Nature decided we needed to be reminded of what we left behind in the mid-west by dumping a couple inches of snow on us. Yes, you read that correctly, it is not a typo. SNOW IN TUCSON!
Our backyard is adjacent to a wash that flows water down from the Catalina and Rincon Mountains. Its normal state is a dry, sandy riverbed where mesquite trees, creosote bushes and grasses grow. Well it seems that is not always the state of the wash.
This past month we had a very heavy rain in the mountains and foothills, but not so much here in the “valley”. Almost 4 inches of rain were reported up in the mountains. It had to go somewhere, so down it came. Our mountains are scarred up and down with distinct lines of shimmering rocks where water runs. They create a feeder system into the washes, our wash.
Our wash is probably at least 50 yards wide, if not 75. Early in the morning after the rainstorm, we heard a noise, a rumbling outside behind the house. A short walk and there was the source of the noise. Water running fast, fast enough to sweep you off your feet, at least 3 feet deep running the entire width of the wash!
It was truly amazing to see, hear and experience. The water ran deep and fast for almost a week. It brought with it lots of debris; tree limbs, old shrubs, and weeds. One of the more fascinating aspects was the movement of the sand. As the water receded and the bed of the wash was exposed it was almost unrecognizable. The volume of water and force of the flow completely rearranged all the sand in the wash.
Here in Tucson we have roads that also serve as a flow for washes. Our wash flows across a road and when it flows it literally runs across the road along with plenty of sand. From what we saw, it appears not all the drivers thought the water was very deep.
As if that was not enough, just a week later, the rain came back, only this time it was colder. Water falling from the sky, cold weather, in any other part of the country, that would be snow, right? But here in the desert southwest, it is just rain. Or so we thought.
Wow. Not sure I need to add a lot here. It snowed! 🙁 All day! Started about 7:30 in the morning and continued till about 3:00 in the afternoon. Big wet snowflakes. It just kept falling!
That day was also National Margarita Day. We had plans to go out with our neighbors for drinks and appetizers. With all the snow, we said “no way we are going out on these roads with Tucson drivers who think snow is fun!”. Yet, by 4:00 the snow was almost all melted, and the roads were clear, so out we went.
The next morning, even we had to admit that the snow-covered mountains were stunning. Of course, it is easier to say that, when you are looking at snow from a distance.
All in all, it has been one of the coldest and wettest winters on record here in Tucson and needless to say, we are ready for some deep blue skies and warm sunshine.