Friday, January 22, 2010

All clear

Please sound the imaginary "all clear" sirens. It's over--at least for this round of flooding.  Thge hydrological forecasts were all wrong, some more wrong than others.  The forecasts for the Upper Verde were just about as wrong as they could possibly be.  All the professionals were wrong and I was, too.

None of the streamflow monitoring points in the Upper Verde came anywhere close to their forecasts. I'd suspect there is no damage in that vicinity and nothing was even put at risk.  The people who were evacuated have to be wondering "What happened here?"  Well, trust me, the forecasts were logical and prudent at the time.  If anything, they could have been understated for what everyone thought was certain to happen.  Anyone who has ever seen it rain on snow knows what happens in that case.  Well, it rained on snow--heavily and for a long time and yesterday turned years of conventional wisdom on its head. 

How could that happen?  Simple.  The snowpack was apparently deep enough and big enough to simply absorb the rainfall like one giant white sponge.  There's really no other possible explanation.
Let's take Baker Butte, for example, since that's the one we watch.  The snow depth there is now 67 inches.  Meanwhile, the "snow water equivalent" grew 5.8 inches yesterday alone.  It did NOT shrink--it increased.  If the snow water would have been falling off the edge of a cliff (The Rim), the readings would be less, not more.  The number don't lie.  The same situation is true at the Happy Jack SNOTEL.  I thought that the low snow would flash melt and cause abnormally high streamflows.  Nope, it didn't happen.  This is a VERY good thing and I am VERY happy to be wrong.  Joyous, for that matter.  It's a great way to start the day  TGIF!

Well, I am sure I will be able to recap whatever else happened around the state later--much later.  In the meantime, it's back to the future and I need to get boatloads of stuff done today.  No more procrastination wiggle room. 

Have a great day and thanks for reading.  Cheers, jp

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