Some time has passed since our last blog posting. It has been an incredibly busy season that prevented consistent blog posting over the summer. A reflection on the growing season will be forthcoming, but this snowstorm was inspirational in the creation of a blog post that will hopefully become the restart of more consistent postings.
This snowstorm was somewhat anticipated by weather experts, though the timing of its onset and its intensity were greatly underestimated. A foot of snow created the conditions to cancel school and delay many other businesses. I personally spent almost 6 hours shoveling out the vehicles, walkways, and around the walls of my adobe house and garage.
As mentioned in other posts, the ‘water year’ for the desert southwest begins on October 1. This water year provides a measure of the total snowpack accummulated in the upper watershed and gives some indication of what stream and river flows will look like from snowmelt and runoff in the Spring. This storm brings our precipitation for the current water year to well over 2.5 inches. On average, ten inches of snow will equal 1 inch of precipitation. We hope to capture a value for this snowstorm with our weather station, but at the time of this writing the temperature has not really risen above freezing so the amount of precipitation has not yet been counted by our rain collector. It is possible that some of the snow will be lost to evaporation by wind or sun before it gets counted.
A snowstorm of this magnitude this early in the season offers promise for a good snowpack and sufficient snowmelt for our irrigation season next spring and summer. Hopefully the temperatures remain such that the snow can keep accumulating in the upper watershed. With the predictions of an exceptional ‘El Niño’ weather event this winter, we are hopeful that the snows will continue throughout the winter and help in our coming irrigation season and potential drought condition.
Sudden and intense snow events are also cause for concern when it comes to fruit trees. This year some trees were so loaded with fruit that branches were in danger of breaking. We received reports that some trees broke under the stress of full crops of peaches and apples. We will be interested to see if some of those tree limbs could be reconnected with screws or other means to ‘re-graft’ those broken limbs back into place. This rapid and heavy snow had a similar effect on our fruit trees, with many limbs bending under the weight of trapped snow in their canopies. Unfortunately, our old apricot tree pictured below succumbed to the weight and we lost a substantial limb that supported a considerable amount of architecture on that side of the tree. This limb cannot likely be repaired and we hope the tree as a whole does not suffer and perhaps we can encourage new growth into the area that the limb once resided.