Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rain - "The blessed, bountiful, horrible rains"

Sallie Tisdale, lovely regional author, writes in Sunday's Oregonian about rain. She says she has "become a connoisseur" of rain, and yet
Then there is the rain that drives me mad, the cold and steady rain that falls for days from dark, lowering skies. A gutter slips from its catches, water cascades off the roof, drips down the basement walls, washes away the soil. Suddenly murderous, I break an appointment and refuse to answer the phone. The house feels as damp as the wet street outside my wet window, my wet shoes and my wet coat and my wet heart.
And many of our students - especially those who come from Hawaii, find winters on OSU's campus depressing. For them as for Tisdale,
So, we have gray skies [here in Oregon] -- so does Paris. Why does it feel like so much more than it is? Because there is a certain incessant quality. Because it can and does sometimes rain for weeks. (Our record is 34 days straight.) Because I prefer the sun. Because that one inch of rain on our rainiest days -- that one is falling on me. I am ashamed, cursing at this tender weather, so much easier than many people manage all year round. Imagine the wettest spot on Earth: the lovely Mount Wai'ale'ale in Kauai, Hawaii, where it rains about 460 inches a year.

And here's an interesting fact that Tisdale points out:

The Northwest has several of the world's steepest rain grades, where the amount of moisture drops dramatically in a short distance. In the Olympic Range, precipitation can range from 200 inches in the center of the mountains to about 15 inches on the eastern side. In the 20 miles between Sisters and the Santiam Pass, annual precipitation drops more than 60 inches.

These geographic differences - "orthographic enhancements" - are what contribute to the especially heavy snows we lived through those winters at the rim of Crater Lake when we had our cross country ski business and the weather forecast for snow "locally heavy at times" usually brought us 2-3 feet more than elsewhere. A kind of lake effect perhaps.

Anyway, says Tisdale,

I am mostly used to[the Oregon climate] now. I love the spring and summer and fall. I love the green. And the rains have become the walls of the cave where I spend the cold months. In here there is a fire and family and light.



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