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Sky drama

The seasons are changing here in Tucson. We’re getting blustery, wild weather. Yesterday high winds kicked up dust all over town and today thunderstorms kept rolling through.

In other parts of the country these weather events might not seem so dramatic, but here the sky is usually blue and clear. The dust turned it to brown pudding, the storms beat the sky until it was black and blue. It’s a break from the ordinary, and fun to watch because it’s wild but not as forbidding as other parts of the country. Tucson doesn’t get hurricanes, tornadoes are a rarity, floods fill the washes as they are supposed to, and everything usually clears up pretty quickly.

Tucson sky drama.jpg

That’s not to say that the weather can’t be dangerous. The dust storms can completely obscure your vision, and driving down I-10 can be risky if one blows across. This evening we had a pretty good lightning show, too. But the rain that fell amounted to a paltry desert portion, enough to wet the ground a bit and then evaporate almost as quickly.

The saguaros and other desert plants will suck up what they can, expand a bit in their pleats like a person after a big meal, and be set for another long spell until the next few precious drops come by. We’ll be looking for desert blooms. We’re expecting a few more days of this weather and then I suppose the heat will return and Tucson’s warm spring will have sprung.

One peculiar effect of the rain here is that it actually can make cars (and shiny Airstreams) dirtier. The rain carries dust from the air down and leaves streaks on everything. I left my bicycle out in the rain a few weeks ago and had to wipe it down with a clean towel to get all the dust streaks off afterward. Dust is a part of the desert life, a symbol of dryness, but paradoxically it turns out also to be the reminder of rains gone by.

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