Monday, August 13, 2012

Rains Still Can't Drive Away the Drought

We continue to have periodic rain storms, but they have done nothing to alleviate the drought.  A drought is not considered to be over until the rain water percolates through the soil and regains contact with the ground water aquifer.  The quantity of water delivered with each storm has been far less than that needed to saturate the entire soil profile.  What has developed is a shallow layer of moist soil overlaying dry.  Each storm on the horizon brings the promise of a long, soaking rain.

There has been enough rain to revive many of the plants.  Although this makes things look more pleasant, the plants may suffer from this action.  Blue Jay Barrens offers a dry environment for plant growth.  The soil typically dries out in early August and stays that way until November.  Perennial plants push new roots deep into the soil to take advantage of moisture found there.  In situations where there is no detectable deep level moisture, some plants will confine new root development to the moist zone near the surface.  Since plant roots are continually dieing and being replaced by new growth, much of this year’s deep root mass will not be available later on.  If harsh conditions return next year, these plants may suffer greatly when the surface area turns dry and there are not enough deep roots left to support growth.

I keep thinking that the next storm will be the one to put us back into a more normal pattern.  I’ve been constantly proven wrong.  We get the rain, but it’s usually in the amount of about half an inch.  We also get lightning, hail and wind.  Each storm takes down a few trees and drops debris everywhere.  We were lucky not to lose our electricity with this storm.  When I went out to assess damage, I could hear generators running on the ridge west of us, so I assumed their electric lines were down.  That night I could see no security lights and the early morning air carried the sound of chain saws working on the ridge.  I guess they got the brunt of it this time.

It has to have been a rough year for tree nesters.  So far this year I’ve found 11 downed bird nests with broken eggs and a half dozen fallen squirrel nests.  With the way the trees have been whipped around, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some nests were flung into the next county.

The violence is short lived and daytime storms end with a farewell rainbow.  I’ve seen more rainbows this year than I’ve seen over the past 10 years and there’s plenty of time left for more storms.  The wild weather makes it difficult to assign a cause to some of the atypical growth patterns showing up at Blue Jay Barrens this year.  It could be flood or drought or heat or any combination of weather events.  I guess I’ll just have to watch things unfold and learn what I can along the way.


  1. I guess there's no telling what devastating effects the prolonged drought is having on plant and animal life across much of the country.

  2. We've been experiencing rain here and there, but without complete saturation of the soil, also. Perhaps next year will be a better year for studying growth patterns in the organisms. I noticed this year that there were a lot more devastating insect pests in the area (namely, the striped cucumber beetle)destroying my crops. Hopefully there will be fewer next year.

  3. Hi Pat. We'll just have to wait and see how things turn out.

    Hi Tiffany. I've also noticed an increase in certain insects, but there are others that are almost absent this year. I hope next year is more along the lines of what we consider to be normal.