Southern Arizona receives most of its precipitation during two distinct times of the year: the summer monsoon and the late winter. Those two distinct periods are separated by other seasons of extreme dryness. If it weren't for the dry seasons, this place would probably look like northeastern Texas with mountains.
Some significant Pacific storms have hit the California coastline this year and deluged it. They've been disruptive but they are a regular part of life during the more normal wet winters that the region experiences. Strong Pacific storms tend to make their way inland and cross the Southwest, where they provide water to these arid and semi-arid regions. Unlike monsoon storms, the widespread rainfall is not sporadic or localized. It blankets an entire region and falls steadily for hours before tapering off. When the storms originate from Hawaii, they result in wet but temperate days and nights. The common Alaskan storms, on the other hand, bring a blast of icy, frigid air following the rain. I don't look forward to them. I hate being wet and I hate being cold. It's the worst of both worlds. I know, however, that the rain will pass and the sky will clear. That's another regular part of life here. I'm just grateful that the cold never seems to take hold and lock me in an icy grip for three continuous months the way it does in the vast majority of places in this country. That's the one saving grace. It always seems to warm up after a few days.
Such a Pacific storm passed through this area yesterday. I decided to perform an experiment that I always wanted to undertake. It was primitive but interesting and successful. I mounted my digital camera on a tripod, set it in the kitchen, and aimed it out the window. Then I ran a DOS program on my laptop PC that sent commands to the camera through the serial port and instructed it to take a picture. I wrote a batch file to cause this to happen in an endless loop once every 18 seconds. Then I walked down the steps and out into the desert for my daily walk.
The camera took pictures all day long until I returned shortly before dusk. I shut off the camera, which had used up all the memory anyway, and downloaded the 863 pictures into my home PC. Then I combined them into this rather interesting time-lapse video:
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(Click on the picture - which I have "LJ-cut" - to download the 3.28 MB video. I think it looks even more impressive in full-screen mode. If you like it, please feel free to save it.)
In my very last entry before this one, I wrote that "human beings are limited in their ability to study very quick or very slow phenomena." This simple fact appears even in the weather. To our human perception, the clouds seem fixed in one place in the sky. If we're patient, we might see them moving ever so slowly. However, the earth is actually a violent, active, radically changing environment. The serenity is an illusion.