With a bit over three inches of rain this weekend, Oklahoma City has now recorded more than 18 inches of rain this month, easily the wettest month since records began in the 1890s, and wetter than at least one entire year: 1901, in which a meager 15.74 inches fell. This looks even more monstrous when you consider that there's almost a full week left in the month, and a chance of precipitation on every single day in that week.

There was a time when this sort of thing wouldn't bother me, and that time, apparently, was back in the 1960s, in the quasi-swamp that is Charleston, South Carolina. There was one month, a July, in which we got something like twenty-three inches of rain, and the streets of our little district, miles outside the city limits, were literally running with water. I'm not saying I learned to surf in those days, but there were boards — usually torn off decrepit buildings — and there were opportunities to sail down the street. (And there were tetanus shots, but that's another matter entirely.)

I think the last time I could afford to be complacent about this sort of thing was in October 1983, a month which held the Rainiest Ever title for almost six years. I remember being caught in a serious downpour while driving back from someplace out east. A two-lane road, no shoulder to speak of, and God knows what might be coming the other way. Finally I decided to floor it, on the dubious basis that this situation was dangerous, and therefore I should reduce my exposure time to it. It helped considerably that (1) this was a rural area and ongoing traffic was next to nil and (2) the road itself was almost perfectly straight until a Y-junction near the county line. By the time I reached that line, it was almost possible to see again.

Still, that was half a lifetime ago. One Saturday this month I cut short a grocery run, a mere 4.5-mile round trip, for lack of visibility beyond about nine inches in front of me. Evidently the Press On Regardless attitude of my earlier years is in serious decline. The fact that the waters are now closer to me than before surely plays a part: this past weekend, water was coming through the doors at Penn Square Mall, a mile or so to my east. I took brief comfort in the knowledge that my front door is several feet above street level, and the wind wasn't blowing in a direction favorable for leakage through the back door into the garage. (A little bit damp, yes, but I've seen far worse with far less rain.)

With every transaction, there are winners and losers. The clearest winner here is Canton Lake, from which Oklahoma City drew all but a few gallons of water two winters ago during a period of unrelenting drought. Came that May, and the city was drenched, but Canton remained dry. This time through, though, Canton has been refilling: the conservation pool, once down to around 10 percent of capacity, is now around 40.

Biggest losers, perhaps, were the folks who live within half a mile or so of the Wichita River in the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, ordered to prepare for evacuation as the river headed for unprecedented heights. Sunday afternoon, the expected inundation hadn't occurred — most of the rain had moved eastward, flooding the Red River and northeast Texas, and the city lifted the evacuation order.

Meanwhile at 42nd and Treadmill, which hadn't flooded out since 2013, there have been instances of leakage pretty much the entire month. I haven't gone back to work yet, but I suspect it's not going to be a pretty sight. Fortunately, the Monday crew will have to take care of it before I return — assuming there isn't any more rain, which is a lot to assume. Downstream, things are worse: the Little River, where it passes by Tecumseh near US 177, has been more or less continuously in flood for a week now, and isn't expected to fall below flood stage any time soon. (Current river statistics are kept here.)

And while I'm relatively unscathed and even slightly enriched by this weather — any day I don't have to run the air conditioner is an extra couple of bucks in my pocket — I'm starting to suffer the effects of prolonged lack of sunshine, something I expect in winter but am not at all used to just before the beginning of June. Were I paranoid, this sort of thing would make me more so. Then again:

Oklahoma: The people are nice and the sky wants to kill you

It's not really paranoia if they're actually trying to get you, right?

The Vent

#918
  25 May 2015

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