It’s dry in them thar hills

Long Peak Cam view (click to enlarge)
Long Peak Cam view (click to enlarge)

I’ve added another Colorado webcam to those I regularly visit. This one is at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, one of two entrances on the east edge of Rocky Mountain National Park and the one I usually use. (You’ll have to click on the link and scroll down to see the camera’s entire view. With luck, they’ll have moved the cherrypicker by then.)

Aside from offering a nice view of Longs Peak, it includes an interesting bit of information in that bar at the top — the relative humidity. Those of you not familiar with Colorado mountain air might be surprised to see the humidity often comes up 0%. Zero. Zilch. Nada. One day, even with the peaks shrouded in rain, the humidity was at 2%. That is not a lush pine forest you see, folks. It’s a tinderbox ready to explode. The grass is always brown and crunches underfoot, even in “wet” years.

Yep, it’s dry here. Denver itself is considered a high desert climate. For years, when I came up here for vacations in the mountains, I brought portable humidifiers with me. Now, having lived here four years, I seem to have adapted a bit. I often don’t think to turn on the whole-house humidifier until the static electricity drives me to it. At that point the humidity indoors is usually somewhere in the low teens.

Virga east of Denver (click to enlarge)
Virga east of Denver

This is where I first learned about virga. Virga is rain that falls from the clouds but evaporates in the dry air before it hits the ground. Intensely frustrating for farmers and others needing rain. We watch big, black, juicy storm clouds roll across the sky. We hear the ripples of thunder; we smell the sweetness and feel the rising wind on our faces. We see the shafts of rain start down toward the parched earth and then … nothing. Mother Nature’s a bitch sometimes.

The up side, of course, is that we enjoy “dry cold” and “dry heat” here, which are so much nicer than their more humid cousins in other parts of the country. So I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just stating facts.

Denver has gotten a whole .1 inch of moisture so far this month (10″ snow = 1″ rain). That’s bad; March is supposed to be our snowiest month. We might not have an “official” drought this year because there’s been a lot of snow in the mountains. But it is definitely going to be dry.

... and that's my two cents