Road Blog: Chicago

Today, the road trip included zero time on the road. My sister and I did walk a few blocks up the street and back, though. And Eamon and Sakura arrived after their detour from Council Bluffs to Lamoni, Iowa, and Independence, Missouri. Their drive today brought them from Independence, Harry S Truman's hometown, through 100-degree temperatures in Missouri and severe thunderstorms near Bloomington, Illinois–family home of Adlai Stevenson, who failed to succeed Truman.

Thunderstorms passed through the Chicago area, too. It's an unusual enough occurrence for me, living in the mostly thunder-free Bay Area, that I went out into Ann and Dan's backyard and recorded some of the storm as it passed. The storm and recording were less than Wagnerian in its dramatic dimension, but was plenty atmospheric. Here's an MP3 snippet:

Chicagostorm060411

Back on the other end of this trip, the endless rainy season of 2010-11 continues in the Bay Area and Northern California. To define "endless rainy season," we refer to the National Weather Service record report from earlier today, which runs down a few locations that saw their rainiest June 4th ever. An earlier forecast discussion raised the possibility that some locations might exceed their monthly records for the entire month of June today (a surprising possibility, but not an amazing one: we don't get a lot of rain on average in June; the June record for San Francisco, recorded in 1884, is about two and a half inches. One earlier report ran down rainfall totals over the region through late Saturday morning. Noteworthy: the 2-inch-plus totals in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the 3-inch plus amounts in the Santa Lucia Range in Monterey County.

It's more than I want to get into in detail at this late hour, but: water. One impression driving across the northern Rockies and Plains is how wet and green everything looks (but no, we didn't see any honest-to-goodness flooding in Montana or South Dakota) In California, you think of water supply when you see all the rain (and in the mountains, snow) we've been getting as the wet season continues. The state's daily report on its largest reservoirs shows storage is more than 110 percent of average for this date and the biggest lakes are close to capacity. In the mountains, the snowpack is still at 97 percent of its April 1 average–April 1 being the date when the snowpack is at its maximum. We're two months past that now, and the snowpack is at 343 percent of normal for the beginning of June (in a regional breakdown, the snowpack for the Northern Sierra and far northern mountains is at 559 percent of normal for this date (see California Department of Water Resources/California Data Exchange Center: Snow Water Equivalents).

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