Goodbye Monsoon Season

Today marks the official end of the monsoon season here in Tucson, and it’s been a remarkable one, especially in contrast to last year’s nonsoon. In 2020 we had one of the worst droughts on record—1.6 inches of rain for the entire season, which made for downright satanic summer heat in the midst of a pandemic. This year we had a rainfall total of 12.78 inches to date. It might not sound like much, but it’s our third wettest monsoon on record. 13.4 is the record. So close!

2020: I filled an inflatable raft with water and invited Geordie’s girlfriend over for a hillbilly pool party, but she refused to get her hair wet.

As much as I love monsoon season, I don’t love all the critters the rain brings out; mosquitoes, of course, are out in full force, but we’ve also had an invasion of worms, moths, and butterflies. (I did get some footage of the butterflies, but I haven’t had a chance to go through it yet.) For my part, I’ll take the heat over the bugs. I think I actually spent more time outside last summer, even though it was cooler this year. Then again, last summer was what you might call special, and there’s something about not being allowed to get together that makes us want to find creative ways to get together outdoors (see photo below). This time around I haven’t felt the need to make kiddie pools in the backyard; the monsoon storms have been keeping me entertained. (Geordie, not so much. In the photos below, he’s comforting his old gal, Bean, during a thunderstorm.)

I was excited to film the lightning up close with my waterproof GoPro, but when I looked at the footage, I discovered that it’s actually better to film from a little bit of a distance. Apparently when you’re right under the storm, all you see is flickering light inside clouds, not so much the lightning bolts themselves. Luckily there were plenty of storms throughout the season to film. Editing all that footage has given me a new appreciation of what is meant by the phrase “lightning fast”. Going through hours of footage frame by frame is pretty tedious, but definitely worth the effort. It was fascinating to see details I couldn’t see in real time. To make the video below, I used footage from two different storms and I slowed down some, well most, of the clips. The first storm in the video happened in the evening, the second one includes some time lapse footage of a storm beginning in the evening going into night. At the end you’ll see a moment when the lightning lights up the sky so that for a fraction of a second it appears to be daytime. (And I really do mean fraction of a second. To capture that moment, I had to slow the clip waaaaaaay down.) With all the cloud cover, it doesn’t seem possible for the world to appear so bright. It’s kind of eerie.

Enjoy!

If you want to see some truly phenomenal lightning, check out the video below, which was filmed at a super high frame rate. (If you’re not interested in equipment and the like, you can skip ahead to 4:52.)

Further check in, seeing as it’s been a while: Besides my little moviemaking hobby, I’ve also been doing some very rudimentary crochet (you can see portions of the blankets I made in the aerial view of Geordie and Bean above), some very rudimentary oil painting, and some reworking of old short stories. The long-suffering novel is nearing completion…but then what? I still can’t bring myself to think about what to do with it. Hence, crochet.


What about you? What do you like doing during your summers?

11 thoughts on “Goodbye Monsoon Season

  1. I’ve always been a fan of a good lightning storm, and we get some decent ones here in Minnesota. Hail and tornadoes, too!

    I saw that Slo-mo video when they put it out (it’s one of the channels I follow), and it’s really good. Amazing stuff, lightning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Coming from Oklahoma, tornadoes are something I don’t miss. Hail, maybe just a wee little bit, just because it’s such a bizarre thing. But lightning…well, what can I say? I guess I just like flashing lights.

      I hadn’t heard of the Slo-mo channel until someone in my writing group sent me that video. Pretty cool. I can’t believe the frame rate…I want it!!! Maybe one of these days we’ll have such technology in our phones.

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      • Totally agree about hail. It’s fairly rare, and it doesn’t last long when it does happen, but ice falling from the sky is so seriously weird. I love the way it bounces when it hits the ground. Rain and snow don’t bounce! One time it was spiky hail:

        Currently it seems to take special cameras with special hardware for that kind of framerate, and I’m not sure what’s involved, but if a single CCD chip is creating the visual data, then it would almost seem that might someday be available on our phones. But if special mechanisms and multiple CCD chips are required, maybe not. Or it might just involve a very expensive and special CCD chip that would make phones too expensive (although tech has a way of getting less expensive over time).

        Who knows! I wouldn’t put it past them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That hail looks like covid! How weird.

          As for the technology, who knows. Out of curiosity I checked out the latest iPhone to see if they’ve made any improvements to video quality, and apparently they have: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72cAe_2LAFQ

          I’m particularly interested in their upgraded low light filming, but I’d have to work with it myself to believe it. My (admittedly very old) phone is so crummy in low light, I can’t believe any phone could really do the trick. I do like that they’re finally focusing on the video quality. If they keep going in this direction, I’ll be in trouble!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. My cousin, who’s up in Sedona, Az, in his last email, was talking about how they were getting much needed rainfall. This was right after we’d had a conversation about their sky high real estate prices, as compared to those in Louisiana. But, I pointed out, he has year round access to nature trails, mostly without bugs. Bugs in Louisiana are pretty much year round, although mosquitos less so in the cooler months. But in recompense we have lower real estate prices.

    For me lately, it’s been work, watching anime and other stuff, reading a little, sleep, repeat. Oh, and dealing with roof damage from Hurricane Ida; lots of fun there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was wondering about you when I heard the weather reports. Sorry to hear about the roof damage. I hope at least insurance is covering it. I know those kinds of repairs can be pricey.

      When I hear “Louisiana”, the first thing to come to mind is mosquitoes. Not alligators, not floods. Mosquitoes. Is it really terrible? I love being outside and just I couldn’t stand having to deal with bugs year round.

      Have you been to Sedona? It’s pretty nice. Just avoid those vortices. 😉 Hippie stuff aside, Sedona (and Flagstaff) is pretty expensive compared to other parts of the state. That said, things have changed recently. Supposedly people moved here from places like California during the pandemic. All I know is the property values near me have shot up to the levels they were at before the housing bubble burst. We keep getting little postcards from realtors asking if we want to sell our house. Pretty weird.

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      • On the roof damage, yeah, maddeningly, much higher deductibles kick in for any named storm, so insurance is off the hook in my case. The good news is I just lost shingles from a couple patches of roof, as well as a few others here and there. Still, together with tarping, the cost is still over $1500. But I’m lucky since I didn’t have any structural damage. A lot of people to the south and east got hit a lot harder.

        Mosquitoes are definitely a pain in Louisiana. In our case, the worst time is in the spring and summer. It gradually dies down in the fall, except after a major rain event, when there’s usually a surge. They’re usually a lot less present in the winter months, although you might still occasionally get bit near a body of water. Zika and West Nile are ongoing concerns. One of the silver linings of a hard freeze (which we might get one or two each winter) is it usually takes them out of the picture for a while.

        I’ve never been to Sedona. I just have a couple of cousins (who are brothers) who live there. One of them probably knows all about the vortices; he discovered New Age spirituality in midlife, which is what I think led him to Sedona. He was the one I was emailing with. He also talked about the invasion from California and its effects on prices. His brother is pretty unhappy about it. I think the postcard thing might be happening everywhere. We get them here and our market isn’t particularly hot.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We get the postcards (and mosquitoes) here in Minnesnowta. It’s the ticks I hate most, though.

          Here’s one of my dad’s favorite joke for you:

          Two mosquitoes are buzzing around this 300 lb guy, and one says to the other, “Should we eat him here or take him back to the nest?” The other replies, “Here! If we take him back to the nest, the big guys will get him.”

          Liked by 2 people

            • We actually have something here called the Mosquito Control Board that’s charged with keeping the population under control. They do a good job considering Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (and a zillion ponds and little rivers). In fact, the story is they got to 10,000, figured that was enough for a good motto, and called it quits.

              The idea of two mosquitoes carrying a 300-lb guy implies they are very large mosquitoes. But they’re worried about “the big guys” back at the nest. (Famously, the mosquito is the unofficial state bird around here.)

              Liked by 2 people

        • Sounds like your winters are similar to ours in terms of the number of freezes. Or maybe we have more…I’ll have to look it up. I’m noticing that now that the tarantulas in my backyard have gone underground, the bug situation has gotten slightly worse. Come back tarantulas!

          Sedona is nice, but a bit touristy. If you ever get a chance to go, you might like the drive to Flagstaff. The hike in elevation makes for some amazing views, and it’s short enough so that you’d have time to hang out in Flag for a nice day trip.

          Liked by 1 person

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