Winter Storms Drop Four Inches
of Rain; Queen Creek's a torrent
like the rest of Arizona, the Arboretum can be both blessed and afflicted
by heavy rains. If you have ever walked the trails here during a squall or
else shortly after rainfall you still remember the wonderful desert smells
of creosote or eucalyptus in the air, the earthy aroma of a soggy forest.
We record weather data each day, and had .68 inches Dec. 29, 1.04 inched Dec.
30, .02 on Dec. 31, another .62 Jan. 3, followed by 1.62 Jan. 4 and .66 on
Jan. 5. That totals at just over 4.6 inches in a memorably moist two weeks!
Benefits are obvious in the greening desert and wildflowers which are sprouting
all over - and which will make for glorious desert scenery beginning later
in February. But there's a downside too, a majestic old Stenocereus cactus
toppled Jan. 5, its shallow root system no longer able to support the weight
the thirsty plant above that had gorged on abundant water. Many arms of the
plant snapped off when it crashed to the ground;
Arboretum staff worked most of the day to set the huge cactus upright again,
and we'll transplant the broken branches to create cacti clones of the parent
plant. Arboretum groundskeeper Tammy Knight took the images here, which show
water cascading down waterfalls off the volcanic
cliffs throughoutout the Arboretum, pouring over Silver King Wash, and swelling
Queen Creek to a torrent. In between helping salvage the Stenocereus, Tammy
also got these great digital images of the job at hand that day...thanks Tammy!
And this is worth a look, too. The graph below shows stream flow though Queen Creek. Data is taken by the flow meter visitors pass along the main trail near the former Queen Creek bridge here at BTA, the small steel footbridge that washed out when a wall of water tore through the canyon in 1999. That smaller bridge was replaced in 2004 with the sturdy suspension bridge you see in the photos on this page. About 10 feet of water was recorded in Queen Creek when the bridge washed out in 1999, which puts some perspective on the graph below, and the water level we have experienced in recent weeks. If you have a fast internet connection and care to see video footage of the roiling storm waterater CLICK HERE to view Arboretum Horticulturist Kim Stone's 30-second clip of water rushing down Silver King Wash, through Queen Creek, and even pouring down a rare waterfall off the nearby volcanic cliffs above Queen Creek.