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Waiting on the rains


As I write this, on Monday, July 10, the accumulated rainfall total for the calendar-year 2023 is 1.4 inches.

I don’t have to tell you that’s not a lot of rain.

We live in the desert, so we don’t expect a lot of rain, but still, 1.4 inches.

Have you ever been to Dubuque, Iowa?

Me neither.

But in seeking to compare rain statistics, I randomly thought of Dubuque. It’s on the eastern border of Iowa, very close to both Illinois and Wisconsin on the Mississippi River. I’m sure it’s a nice place, with lots of trees and green grass. It has a population of just under 60,000 people. When I checked Google to learn more, I found they had a mass shooting the other day in which four people were shot. Of course, in this day and age, that just makes it Anytown, USA.

Dubuque has also had 14.0 inches of rain this year. This HALF-year, I should say. My Oklahoma math tells me that’s 10 times the rain we’ve had in Las Cruces.

Most years, Las Cruces doesn’t break double digits on rain inches for the whole 12 months. We almost did in 2018, with 9.4. And we did in both 2017 (11.6 inches) and 2015 (12.6 inches.)

In Dubuque, they got 31.5 inches last year, and broke 50 inches in 2018 and 2019.

I’m not complaining, and I sure as heck am not planning to relocate to Dubuque, but I was curious about other places’ weather. And we do need the rain.

It’s so easy to think things used to be better, in all phases of life. In my mind, I’ve always thought the monsoons brought a lot more rain in the mid-1990s, when I first moved to southern New Mexico. But the records indicate from 1995, my first year here, through 1999, we had only one double-digit year. That was 1997, with 10.4 inches. And we came close in 2000, with 9.9.

The real rainy stretch was the mid-2000s. From 2004 through 2007, we had double digits four years in a row. Highlighted with 13.2 in 2004, and 14.2 in 2006. But that was followed with seven straight years of less than 10 inches. The worst was our centennial year, with 5.5 inches.

In Dubuque, the last 17 years, they’ve only had one year when rainfall was under 30 inches. That was 2021, when it was 29.9.

The monsoon season is supposedly coming soon. (See Mike Cook’s article on Page XX). The afternoon clouds have started their annual afternoon bunching behind the Organs. We’ve been trained to expect big rains on the 3rd or 4th of July, but that didn’t happen this year, which worries me a bit.

In Las Cruces, umbrellas get more use as shade devices than protection from rain. When our storms do hit, they often bring that big New Mexico wind, which destroys your umbrella within seconds of opening it, rendering it useless as you stand there soaking.

When the rain finally stops, though, whether it’s rained for two minutes, two hours, or two days (that’s only happened once since I’ve lived here), we get something they’ll never have in Dubuque. And that’s the glorious smell of the desert after the rain.

Come on monsoons, we’re ready.