Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time for Noah's ark?

(The webbing between my toes is now nearly complete.)

Yesterday's downpour was the most rain I have ever seen fall at my house in Ithaca in 29 years, maybe the hardest rain I have ever seen in my life. It came down in sheets for a solid 30 minutes. It is exactly the kind of rain in parts of the West that results in flash floods that kill people. I had water flowing on my property in places where I have never seen moving water. And of course, it rained almost every day in June, much of July, and now more of the same in August. Fortunately, we live near the top of the hill surrounded by forest, so the chances of sliding off into an abyss is small. If this is the new normal, I may as well live in Costa Rica where I can find really good rice and beans, and cheap rum.

How wild animals endure these weather events is not clear to me, because who wants to be out there trying to find out? I have hummingbirds all over the place this summer, and I assume they are sitting under the protective cover of some tree branch. But it would be fascinating to observe the exact location and position they assume. After the rain, I walked through my woodlot and saw water flowing through a buried hollow log that I know is a runway for short-tailed shrews. Where the heck did they go? On the other hand, these large slugs we have in abundance this summer must have popped the top on a cold one, closed their sun umbrella, and rolled over on their backs to get more comfortable. It would have been a great time to make more slime!

Only time will tell if our summers become more rainy in general due to climate change, but more extreme rainfall events are predicted for the Northeast (see http://downloads.climatescience.gov/sap/sap3-3/sap3-3-final-all.pdf). Is this summer a hint of what is to come? More rainfall will result in shifts in abundance or geographic ranges of plants and animals over time. So, will we have more slugs and fewer shrews? More water cress and fewer tomatoes? More umbrellas and less moisturizing cream? Just a thought. But in the meantime, I am searching Google Do It Yourself sites for "arks".


  1. Thank you for this blog! I have been having DrTom withdrawal symptoms. Keep the interesting reads coming.

  2. Tom - An 80 year old man was actually swept away by floodwaters in Erie County and was killed. Not often does Upstate New York experience the destructive effects of Nature outside of snow storms. Funny you posted the link to that article, I was wondering the same thing. Glad to hear from you! PS I should be coming down to Itahca in the fall sometime. I will fill u in as it approaches.

  3. Nice seeing you both here. I am looking forward to a nice leisurely blog without major controversy. But time will tell.