As I sit here this Sunday afternoon, our awesome God has finally allowed the clouds to spring a leak giving us good rains yesterday and today and a good share of the state is seeing those leaking clouds bringing much desired rains to replenish man, beast and the land. This rainstorm reminds me of when I lived in the east valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area in late 1980s and early 90s as the rains would last for hours if not for the whole day. It has been raining steady for the last five hours and it doesn’t look like it will let up from that precious moisture in the short term.
It is a good time to write about the rain and compare it to July of 1921 when the Coconino Sun and other newspapers reported that the “Drought is Busted Wide Open.” The livestock and range report while saying that the range looked better than in the previous six months, some areas had seen little rain. Where the drought had been the hardest in the state livestock was still being feed.
Snow Falls on the San Francisco Peaks!
What amazed me of all the reports on the weather was this one liner in the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff for July 29, 1921: “The Peaks received a fine covering of snow Monday forenoon while Flagstaff was being treated to another of the recent frequent summer showers.” That must have been a sight to see in July!
Newspaper Accounts of July Rains
“Mr. Keyster, of the Grand Canyon Sheep Co., was in town yesterday, as happy as a lark. Said the rain they had there was a blessing. Four inches of hail, that just missed the farmers whose crops it would have damaged, covered the hills and dales; then the rains descended and the floods came, and when it was all over Government Tanks, Moritz Lake and several other tanks were filled to the brim. With 5,000 additional cattle from the desert country grazing in that section, the water wouldn’t have lasted ten days more. Now, Mr. Keyster says, the cattle, which had been hanging around the tanks continuously, have struck off for the higher country, which is taken by cattlemen to mean that they sense a wet season.
“Supervisors Garing and W. H. Campbell, Dr. Felix Manning and County Attorney F. M. Gold, who spent part of the week at Grand Canyon, say there was a dandy rain there and at Rainy Tanks this week. There was also rain, but not as heavy, at two or three points on the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon road.
“Most of Black Bill and Doney Parks have been wet down in fine shape. The section between Mormon Lake and Lake Mary had what almost amounted to a cloudburst. Autoists coming in from Phoenix say that around Bumblebee it deluged a great area.
“Flagstaff lawns will need no more water from the city reservoir for some time, the fine shower yesterday filling a long-felt want.
“At Fort Valley there was a fine rain Tuesday and another yesterday. At Buck Taylor’s ranch at Fort Valley, there was more than eight inches of hail. Buck said it looked like two feet of hail and water. His garden and corn was ruined. So far as known, the hail did only little other damage in that section.”
Farmers in the vicinity of Spring Valley were getting good rains for their crops but little water was added to the water tanks. Farmers in the Salt River Valley downstream of Roosevelt Dam were assured that the water level would guarantee provisions for about 16 months. It must have been good rains to have rivers and washes behind the dam give up that much precious water.
Another report stated that the drought had also broken on the Navajo Reservation. It was looking grim on the reservation with stock dying or dead so the rains were welcomed by all, Native American and livestock. Some of the reports on the reservation were that a cloudburst hit Tuba City, Moencopi Wash was running nearly filled, and the nearly 15,000 sheep trying to get whatever water was in the mud at Red Lake should now have water to last for months.
Lightning Caused Death
With all the rain, there was one other sad note, reported in the Holbrook Tribune: a young sheepherder, his burro and dog had been killed by a lightning bolt six miles south of Snowflake. The sheepherder, Augustine Ayala, worked for the H. H. Scorse company, Holbrook. He was planning on quitting as a sheepherder at the end of the week.
While the rains we are receiving today and have received in the past week may not break our drought it surely has given us much needed rain. It will not fill up the dams that supply our needs throughout the year, it will renew the grasses for the livestock, our lawns and vegetation will be greener, and the forests will get the moisture they need to help keep forest fires at bay.