Possumhaw: Looks like rain


Shannon Bardwell



The rains came down and the floods came up. The phone continually sent flood alerts while Tropical Storm Barry made headway. But a day later, from my window on the world, rain was falling in a patch about 12 feet by 12 feet on the east side of the lake dock. The rest of the lake's surface was perfectly still. I wondered just how much new-to-me information I could find about rain. Turns out, it was quite a lot.  


Tiny drops of water vapor are always in the air, especially in the warm days of summer, making the air humid. Warm air rises, taking the water droplets with it. A lot of water droplets make up the clouds, then the clouds get heavy and gravity pulls the water down again.  


A drizzling rain is one that can go on for hours, while a shower is fast and quick. A shower is like when you arrive at the grocery store on a perfectly sunny day, get out of your car, and there's a downpour. Then the phone goes off with a flash flood warning. In the Prairie there are roads that flood from Catalpa Creek. I rarely go that way anymore since we've had so much rain and the road's most likely flooded or muddy. I admit I'm hesitant to drive through any amount of rain covering a road. Reports say flash flooding kills more people in the U.S. than tornados, earthquakes or lightning. That's all I needed to hear to keep to high ground.  


Out here where crops of cotton, soybeans, corn, winter wheat, sunflowers and hay grow, we watch the rain on the fields. Farming is such a tricky endeavor -- too little rain or too much. One inch of rain on a square foot of land weighs 5.20 pounds. One inch of rain on one acre of field weighs 113.31 tons, according to a study at Dickinson Research Extension Service in North Dakota. It's a wonder we're not all beat to death by the rain. 


Rain's not all water. There's dirt, dust, insects, grass and even chemicals. I did know rain can wash pollen into the air so that it swirls all around us. Rain churns up plant oils into the atmosphere and activates bacteria in soil, and this is part of the smell of rain. If it hasn't rained in a long time, the earthy smell is called petrichor.  


The average rainfall for Mississippi is 54.16, while Hawaii has the greatest amount of annual rainfall at 63 inches. Something to check on when planning a vacation. I can appreciate that for several weeks I've had little to no need to water plants and flowers and that has been nice. The lakes are full. 


Sam, the weather watcher, reports before the rains came the early morning surface temperatures of the Tombigbee River were around 89 degrees. Since the rain, the water temperatures have cooled a bit, but not as low as crappie prefer, being around 60 degrees. Better fish deep.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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