Sunday, June 28, 2020


It's not my imagination.

With all the fun things weather sites can do, I have had a new source of frustration over the past few years: watching the radar tell me that rain is coming in 30-90 minutes, only to have it somehow pass us by.  This is IMPOSSIBLE! How can it rain in Bedford and rain in Dunbarton, but the clouds scatter and drop nothing on us AGAIN? Because I work in Concord, and note that it sometimes misses there as well, going above and below, I have suspected, and grudgingly conceded, that they might have it almost as bad.

The clouds generally come from W or WSW, so what is happening in Keene is often a moderately good indicator of what will be happening in Goffstown in an hour.  Albany, NY is about two hours ahead. (Funny how it is much more than twice as far as Keene culturally, with two state borders in between.) We are currently in a drought, so I am watching the weather anxiously and a bit obsessively the last few days.  We had 20 minutes of light rain yesterday, but the "heavy thunderstorms" that have been expected have consistently parted about fifty miles to the west and gone to the north of us and south of us. AGAIN!  Just like every year, it seems.

In the more rational parts of my brain I recognise that this is just my impression.  It can't really be the case that Nashua and Laconia get significantly more rain than Manchester and Concord.  It's just my bitter cynicism, aided by the confirmation bias of remembering those times when we had no rain, forgetting the downpours that drenched us and missed our neighbors.  Yet in my frustration, today I went looking for average precipitation of places in NH.

I was right.  Goffstown is in a narrow band of diminished precipitation. Twenty miles south and twenty miles north both get significantly more precipitation.  Also, because of the increased rainfall near the coast, that dry band I live in gradually moistens starting about 20 miles east as well. There is an even drier band Above The Notch (Usually Franconia, but also Pinkham) extending up into Quebec, but from Mount Washington to Nashua, there is a 30-mile swath of lower moisture, and I both live and work in it. Mount Washington has twice the precipitation everywhere else, but starting from the north, this is the yearly precipitation

Plymouth 44.68 in
Laconia 44.15 in
Concord 40.61 in
                  Goffstown is between the two, more on the Manchester side
Manchester 42.05in
Nashua 47.97 in
Just across the border in Mass, it's similar to Nashua - which is pretty much part of Massachusetts these days anyway. Worcester 47, Lowell 48.

As I was writing this, another storm dissipated around us, not a drop, and the projected storm for the evening has already disappeared. AGAIN.

Additional note:  Different sites give different numbers for annual rainfall - I don't know why, just different methods, I suppose - but all of them track comparably.


Donna B. said...

It's geography. Even a small change in elevation can make a difference in rainfall, wind velocity, and other weather phenomena. A body of water adds complexity... in complex ways.

Aggie said...

How often do you notice it raining on one side of the Merrimack, and dry on the other side (this would be for showers, not storm systems)

I notice it infrequently when I cross the Brazos and am always amazed.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have not heard of that, nor seen it. I'll look for it and ask around. There are known natural changes, often related to even small mountains, such as the Notches, as above, or Exit 12 on Rte 89 near Sunapee. Above that has much less rain, and much more snow. I don't know why.

Retriever said...

Us too. Both places. As I tiresomely remind my family, if you don't have water you don't have anything....we found this out after Storm Sandy (a surfeit of water), when we managed fine fixing the place up a couple weeks in late fall with no electricity, but had to leave for a couple days when the water company turned off the water to deal with flood stuff...

We had the same thing as you a recent weekend, when roiling thunderclouds approached the eyrie and I anticipated the parched and dusty garden getting something more than I could give it when I nearly drained the well (first time up there after half a year, then a month of no rain, a killing frost June 1, and trying a last attempt for some fall veggies, watering three days in a row just to damp down several inches of dust). Not allowing anyone in family to shower or flush often. Blah blah blah. Apparently no rain all the week after I planted, and no using the well til level improves, so likely all I planted will crispy shrivel...Stripes of places got rain but not us.

Maybe I jinxed us, this winter, reading Egan's "the Worst Hard Time" about the Dust Bowl I had been noticing how each year up north it has been hotter and drier and easier to grow tomatoes and peppers and winter squash and shell beans, but frequent failures in droughts...Our microclimate used to average 70s, and wet all summer, with awful bugs, but way cooler than our usual den, Cabbage and potatoes did great. But first we clear cut around the house to dry out an area and let the breeze rid us of bugs. Then summer temperatures began creeping up and less rain. I've been planting widely spaced apple trees near the house to try and balance things out, but then we get the 10 below in winter that zaps the weaker stuff.. No birds to speak of except an occasional raptor high in the sky, I think too few bugs and berries for them..

Now here, God more merciful this week. Right after for profit water company put in mandatory restrictions (but not on golf courses), and as my grass has gone dormant a month earlier than usual,: we just got an inch and a half of desperately needed rain in about a half an hour thunderstorm. Mostly it sank into the veggie beds and pathetically struggling grass, not much wasted in run off.

We don't have any nearby arrays of wind turbines that might be messing with wind and cloud patterns and disrupting our rainfall. We are surrounded by woods up north, so I increasingly worry about forest fire. As we never did when I was young and it was wetter and cooler.

I often wonder (wherever I go) about the impact on all our microclimates of things like the power company clear cutting further back from the lines, or of some properties growing different kinds of trees, or if there might be wind turbines somewhere I can't see. Or some mammoth development ditto.

Was visiting a relative in Arizona a couple of years ago. Love the place, especially when the cacti flower...They had got eco chic belatedly and had ripped out the former lawn , rosebushes, and deciduous trees that had made the former owner less homesick for New England. In their place, most of the yard (like their neighbours) now horrible gravel and rocks that you can't walk on (no little kids in residence) , and assorted desert plants, cacti, succulents, some very mere scrubby trees. The temperature 10-20 degrees hotter any given day than when I first visited. I wondered if simply all the concrete everywhere, from the development, and all the water saving natural landscaping had basically turned it back into a desert furnace (it was 112 today). Whereas, water wasting grass etc cool a place down as they "waste"all that water...Of course that area is running out of water tho nobody will admit it,,,

But now we face our running low even here in a place my desert loving relative views as a Green Eden of flowers and fruit.

Christopher B said...

When I was a boy in Iowa I remember us driving down a road near home where one side was dry and the other wet from a rain shower. Hailstorms would act much the same way, starting and stopping abruptly. Local rainfall was always a topic after church services, and it wasn't uncommon for it to vary wildly in intensity over a few miles.

Sam L. said...

The skies don't like you. Dang skies! WHAT did you do to get in bad with them?