Just a song before I start, to whom it may concern…
Our sports editor is on vacation in Minnesota this week, even though he is still filing stories from the land of 10,000 lakes.
This means I’ve been proofreading the sports section, and if I understood what I read this morning, our sports editor for the newspaper that covers Tooele County is on vacation in Minnesota and he is writing stories about the Salt Lake Bees playing baseball in Tennessee.
That’s not only evidence of Darren Vaughan’s dedication to his craft, but also some kind of testimony to the possibility of telecommuting and the changing landscape of news gathering in the electronic age.
I know that’s totally irrelevant to my column today, but I just wanted to take a point of personal privilege to point that out.
Back to Out and About.
It would have been the summer and early fall of 1974 in the town of Lacey, Washington, not too far from the state capital of Olympia — I was a senior in high school and we had a new head football coach from Kalispsell, Montana. His name was Dewey Allen — short in stature as I recall but long enough in both knowledge of the game and positive enough in attitude to turn around a program that had probably won less games in the four years since the school opened than there are fingers on one hand.
We started out two-a-day turnouts somewhere in the middle of August. For the Pacific Northwest it was seasonably good weather, warm but not hot and it was dry.
But then the skies turned gray. It started to rain, not a full on heavy rainstorm, but just a constant drizzle that made everything wet, which meant the practice field turned a little muddy.
The drizzle continued through the end of August and into the first week or maybe even two, of September.
I can’t remember where we were going, but I got into Coach Allen’s car with him in the parking lot one day. Back then getting a ride from a teacher was permissible, and Coach Allen was almost family because he had dated my father’s cousin when he was in high school in Kalispell.
As we drove around the short circle of the parking lot and headed for the exit, Coach Allen turned to me and asked, “Gillie, this is going to stop isn’t it?”
“What,” I asked.
“The rain,” he said. “I’ve heard it rains a lot here, but this isn’t normal isn’t it?”
“Last fall we had four weeks of steady rain,” I said.
“Oh,” he replied.
I suggested he may want to buy a poncho.
It was the only time I saw Coach Allen with anything remotely like a defeatist look on his face. The man was always inexplicably positive.
I was thinking about this encounter with Coach Allen as I wrote the May weather wrap story for the Transcript Bulletin.
Tooele has received a little more rainfall than normal so far this year.
Normal rainfall in Tooele by the end of May is 14.10 inches. By the end of May 2019, Tooele had received 18.54 inches or rainfall, according to Tooele City’s official observer for the National Weather Service.
That’s 4.44 inches, or 32%, more than normal.
Just to keep this in perspective for Coach Allen, the normal annual rainfall in Tooele is 20 inches, the normal annual rainfall in Kalispell, Montana, is 17 inches, and the normal annual rainfall in Lacey, Washington, is 50 inches.
May is usually the second wettest month in Tooele with an average of 2.4 inches of rain. The wettest month in Tooele is usually March with 2.5 inches of rain.
Come June, and it’s like somebody shut off the spigot, the average rainfall for June in Tooele is 1.2 inches.
With the 32% extra rainfall so far this year, local reservoirs are full, and water is spilling over and safely running in channels designed by man or nature. Weather observers tell us that with moderate temperatures at high altitudes and no unseasonal storms, we may avoid major flooding.
But even with 4.44 inches of extra rain, our underground aquifers may still be thirsty.
One report I have read on Tooele Valley’s aquifer states that “A single year of above-average precipitation does not appear to have affected water levels …”
Our hydrologist for Utah with the National Resources Conservation System said he was hoping some of that extra moisture would find its way into the ground to help replenish our natural underground water storage system.
Maybe we should hope for a fall like 1974 in Washington, where Coach Allen had to wear a rain poncho to stay dry.
Actually, if I recall right, it didn’t rain that entire football season, but it was probably a lot wetter than Coach Allen experienced when he played high school football in Kalispell. And our team went on to win more games in that season than it did in the last four.
“Into each life some rain must fall,” may not be a bad thing.