Jim Palmer and I were sitting at a table having a little personal celebration of life. It was lunch at one of our favorite restaurants near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Our view, through floor to ceiling windows, was one of a raging Big Cottonwood Creek.
We were watching water that had begun its flow high in the Wasatch Mountains just about 19 miles east from where we were sitting. From its source to the Jordan River it will have traveled 26 falling, curving and cutting miles.
“The water will crest sometime between 3 and 4 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Jim said.
“Really?” I said, surprised.
“Yes. The peak snowmelt occurs during the warmth of the afternoon and it takes the water about that long to reach the valley,” he explained.
I had been marveling about the perfect water year while sitting with Jim and staring at the magnificent, dancing water. The vision and thoughts were what led me to describe our winter and spring weather as “perfect.”
I didn’t know, at the time, that Jim had recently attended a water planning meeting as a Salt Lake County Planning Commissioner. The planning commission had been briefed about the likelihood of potential flooding due to warming temperatures that had begun to melt the vast high elevation snow pack.
“We’ve had cooler spring temperatures than normal, right along with the higher than normal snow pack,” he said. “That allowed the low- and mid-level snow pack to percolate into the drought-starved ground until it was saturated. And, that has allowed the higher elevation snow pack to melt and then run over saturated ground into accommodating rivers and streams. It didn’t all come down at once!”
I marveled as Jim spoke.
“It’s been perfect,” I said.
“That’s exactly what the hydrologist said,” Jim replied.
Big Cottonwood Creek below us prompted me to consider more descriptions of its function. It was a sort of weather vane, a visual demonstration of our current weather. It was also acting as another type of vein: a channel transporting water from Wasatch Mountain peaks to the Great Salt Lake. Finally, I thought of how it was a symbol of human vanity.
How many of us have tuned in to the weather miracle Jim and I discussed during our personal celebration of life? Or have too many of us become so vain as to no longer see and cherish the importance and wonder of how our weather has given such a marvelous gift and ended a long drought?
Have we become weather vain?
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.