Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Webcam on the Catalina Mountains

Do you think the sky can't really look this spectacular over the Catalina Mountains? Do you think filters and Photoshop were used to produce this purple mountain majesty? Then you haven't been in Tucson very long. Skies like this are not typical, but when I see one, I'm reminded again of how incredibly lucky I am to live here.

Do you think it never rains in Tucson? Then you're really in for a surprise. I moved to Tucson in June 1990, and the all-time record high temperature of 117 degrees was reached within a few weeks of my arrival. Someone told me, "Wait until the monsoons start! It rains so hard, it's like a miracle!" I thought this was a pretty strange outlook on rain, having come from the east coast where rain is a nuisance that frequently ruins plans.

Then, one night in early July, right on schedule, the monsoons started. The skies opened like a pouring bucket, and the streets were instantly flooded. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in minutes, and the spicy fragrance of creosote bushes filled the washed air. Everyone ran outside, raised their faces to the sky, danced around and got soaked while the lightning crashed and flashed. I think that was the moment I realized I was home. I thought, "Wow, they worship the rain here. That's pretty cool." The next day, the ocotillo branches leafed out and the mountains turned from brown to green. Everyone and everything rejoices when the monsoons arrive.

Do you think it never snows in Tucson? Surprise, surprise, surprise! Don't leave your woolies behind if you are moving here from some frozen netherworld. While it could be 75 degrees in the city when the snow is on the mountains, you'll want to be able to go up Mt Lemmon and make some snow angels.

Notice the temperature stamp in the upper right corner of the photo. 31 degrees at 10:31 AM. BRRRR! Also, the snow still hasn't melted from the tile roofs. Many people would have been taking a snow day, which is a lot more fun here than snow days are back east.

These photos were taken by the webcam on top of the Gould Simpson geology building on the campus of the University of Arizona. You can check out the webcam here.

I know a sad ex-Tucsonan who keeps the webcam site on his computer screen all day so he can torture himself with views of what he's missing in Tucson.

Check out the webcam site, and you'll find an archive of some of the coolest photos, as well as all-day videos, which are absolutely fascinating.

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