What looked like a very bleak growing season in the early spring is showing some life because of unusual weather patterns that began producing rain in the Lahontan Valley in late April and continuing through last weekend.
Midwest-type of weather blew through Churchill County on Thursday with heavy rain within a 45-minute period, strong winds and pea-sized hail.
On the same day, the National Weather Service also issued numerous flash flood warnings for parts of Douglas County.
Even a denominational Day of Prayer on Feb. 1 sought a blessing to restore moisture to the valley. The response did not come immediately, yet a series of storms later began to drop rain.
By all means the drought is not over and it won’t be for months, but area ranchers and farmers are euphoric because of Mother Nature’s generosity and because we don’t live in Oregon where collected rain is considered as state property.
Prudent use of existing water, though, must be the primary focus for our ranchers and farmers as this area enters the midway point of the growing season.
Before the latest storms arrived in the valley in June, growers at the Lahontan Dam’s centennial expressed guarded optimism that two cuttings or irrigations of crops could occur, and a miracle would include a third cutting.
In addition to the miracle, growers used their ingenuity in sectioning off the best fertile pieces of ground for growing or for using a combination of water sources.
For many, though, that third cutting now looks promising after last week’s daily rain showers although the yield may not be as bountiful as the first two.
The results, though, look much better now than what they did three and four months ago. Late July and August have also had a track record of producing some monsoonal showers that push into our area from Arizona, so the miracle may not be over yet.
Growers also point to the last time this area had a similar drought. From about 1992-1994 a drought affected many parts of the West, but the positioning of El Nino off the Pacific Coast of California broke the dry spell and returned the moisture. During the winter of 1996-97, Reno and the outlying area experienced flooding that also shut down the airport for a short time because of water ebbing onto the tarmac and runways.
The NWS, though, is thinking positive. A meteorologist said El Nino is forming, and the system may be a small reason for the frequent showers although he said El Nino is more of a winter-time phenomena.
Whatever is occurring, however, has been beneficial for the valley. We are thinking positive, too, as we’ll see more rain from now until the end of growing season.
Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.