You want green? Head north
Still more evidence that Wisconsin has a climatic divide—what’s happening up north isn’t what’s happening down south, particularly here in Rock County.
My wife, Cheryl, and I were on our way north Friday night to visit my parents in the Oneida County community of Minocqua. We were about halfway into our four-hour trip when I looked ahead and suggested a mostly white cloud looked like a thunderhead. About 30 minutes later, as the cloud grew larger and a bit foreboding, I pointed out its expansion.
About five minutes after that, while we were still in Lincoln County, whatever northwoods radio station we were listening to said Lincoln, Oneida and several other counties were under a severe thunderstorm watch.
A little later, I wondered if we’d make it to Minocqua before it started raining. The answer didn’t take long, and the storm system grew more fearsome despite the amazing lighting the sun was casting on it as the orange globe sank to the west. (I wished I had taken the camera).
Then I wondered aloud whether we might not be driving right into a tornado as I noticed a little rotation in a sagging black cloud on the north edge of the system.
By the time we reached Minocqua, we’d largely driven out of the rain. Mom reported, however, that it had come down in buckets at the house, 1¼ inches worth, in fact. The 10 p.m. TV news reported that a tornado warning had been sounded for Oneida County because of the cloud I’d seen, though the funnel didn’t touch down.
More rain and storms blew through overnight, and the total rainfall was 2½ inches.
That, Mom said, was on top of 5½ inches that fell during two storms a couple of weeks ago.
Things, as you might imagine, look lush and green up north.
On June 29, The Gazette reported that the Janesville wastewater treatment plant has measured a measly 0.65 inches of rainfall since June 1, most of it coming sporadically, one-tenth of an inch at a time. The June average is 4.3 inches.
I don’t need to tell you how much has fallen around here since June 29.
The corn crop looks it. Cheryl and I saw lots of fields down south where the corn has that faded green hew that looks as though you had cut it a couple of days ago. The bases of stalks are turning crispy brown, and the shriveled leaves in many fields look more like prairie grass rather than healthy corn.
It’s sad, really.
Meanwhile, the northern corn crop is doing well and is ahead of its usual schedule, according to a brief on today's Gazette state page. No surprise to me.
We should have taken a rain barrel north. We could have filled it up and dumped it back here on our yard.
Too bad all that rain doesn’t run down the highways north to south. We need a good soaker, but the forecast for this week suggests more of the same—nada, zip, fagettaboutit.