This summer has been making me think of my grandpa over and over. When I was a kid he had a saying that I can hear in my mind as if he was still with us. When we were in desperate need of rain he would say that it was, “drier than a popcorn fart”. To this day I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. I looked it up on the urban dictionary and still I’m a little confused. I will go with definition 3.
popcorn fart – something that is very dry.
a peice of bread without butter or water can be drier than a popcorn fart.
So basically it just means it’s really really dry? I still don’t understand the reference to flatulence.
There are several tools I use to keep track of precipitation in my area. It is helpful in gardening and beekeeping alike. This first tool is something I used to use a lot back when I had time to go fishing in many of the creeks and rivers close to my home. Today I will cover the USGS Current Water Data for Indiana – Statewide Streamflow Table. Pick your state by going to USGS Current Water Data for the Nation. Whether you know it or not USGS keeps tabs on stream flow all across the nation. Odds are many of the streams around you are monitored.
Radar information will tell you if a storm moves through an area, but does little to inform you just how much precipitation has fallen. The Sreamflow data is useful because it can give you an idea of WHERE rain fell and a relative IDEA of how much. So how do you use it?
The dots represent monitoring stations. The color gives you an idea of current flow data in reference to the normal average for your current time of year. There is a key at the bottom of each page telling you what the colors means. Holding your mouse over the dot will provide you with a brief summary. Not all stations give the exact same data set, but all of it can be useful.
Useful information in the Summary normally includes:
Drainage area – This is represented in square miles and can help to pinpoint exactly where the rain has fallen and help you assess how widespread each rain event has been.
%normal (median) and % normal (mean) – basically tells you more long term pattern information, is it wetter or drier than normal. The large number of BRICK RED dot’s is a good indication that rivers are running low in the state of Indiana.
discharge – volume of water going past the station in cubic feet per second. From stream to stream this will vary greatly. What IS useful is the change and trending information. As the river level goes up the water moves faster thus increasing the discharge.
Stage: – water depth at the station. Again this varies from station to station and is highly dependent on where the station is located, but if you watch the trending it will tell you if a deluge has occurred.
The site has been updated within the last several years and when you click on one of the dots a window will appear –
WaterWatch: Water Resource Conditions. If you click on the different tabs more information will become available.
These tabs give you the follwoing information:
Hydrograph: If you click on this tab and then on the small graph a display will show you Discharge in Cubic feet per second and/or Gage height. Different stations will show either/or, or both. What you are looking for here is changes in the levels. These changes indicate rain events. Several hours after a rain there will be a spike in discharge that you can see on a graph. The date ranges can be changed to broaden your search. This is the main thing I am looking at after a rain event.
Peak: Not that useful for what I do, but will help you to evaluate where you are at as per a normal (or abnormal) year. This lets me know if I need to have water out for my bees.
Forecasat: This tab is fairly new and I haven’t used it. Mess around with it. If you find it useful let me know. I have not found a “bee utility” for it yet.
Rating: This is a “customized rating curve builder”. I have never messed with it, but again if you find utility in it please let me know.
Mess around with this site. It has a ton of information. I use it all through the year. In the spring to monitor if different trap locations need checking (I have noticed that bees occupy traps a lot of times after rain events.) In the dog days of summer it will helps me locate places where white clover is likely to pop up after a dry spell and where bees may need extra hydration.
I will be placing links to this information on the LetMBee site in the header under Resources. If you have any questions about it or I have been unclear about something feel free to say so in the comments or e-mail me.