Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary


This page was designed with CSS, and looks best in a CSS-aware browser—which, unfortunately, yours is not. However, the document should still be readable, though not presented in the most sophisticated manner.

As the rainy season approaches, rural people throughout the desert watch the sky, increasingly anxious. Will this be another year when the rains come too late, or even worse, don't come at all? Or another year where the famously spotty desert rains water your neighbor's fields, bless the lucky man, while your corn slowly wilts to the ground? Or will this be the year when the crops are watered, the wells replenished, the dry cattle tanks filled once more, and all is right with the world?

Aha! A cloud building to the west—a harbinger of soaking rains to replenish stores depleted by the dry months? Or perhaps, please, at least a nice little shower to lay the dust and cool the air? Or, all too often in the Chihuahuan Desert, a cloud has gray streamers of rain emerging from its base, falling earthward, only to evaporate into the dry air below, never reaching the thirsty ground. Only time will tell, and in the desert, time's tale all too often ends sadly.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

rain streamers

Falling gray streamers of rain. This time, rain will reach the ground. Next time???



Web Resources

Kathy Miles' site. Several explanations for phenomena associated with rain.