A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
– William Butler Yeats
A friend sent me a note last night with the memorable subject line – “slouching towards intermittency” – along with a report from the USGS noting that the agency’s famed Embudo gauge on the Rio Grande, oldest in the system, had slipped below 175 cubic feet per second.
Yesterday’s daily average reported flow for the gauge – 178 cfs – is the lowest for that date in a history (with a data gap of a few years in the early 20th century) going back to 1895.
At these low levels it is too much, despite their excellent work, to expect the sort of precision from the USGS stream gaugers to unequivocally call this “the lowest flow”, but within the margin of error it is statistically indistinguishable from the lowest flows ever recorded at this point in the year on New Mexico’s Rio Grande.
1902, 2002, and 2018.