Water in the Desert

Via the work blog, a hilarious tidbit from this morning’s New Mexico Drought Monitoring Working Group meeting – a Special Weather Statement sent out Saturday by the El Paso office of the National Weather Service:

For the last several weeks parts of the Rio Grande have gone completely dry…especially on El Paso’s west side. Many people have taken advantage of this and have been using the river bed as a place to ride all-terrain vehicles or horses. But on Friday the USBR began to release water from Caballo Dam. This water is slowly making its way down the sandy and dry Rio Grande. The water is expected to arrive in El Paso late on Monday. People who have been using the Rio Grande for recreational purposes should be aware that water will once again be flowing in the river late on Monday.

You know it’s a desert when you have to warn people ahead of time when there’s going to be water in their river. (Hat tip to Ed Polasko, the Albuquerque NWS hydrologist, who a well-developed sense of the ironies of the task of tracking water in the desert.)



  1. In Australia, we’ve made lemonade out of that kind of desert circumstance. There’s the Henley-on-Todd regatta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henley-on-Todd_Regatta) that is run annually. Raced on a dry river bed, the competitors pick up their bottomless boats and race, Fred Flintstone style, down the river.

    The 1993 event was cancelled due to water in the river.

  2. Well I went to the river
    Jes’ to water my hoss
    Couldn’t find no river
    So I rode right across
    on that driftin’ shiftin’ Texas sand

    – Webb Pierce

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