Last week I got a message from a man back in my old hometown in Georgia. He was coming with his family this week for their first visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks. He was concerned about all the rain we’ve been having and wanted to know if it would spoil his trip. I reassured him that this place is beautiful, rain or shine. When we talk about a lot of rain here in the mountains, it isn’t anything like what we mean by a lot of rain back East. We don’t average 2 inches of rain in Teton Valley even in our wettest months, while some storms back East bring that much in the time it takes you to mow the lawn again. Well, almost. So when we talk about a week with lots of rain, that usually means there will also be plenty of time in between showers with no rain at all, and maybe even some clearing skies.
So far, May is shaping up to be above average in rainfall for us. As of Sunday at my measuring location north of the airport in Driggs, we’ve had just over an inch and a quarter of rain. The average May rainfall for Driggs is 1.9 inches of rain, so we are getting very close to that with plenty of rain in the forecast for the rest of the month. The wetcast suggests that we'll be well above average by the time the month ends. It may have happened by the time this blog is published. Shoot, it may have happened by sunrise tomorrow.
For those of us lucky enough to live here, rain is of course, vital; couldn’t live without it. For visitors, though, the rain and clouds may be disappointing at first, but there are some advantages to discover. One, as I already mentioned, is that the showers are usually scattered, rarely steady for days. You will see more different kinds of weather in a typical day here than you might in a week somewhere else. Another is that if you came here to see the mountains and marvel at their grandeur, clouds can add perspective to the scene, showing you how very grand the mountains really are with their heads poking up into the clouds and sometimes rising up above them. Another advantage that thick clouds can provide is taking attention away from the big things and focusing it on the details, that small flower, the butterfly, the nest in the tree, the distant spot that keeps moving around in the meadow, all beauty that might go completely unnoticed if attention was drawn overhead to the towering peaks.
Best of all, when a visitor experiences many kinds of weather during their visit, they come away with a true picture of what it’s really like here. It’s the sudden changes, the stark contrasts, the variety of weather that helps give Teton Valley some of the most captivating beauty you will find anywhere.