SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Raindrops Keep Falling On Our Heads


May 11, 2012

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska
- My, my, my, didn’t we all get wet over the rainfall a few days ago.
jpg Dave Kiffer

Facebook postings. Twitters. Stories in the newspaper. Even in the state news. Much gnashing of teeth and grumbling back and forth in public.

As if it never rains here.


More than nine inches in two days. Back in the day, I’m sure my great grandparents would have called that a persistent drizzle.

Still, for us modern livers and lovers of the easy life, it seemed like a lot.

Not as much as October 30 and 31st of 1972, when we got 11.38 inches in two days.

Or October 18 and 19th of 1964 when we got 11.30 inches in two days.

Or that wonderful deluge on November 18 and 19th of 1917 when we got more than a foot of rain in two days, 13.8 inches to be exact.

All told the national weather service reports that the 9+ inches of rain we got on that halcyon Sunday and Monday in early May was “only” the 19th wettest two day recording period in Ketchikan’s history.

Significant, but neither epic nor biblical. No arks yet, even though it continues to rain.

Actually we’d probably try to build a couple of arks, but the wood’s just too wet to cut. And I seem to have misplaced my cubit measuring stick.

When I was a little kid, I asked my Dad if the clouds ever ran out of water. He said he didn’t know because he was only 47.

Natch, I digress And, of course, this recent “light watering” pails comparison to Oct 11, 1977 when 8.71 inches of rain was recorded. In one day.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t here then. I was in Southern California in my first semester of college. But I took some rain with me. My first six months in Los Angeles coincided with the breaking of a 10 year drought. Some 20 inches of rain fell that winter. Enough to cause landslides and actually put water in the Los Angeles River!

So you could say that I am a “rainmaker” in the true Ketchikan tradition! Except, that when I left it should have gotten better here. Sorry, but 8.71 inches of rain in a single day does not constitute better.

So what was it like that day when the heavens opened at just about twice the rate of rainfall we just saw on either of those two recent dreadful days?

I am so glad you asked.

I went back to the source, the well, so to speak. The rainfall was moderately big news in the Ketchikan Daily News on October 11, 1977.

There was a front page headline about “6 inches of rain in 18 hours.” There was a photo of a car splashing through the inevitable water park that was always caused by blocked storm drains on Tongass near Waterfront Storage. And there were the inevitable warnings to pump out boats.

The next day there was a story about “store floodings” as the rain continued (48 hours straight!!!). Although the newspaper story only named one “flooded” store, Yukon Office Supply.

There were a couple of more pictures of cars hydroplaning on Tongass Avenue. And a story about six boats filling up with water and sinking at Thomas Basin and Bar Harbor.

That was about it for the coverage of the “deluge of the century.”

The bigger stories that day were interesting.

The State DOT was thinking about a “reconnaissance survey” for potential locations for bridges to Gravina!

The borough and city mayors were both talking favorably about a plan to consolidate!!

Work was progressing on developing the multibillion-dollar molybdenum mine at Quartz Hill in the Misty Fjords. It would surely open within the next five years!!!

Well, those stories are another relentless kind of deluge. Or maybe just three examples of endless local water torture?

Digression number two!!!!

Can you imagine what would happen if we got 8 inches of rain in a single day today. We would absolutely drown. In a deluge of Facebook postings and tweets.

We would issue such a storm surge of instantaneous electric commentary and fussitude that we would overwhelm the World Wide Web with a tsunami of discourse that would end life as we know it. Take that Mayan prognosticators!

In the meantime, while all our eyes were trained on the rain pouring down, we pretty much missed something more disturbing.

Did you look at the mountains Tuesday morning?

Yes, that was fresh Termination Dust on them thar hills.

Winter is a’coming.

In the middle of May.  

On the Web:

More Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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Dave Kiffer ©2012

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