Column: Drought days of summer in Texas, not in Nevada where it's called summer

I strolled outside this week because, rumor had it, there was water falling from the sky.

Sure enough. Rain, I think they call it.

This was not particularly newsworthy, except the rain in Carson City happened to come on the same day that parts of Texas were suffering through their 59th day of drought - a record.

In Nevada, 59 days without rain is not usually called drought. It's called "summer."

I guess it's all in what you're accustomed to. You don't miss your water until the sky goes dry.

In North Texas, 59 days without rain is a catastrophe. It's making national headlines - $595 million in losses to farmers and ranchers, they say - and 153 counties have been declared disaster areas.

I would be tempted to point that "Texas disaster area" might be considered redundant, but I don't want to hear from any Texans.

It has gotten so bad that they can't even seed the clouds, because there haven't been any clouds to seed in Texas. You can tell the government is involved, because they are referring to it as a "precipitation enhancement program."

The old record of a 58-day drought for Texas came in 1934, during the period known as the Dust Bowl years. These days, I suppose, the government would refer to it as a "dirt enhancement program."

I feel sorry for the folks in Texas, because there's no doubt they're suffering. But saying they have gone 59 days without rain didn't evoke that much sympathy from me.

Here's what did: During that stretch, the temperature has gone to 100 degrees or more on 36 days.

Now that hurts.

In fact, as I was checking out some of the North Texas newspapers, I happened upon the Sherman Herald Democrat.

On its Web site, the Herald Democrat posts the time and temperature.

Bad idea.

Time: 7:35 p.m. Temperature: 100.

It's hard to put a Chamber of Commerce spin on that kind of information. I suppose you could call it a sunshine enhancement program. "Welcome to Sherman, where we've had 59 sunny days in a row!"

I accidentally drove through Texas once on my way to New Mexico. It was in the middle of the night. Amarillo seemed pleasant enough.

Now, if I were the editor of a Texas newspaper and were reading about the goings-on in Nevada, I'd probably be taking a different tack.

For one thing, I would note that what they call summer in Texas is known as "fire season" in Nevada.

When I did go outside this week to feel some sprinkles on my face, I couldn't tell if Carson City was socked in by clouds or by the smoke of some part of the Sierra burning to the ground.

As it turns out, there were some clouds - but most of it was smoke.

Kind of hard for the Chamber of Commerce to put a spin on that one, too. "Welcome to Carson City, where smoking is allowed indoors and outdoors!"

Yes, that would be part of our smoke enhancement program.

The other thing to point out, were I a Texas editor, would be that some places experiencing drought or a particularly severe fire season may turn to some spiritual means for help. In other words, they might ask a local tribe to perform a dance or some other ritual in order to please the rain gods.

In Nevada? Nah.

We like to bring in something called "Burning Man," which is apparently a tribute to the gods of fire and drugs.

OK, I'll admit that "Burning Man" takes place about 100 miles from the nearest tree. Nevertheless, it seems that something more like "Water Woman" would be more appropriate to the season.

Let me say that I've never been to "Burning Man," but I've seen the pictures. It reminded me a lot of the end zone at an Oakland Raiders game if they let the fans take off their clothes.

Come to think of it, the people in the Black Rock Desert may indeed be the same people who have season tickets in the end zone at Raiders games.

But the Burning Man festival isn't about the weather at all. It's about bringing 30,000 or so people into Nevada so they can prance around in the desert in all kinds of strange costumes and celebrate their own spirituality and art. Or something like.

It's part of our wackiness enhancement program.

Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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