Interesting facts about the Sonoran Desert:
- The key to the Sonoran Desert’s climate is the amount of rainfall which falls. More rain falls on the Sonoran Desert than any other desert.
- This is the hottest of North American deserts, but a distinctly bimodal rainfall pattern produces a high biological diversity.
- The Sonoran Desert is home to 60 species of mammals, more than 350 kinds of birds, 20 amphibians, around 100 reptiles and over 2000 native species of plants.
- It contains a variety of unique and endemic plants and animals, such as the Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) and Organ Pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi).
- When the desert is windy, the sand gets picked up and tossed around which creates a sand storm or if the wind is blowing in a certain kind of way, it creates a whirlwind or dust devil.
- Water accumulated by the mountains drains into rivers that cross the desert, creating corridors of riparian vegetation even during dry times of the year.
- Many plants not only survive, but thrive in the harsh conditions of the Sonoran Desert. Many have evolved to have specialized adaptations to the desert climate. The Sonoran Desert’s biseasonal rainfall pattern results in more plant species than in the other North America deserts. The Sonoran Desert includes plant genera and species from the agave family, palm family, cactus family, legume family, and numerous others.
- The seasons are like any other. Spring is a time when flowers bloom if the winter and fall had enough rain that year. There is summer and in the summer it rains the most and that helps summer flowers grow. Then fall comes with a cooler breeze, which lets the deserts summer heat wear away. Winter brings snow to the mountains and cold air to the desert valley.
I finally got down to Oak Creek Canyon to check out the slide fire damage yesterday. It turns out that the fire started exactly where I last visited with friends.
The top photo of this set was taken one week before the slide fire during one of those rare, 20-minute Arizona rains. The green is lush and damp.
The following photos depict the same spot, viewed from above after the fire. It’s quite the contrast, charred black and lifeless. (You still have to sneak around forest service patrols to get down to the water, but the damage can be seen from the road.)
The sad part is that the canyon wall was just a wick to the top, where it spread to more than 20,000 acres. You can see in some of the photos that the fire burned through so quickly that some trees are burned at the bottom, but still have needless and cones at the top.
West Fork Trail following the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon