Wildflowers are on a blooming binge. Forest mushrooms are in full-fungal flourish. Ferns are growing up to 5 feet high, and streams are actually flowing instead of just trickling.
That’s the scene this week high in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson — courtesy of torrential monsoon rains that have turned parts of the range into something reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest.
Mount Lemmon, the high point of the range, has received 15.67 inches of rain since the start of the monsoon on June 15, said Chris Rasmussen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Tucson, by comparison, has pulled down a mere 2.85 inches in the same period.
“It’s very lush. The columbines and other wildflowers are going crazy this summer,” said Pamela Selby-Harmon, officer in charge of the Mount Lemmon post office in the village of Summerhaven.
“The other day it rained so hard I had a little stream running near the front entrance of the post office,” Selby-Harmon said.
“And after we had a hailstorm on Tuesday, the ground was as white as if it had snowed.”
All that moisture has brought midsummer life to mountain streams, some of which were flowing in a noisy gush this week.
The downpours also have nurtured a bumper crop not only of wildflowers but also of colorful forest fungi — with some mushrooms poking out of the moist soil and others growing on the trunks of downed trees.