Now that it's winter, our workload is greatly reduced, and I try to fill my workday with other things to keep me occupied. (It's more of a challenge this year than last, since our office manager moved desks and now sits behind me and could see what's on my computer screen.) The other day, I wasted time on Google Earth. I was inspired by a news story about warm arctic temperatures, and I pondered what far northern Canada looks like.
Well, seen from above, it's a mass of white. Then, I rotated the Earth to look at Antarctica. It, too, is a mass of white, but I learned that it reaches an elevation of just over 12,000 feet above sea level. Then I started pondering the elevation of other areas. I know that the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque, NM top 10,000 feet, but what about my house?
The driveway (I chose the driveway as a uniform point for multiple sites) is at 5,963 feet, which just goes to prove that Denver might be a
mile-high city, but it isn't the only mile-high city. My friend in Socorro, NM (hi, Betty
!) is at 4,603 feet, and my condominium parking lot in Las Cruces, NM is at 3,895 feet.
We've dropped 2,000 feet so far, and I'm not done. I looked for where I last lived, in Tulsa, OK. It's only 730 feet above sea level. How low can we go? The driveway of my childhood home in Cherry Hill, NJ is at just 38 feet. (If the world floods, bye-bye childhood.)
Would anything else flood? I've frequently wondered why, if my condominium is in the Chihuahuan Desert, and on the second floor to boot, I have to have flood insurance. According to Google Earth (and this is just scratching the surface of what I could learn), it's just 1,300 feet to the railroad tracks (after two or three days, the trains won't wake you up any more). That's about three (American) football fields, including the end zones. However, it's 13,600 feet (2.5 miles) to the river. Aha! The elevation of the river is 3,893 feet, just two feet lower than my parking lot. I could see then (at least in calculations) how the parking lot could flood if the river rose. Still, in reality, for the river to rise two feet and
stretch 2.5 miles to the east would require a Biblical amount of water. (I suppose I could calculate how much water that would be, and then compare it to the water held in Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs upstream, but I don't want to bother with that much effort. Just coming up with this blog post was enough.)