Currently, the sun is shining brightly through my home office window, as we’re enjoying a short respite from the deluge we’ve been experiencing. Here in SoCal there hasn’t been quite as much moisture, but the central and northern portions of the state are getting hammered. The table below shows just how dramatically our fortunes have improved since a year ago and, particularly, in just the past week. There’s more rain in the forecast and we’ve still over two months to go in our traditional rainy season.
Drought Conditions in California Improve Dramatically
People like Pat Robertson, and others of his “deep” religious conviction are quick to claim “The Lord” is punishing us when bad things happen. Perhaps they should consider recognizing, if that is the case, then we must conclude God is now rewarding California for rejecting Marmalade Mussolini last November. Surely The Lord is even-handed in both punishing and rewarding us for our aberrant, as well as our compliant, behavior.
To appreciate just how much our conditions have changed, here’s a screenshot of the State’s major reservoirs. Note how many are near or above their historical average. This doesn’t translate directly into replenishment of our depleted water table but, with an increased snowpack and more precipitation on the way, we’re at least moving a long way toward normal conditions. I expect an awful lot of people are going to continue their water conservation efforts regardless of this reversal in our fortunes. Californians are recognizing how precious fresh water is, and how easily it can be hard to come by if we continue using it unwisely.
Less Than a Month Ago These Reservoirs Were All Below Their Historical Average
it’s marvelous – and ominous – at the same time. While much of the United States has been enduring extreme cold temperatures and hard Winter weather, those of us on much of the West Coast (certainly here in Southern California) have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather. I think it’s been in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties for at least a month and we’re now approaching the “dead” of Winter with no end in sight.
Another week of unseasonably warm Winter weather
If this continues, it does not bode well for those of us who live in this neck of the woods. The reason. Drought. According to the California Department of Water Resources, we are now into what may be the third year of drier than normal conditions. They point out it’s a bit too early to conclude this year will be as dry as the previous two, as half of the previous years that started out this dry ended by catching up to normal at the end of the season. They also point out, even if there’s plenty of seasonal rain, it still won’t compensate for low soil moisture and depleted water storage.
So . . . while we’re enjoying the weather here, especially when contrasted to what the Polar Vortex has wrought to our East, it’s important to keep in mind what it means in the long run. It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change, anthropogenic or not. We are now into our third year of drought in the West, and this wonderful weather may come at a far higher price than I care to contemplate. There’s no reason to brag about it.
The Three Trashketeers in Their Previous Incarnation
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the two basketballs and the hula hoop my youngest daughter and I had spotted in the flood control channel we passed each day on our walk to her elementary school. We named them Wendy (the first basketball we noted), Haley (the hula hoop accompanying her), and Oliver Boliver Butt (the basketball that joined this duo a few days later.)
It is with a note (not really a profound one, but a somewhat dismayed note) of sadness I am compelled to inform all that the Santa Ana winds, which were pretty fierce about a week ago, have blown, Wendy, Oliver, and even Haley closer to their final destination.
Molly the duck, and her companion, Junior had – of course – already moved on, being animate objects and all. We looked for them each day but there must not have been enough excitement available for them to stick around.
Unless someone comes along to clean the channel (or the river, which is where they will soon be), they will eventually make it out to sea and join – perhaps – with all the other flotsam and jetsam littering our Pacific Ocean.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss them . . . already do.
Wendy the BBall seems to have been joined by a relative. Say “Hi” to Oliver
I quite recently introduced you to a new friend my daughter and I encountered on our way to school. We see her every morning and have chosen to name her Wendy, partly in honor of Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) friend, Wilson the volleyball. Shortly afterward, I discovered Wendy had a couple of friends (Molly and Junior) and I shared a picture of them and added a little commentary about our walks together. Forgive me if I seem repetitive. I’m old and haven’t been out walking in decades (except for golf courses, but even that’s been a while) and it’s getting me all flustered, I guess.
As we were walking to school today we discovered our semi-stationary friend in the storm channel seems to have a new friend; perhaps a close relative. We have chosen to name him Oliver (for Dr. Seuss fans, his full name is Oliver Boliver Butt). Molly and Junior were visiting when we first passed, but when I took this picture on my return trip home, they were nowhere to be found. Wendy seems to have also encountered the company of Haley, the Hula Hoop, not to mention what seems to be a growing collection of various and sundry plastic accoutrements, all of which will be washed out into the ocean if they’re not cleaned up prior to the next rain storm.
Perhaps I should bring it to the attention of one or more of my local Facebook groups. I know there are frequent forays into what passes for a river through our fair city. I’ve walked it myself as a Rocketdyne volunteer a few years ago, picking up plastic and other things that don’t belong there. I sure wish people weren’t so damn careless with their trash. Makes you wonder if they occasionally take a crap in their kitchen or living room.
Almost every school day, starting with this semester, I now walk my youngest to school. It’s only a half mile, so I get a nice easy workout of a little over a mile. Inasmuch as I’m 66 years old and have been sitting behind a computer for the better part of three decades, I need to ease into any workout I engage in. A mile is just about right for me. It also gives me the opportunity to have some quality time with my almost 10-year-old.
Wilson’s long lost cousin resting on her ever-so-slow journey to the Pacific
We walk holding hands and talking about things. Mostly, for some odd reason, she loves to ask me questions about my preferences; sometimes total non sequiturs such as “Would you rather have pancakes or be a Zebra?” I have to admit to being somewhat of a fan of the ridiculous, but her questions sometimes disturb me. Yes . . . me.
We live in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood and the walk is actually pretty boring. On the other hand, it’s nice to slow down and actually see the houses, gardens, etc. in the area, something very few of us do when we’re in our vehicles. Every once in awhile I see something I want to either remember or share and there’s one thing we pass on the way to (and I pass on the way back from) her school. I expect it will remain where we see it until the next good rain, as it’s in a storm drain and there’s very little water flowing through it right now.
I’ve come to think of this item—pretty sure it’s a basketball—as the long-lost cousin of one of the stars of Cast Away, the Tom Hanks film where he creates a companion, Wilson, out of a volleyball. I thought I would share a picture of her. She truly looks forlorn to me and I feel the need to assuage her fears of abandonment whenever I pass by now. I wish her well in her journey, and I wish to hell it would cool off . . . and rain already.
All Levels of Yosemite Falls
I was careful not to disclose our location on Twitter recently (well, at least not too blatantly) as I didn’t want anyone figuring out where we lived and coming by and overfeeding our cats or tropical fish. Yosemite Valley was a great place to spend five days camping with two other families, despite the fact the first evening and night were cold and wet. We arrived on Thursday evening and set up our tent in a light, continuous rain – managing to keep reasonably dry. Unfortunately, we immediately discovered we had a couple of minor leaks in the floor and were not able to repair them enough to keep a few small puddles from forming.
Normally, the sound of rain falling can be quite soothing for me, but that night it kept me awake most of the night. It was coming down hard and I was sure the tent would be flooded or something would collapse and we’d be inundated and miserable for the rest of the trip. The following morning I discovered it had actually hailed during the night, which explained the ferocity of the sounds I had heard at times. Fortunately, though there were some leaks in the tent, for the most part we remained dry through the seemingly endless, cold night.
The following morning I was awakened by what sounded like an elephant pissing outside our tent. I heard our friend’s voice and, being tired from my lack of sleep brought about by anticipation of our tent’s imminent collapse during the rain, I chose to ignore it. I learned later the rain had collapsed the center of an older EZup canopy and the only way it could safely be emptied of the large quantity of water it had managed to accumulate was to take a knife to the center and cut a slit in the canvas. Hence, it was actually the EZup that was pissing. There truly are no elephants in Yosemite Valley, I’m pleased to report.
At any Rate, we had a great time and I just wanted to share a picture of the entirety of Yosemite Falls, which I took with my BlackBerry. I can’t believe how good it came out!