What’s Up With You?

Strange weather we’re having around here. Two straight days over 100 (plus or minus local micro-climate variation), and then yesterday it was a good thirty degrees cooler.

Not because of any normal weather change. No offshore winds breaking up a high pressure zone or anything like that. This is totally due to smoke from the fires to the north.

I hasten to add that they’re all a significant distance away from us. There’s been no suggestion that we’re at risk, at least from the existing fires*. We’re as safe as we can be in an era where the California state motto seems to have become “Burn, baby, burn.”

* Our vegetation is just as profuse and desiccated as anyone else’s. A poorly timed and aimed firework or discarded cigarette could cause plenty of trouble around here.

But even the smoke was unusual. There wasn’t much scent of burning, and visibility was nearly as good as normal, because the smoke was staying high up.

Really, really thick, though. Thick enough to make 9:00 in the morning feel like late evening, and make 6:00 PM feel like a torrential downpour was immanent. Regrettably, the later was not the case: a heavy rainfall would be a big help with the fires.

Maybe we just need more moisture in the air. Let it condense around all those ash particles, and we’ve got a flood of biblical proportions.

Which would bring its own problems, of course, but we’re used to floods around here. A homey little well-known disaster would be an almost pleasant change.

I did say “almost”.

Though, come to think of it, heavy rains and (minor) flooding would tend to encourage people to stay inside; quite different from outrageously high temperatures that lead people to go to parks and beaches. Solving our social distancing and state burning problems at the same time?

No pitcher is going to sneer at a double-play ball.

The unusual conditions have some of the cats a bit off their feed, but not to the point that we’re worried about anyone.

In short, we’re doing about as well as can be expected in the current conditions. Hope the same is true of you all.

Such Fun!

Congratulations, Northern California!

While most of the US has had exciting weather for the past few years–blizzards, hurricanes and tornadoes, punishing heat–it’s been quiet around here. Sure, we’ve had a drought going for more than five years, but you can’t call that exciting. “Yep, no rain again today. Guess we better hide in the no-storm cellar till it passes.”

But it looks like things are starting to change, and we’re getting a little weather excitement of our very own this weekend. According to the Chron, meteorologists are saying the storm expected to hit Sunday “…is shaping up to be a significant event.”

We’re being warned about flooding in all the major rivers, possibly at record-setting levels in some cases.

OK, so maybe it’s not much for those of you in the soggier parts of the country, but a foot of rain is pretty darn thrilling around here.

Coming as it does after an unusually wet fall–some weather stations around the Bay Area are running as much as 150% of normal rainfall–there’s much rejoicing over this storm. “The drought is over!” goes the cry.

Not so much.

Yes, most of the reservoirs are full and the snowpack is more than 80% of normal levels. (The snowpack provides nearly a third of the water the state uses during the spring and summer, so 80+% is nice to see.) A foot of rain will help, right? Nope.

The problem is that most of what we’re going to get this weekend is going to fall as rain, not snow, even in higher elevations. The snow is thoroughly saturated already, so when the rain hits, the snow is going to melt. A good chunk of that 80+% is going to be headed downhill. And, as I said, the reservoirs are already full.

Thus, it “…could be the most significant flood in six years, and more significant than that in other parts of the state.”

Don’t bother with ankle boots and hip waders, folks. Stock up on wet suits and personal flotation devices.

Stay clear of trees and power lines, try to enjoy the thrills the rest of the country’s been hogging for the past half-decade, and pray that the rest of the winter will be slowly wet to re-replenish the snowpack.