Thursday, October 08, 2009

Storm Coming In

The heat of summer is soon to be a distant memory. This is an "El Nino" year in California, which means torrential rains during the wet season (Oct-Apr).

This coming Monday the weather service is predicting the first storm of the season, and it promises to be a wallopaloozer: 60mph winds, up to 8 inches of rain spread over 2 days.

As dramatic and potentially hazardous as that is, I really see it more as a reason for hope: California has been in a moderate drought for a number of years, and the copious rains of an El Nino year are great news for that.

But also, the beginning of every rainy season in California is somewhat analogous to Spring in the "4-seasons" parts of the US: it is the season of new life. The oaks, laurels and madrones are becoming stressed at the end of the dry season, the grasses are long-golden and rattle dry in the wind; the creosote and ceanothus bushes are looking pretty twiggy and dessicated, the creeks have slowed to a few pools and trickles, and a fine layer of dust coats the leathery leaves of summer-dried eucalyptus up on the ridgetops. It is as if nature is crying out for rebirth and renewal.

But just lately there has been a hint of humidity in the winds, as over the horizon in the Pacific the autumn rains prepare to break at last through the last ramparts of summer heat and overrun the mountains and fields with blessed, long-missed rain.

[Update: now may be close to 10 inches in some areas. Yeesh.]

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