I escaped from my office for a few minutes today during the audit – the clouds following the front were piled up high over China Doll.
Now, it’s almost midnight (AGAIN!) and it’s time to get back to the number crunching.
Back in November, our area of California (among others) burned. The fires came within a half mile of our house.
Now the next part of the cycle comes, with the winter rains and a possible El Nino year dumping higher than normal amounts of rain on California, causing mud slides, flooding, rock slides, and other problems in the burn areas as they’re no longer protected by vegetation.
But it’s amazing how quickly the hills can turn from black to green again.
The contrast can be stark and vivid. Parts of the hillsides can still be black as night, burnt, and charred, while patches or even whole mountainsides are an almost iridescent green.
These pictures, taken along the 101 Freeway between Camarillo and Woodland Hills (my son was driving, so I got to take pictures yesterday) show other damage such as this, where rock slides have caused temporary barriers to be put up and lanes closed.
I don’t know what causes this phenomenon where the new growth is in a mottled or spider-web like pattern across the blackened hillside. You can see the burnt bushes and trees everywhere, but the green undergrowth along the ground has started to be re-established.
Just a few hundred yards way, the entire hillside is iridescent green, with the black stumps of the bushes sticking up through it.
This is how the cycle continues. As green as it is now, this brush will grow up and over the summer will spend nine months turning brown and highly flammable.
This might go on for ten years or more, the brush and weeds growing thicker during the winter months, green for a few weeks, and then drying up and turning brown in April and May, finally baking itself into tinder by July.
It’s the same with all of these trees – most of them will grow back and become lush again, just waiting for the next brush fired to come through, when they’ll turning into flaming torches, their leaves and branches burning, breaking, and being blown for miles in the high winds, starting new spot fires ahead of the main fire, spreading it faster than a person can run.
That’s the cycle – burn, regrow, dry out, burn again.
Welcome to California. We don’t know what will try to kill you this year – the earthquakes, the fires, the floods, or the mudslides.
Down here in the lower elevations, it’s unlikely to be a blizzard or hurricane.
But wait for it. That could be coming soon as the climate changes unpredictably.
I don’t know if this has officially been declared an “El Nino” year by the National Weather Service (or whoever’s in charge of such things) but it sure feels that way to those of us getting drenched.
In an “El Nino” year, there’s a warm patch of Pacific Ocean water that forms around Christmas time (which has something to do with the name – google it) and the end result is an unusually wet winter in California. We get these “atmospheric rivers” that start funneling huge, wet, relatively warm storms onto the California coast, one after the other for days, one onslaught after another.
Whether official or not, this is what we get:
(I wasn’t driving, thanks!)
At this particular moment, the weather radar looked like:
It’s quiet now, mostly, but there’s a lot of unstable air behind these fronts, and another couple of fronts to follow about every eighteen hours, so tomorrow and Monday look soggy as well.
While this might be beneficial in terms of alleviating our constant water shortages and drought in California and the Southwest states, it’s not so good in terms of the flash flooding and mudslides.
Welcome to California! If one thing doesn’t kill you, it’s opposite thing will!
This is the view from the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Hospital parking lot about 5:45 this evening as I arrived. There are storms coming and it was an interesting view.
It’s an okay view. But it’s the one that got away, the sunset that was FREAKING SPECTACULAR about a half hour earlier.
I don’t have any pictures of it to share.
It was enough so that even in our office it was like being in a giant neon tube. Oranges, reds, pinks, like some sort of Technicolor acid trip from the 1960’s.
But I was on deadline and had to get things done so I could get a FedEx package off and get out on time to get here, so there aren’t any pictures.
Possibly a poor choice of priorities. My apologies.
Los Angeles is hardly turning into a tropical rain forest, but we are in our “rainy season.” There’s quite a bit of variation in what that term means from year to year as well, but this one seems to be tending toward the more rainy, wet, “El Nino-ish” end of the spectrum.
My sense of that could also be skewed by the fact that it rained almost every day in Seattle and Kansas City a couple of weeks ago.
Regardless, we’re looking at a weather forecast that has it raining almost every day for the next six days or so, and we got rain last night and this morning. So it was a pleasure when I came out of the hangar this afternoon to find that the sun was breaking through.
As I was hoping, this in turn led to a nice sunset.
It’s important to appreciate the little things every day if you can. Everything out there doesn’t suck, even if a lot of things do. Find the non-sucky items and embrace them.
For instance, the way the different layers of clouds are illuminated and glowing at different intensities and all different shades of pastel colors.