I have spoken of the rich years when the rainfall was plentiful. But there were dry years too, and they put a terror on the valley. … The land cracked and the springs dried up and the cattle listlessly nibbled dry twigs. … People would have to haul water in barrels to their farms just for drinking. Some families would sell out for nearly nothing and move away. And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.- John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I read that often quoted passage from John Steinbeck in a KQED article (KQED is the Bay Area’s public radio station) describing what is now being coined as “Marin storm”- yet another atmospheric river similar to that we experienced in late December. Now, however, I’m in the middle of the action- the North Bay- and not watching the youtube videos of San Franciscans falling in giant puddles on their bikes from the parched desert of Bishop. I had a great deal of fun today battling the winds while cursing myself for deciding that biking down the steep hills of the city during a storm was a good idea (now that I’m all cozy and safe, I realize it was a most excellent idea- so much fun) and getting totally lost while accommodating to my new neighborhood (a trip to Trader Joe’s became a prolonged epic adventure). We are getting plentiful amounts of rainfall , but man oh man it is definitely warm! This can be good, as warm air tends to bring more moisture, but in terms of our dismal snowpack this is bad business- snow will likely only fall at above 8000 feet, not really helping our terribly low snowpack numbers. Snowpack is our lifeline during the summer; as we deplete the reservoirs, the slowly melting snow is supposed to recharge them. During a good year, this works. However, the typical climate of California isn’t at all stable and often has cycles of prolonged drought- most of the state is a desert, after all, a fact many forget as irrigation has turned the arid land green. Climate change is expected to make the temperatures warmer and intensify droughts. Rain, when it does fall, will fall more like in the events we are currently experiencing- all at once in a matter of days, followed by long periods of dry, hot weather. I fear that many Californians will use this storm as evidence that we are emerging from a drought when really we are only sinking deeper into its hold- I fear that Steinbeck is probably right.
As I sit here listening to the winds battering my window, I’m going to send some virtual hope out there for the temperatures to cool down so that at least a little bit of measurable snow will fall. Surely, though, I welcome the pattering of the rain against the window and the fast howling whistles of the wind that shake the walls- a change is always nice. Now, let’s hope for some cooler temps.- Sunday Feb 7
.CLIMATE...RECORD BREAKING WARMTH IS POSSIBLE FROM MID TO LATE WEEK.
NOAA forecast discussion for the SF Bay Area, Tues Feb 10
Alas, as I continue this blog post on Tuesday night, I am sad to report that my hopes and dreams were not only dashed but crushed into the dirt by what is known as a high pressure ridge that is currently moving in to sit its ass on top of the entire state. The storm brought much needed moisture after a literally entirely dry January (first time this has happened in much of California in recorded history) but this ridge is now bringing record temperatures forecast for this week; it is supposed to hit 77 in Yosemite over the weekend. This means, whatever little snow actually did fall (and didn’t fall as a slushy mix of rain and snow, which the majority of it did) is probably just going to melt right away.
Sigh. Trying to focus on my New Year’s Resolution of not bitchin’ about things I can’t change, nor letting them affect my mental health. Just to be clear, I don’t mean to complain about the weather- it is stunningly gorgeous out there every day and I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the country right now (seems like it is freezing most everywhere else)- but I worry for the health of our ecosystems, the sustainability of our current water management practices and the stability of our ever-growing society.
Good news is, I’m all settled in SF and am loving it. I’m outside all day for my job in this beautifully devastating drought weather (today I chilled at the Presidio Bluffs all day, with a perfect vista of Marshall and Baker Beach as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, and yesterday I had fun at Redwood Creek in Marin – even saw a coyote , always a perk). Most importantly, I feel like I will be making a small impact every day and will be learning a LOT about ecological restoration, specifically in terms of best practices in urban green areas around the Bay Area. In climbing terms, I am starting a power training routine at Planet Granite. (I hate to admit it but I have missed having an indoor gym!) I also have a network of trails right outside of my apartment – tonight I ran through a mud-soaked trail and emerged from the canopy of Monterey cypress (yes, invasive- but oh so pretty) and saw the sunset over the Pacific. I also have been enjoying the perks of city life- definitely hit up the farmer’s market this weekend and indulged in my norcal foodie habits. Yes! I do want that organic, locally produced variety of (your vegetable/fruit choice here) !
I gotta say, though, biking up those hills on my way home from work is kicking my ass!
Things are looking up, now let’s continue to do some rain dances and hope that the temperatures go down!