Monday, February 20, 2017

DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

Rain…rain…rain…glorious rain for drought-ridden California!

Our  multi-year drought may well be coming to an end -- at least as far as surface water, streams, creeks,  rivers, lakes, reservoirs, mountain snow packs are concerned.  

Some experts say we shouldn’t be too optimistic, too soon.   Not only do we depend on surface water, but underground are aquifers, some shallow, others extremely deep that fill more slowly.   Our towns and cities are drawing increasing amounts of water from the aquifers, depleting them, due to more irrigation and industrial use.    

They say some agricultural areas may never completely recover to pre-drought levels.   Ground water will stay low leaving some wells stranded causing increased pumping costs for years and maybe decades.   

There are even more long term effects on California’s forests which have been depleted of water.   Warmer temperature trends continuing could permanently alter the ecology.  Populations of native fish eliminated will need years to recover since their ecosystems have been altered by the drought. 

We’re told we should think of California as a dry place with permanent water shortages.   Landscaping designed to not require a lot of watering is needed.  Conserving and not wasting water needs to be our way of life.  Increasingly, this may be true in other states, too.

But rain is not wonderful for all .....

Snow welcomed in our Southern California mountains has seen a couple avalanches burying skiers ….

Hikers requiring helicopter rescues.

All this rain, which is predicted to continue through this month, in our normal rainy period, has brought disaster to many. 

The drought all these years dried so much greenery. 

Fires consumed more -- stripping ground cover from the mountainsides. 

Mudslides ensued – threatening lives -- necessitating evacuations.   Some homes destroyed – causing family heartbreak.  

Huge old trees uprooted, falling on cars, homes, and even a few people, as tonight’s news reports a young girl found by her family under a fallen tree when she didn’t arrive at a neighbors to walk their dog.   She's hospitalized in critical condition.   

A few sink holes developed -- consuming houses or vehicles such as a van and car in last night’s news – but both drivers rescued. 

Floods – sweeping cars away -- causing others to be stranded – needing rescuing. 

Unfortunately, in all these events there have been some injuries and a few lives lost. 

My immediate community has not incurred instances of high winds, water devastation, uprooted trees, as far as I know.  Only ten minutes drive west, mud slides from fire-stripped mountain sides have been a concern for several years -- with every rain they have evacuation alerts.

More rain is coming that I welcome here, but I hope others are spared tragedy. 



21 comments:

  1. Those of us who live in areas where water is not in short supply are spoiled and have little understand of what it's like to live under restrictions and worries about droughts, mudslides and fires. Thanks for letting us see the issue from a view on the ground, from an average person living the life.

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    1. Having lived many years of my life in the Midwest Great Lakes area where there was an abundance of water, I, understand what you're saying. Our first home there years ago had a well and a cistern which could present water concerns sometimes even where lots of rain.

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  2. We've had heavy rains recently and although the PNW is known for being rainy, it isn't always. An inch of rain all at once can be a mess and 6" in a short period of time takes our creeks and rivers out of their banks. When we get really bad flooding, like California is experiencing, it's usually too fast snow melt. Living on a creek, we keep a close eye on what is happening.

    One thing that is crazy about desert regions like California and Arizona where we have a second home is the big lawns. Many are learning to go to xeriscape to cut back on the water use. Golf courses are using more recycled water, but to try and make a desert into what is natural in wetter areas is bound to be a problem as the populations rise.

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    1. During the years we lived in Phoenix/Scottsdale area, I, too, saw a proliferation of golf courses covered with green grass requiring excessive amounts of water. I was impressed many homes had desert landscaping. There has been a significant increase in more appropriate desert/Mediterranean climate yard landscaping in my Southern California community.

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  3. I have good friend that had to evacuate her home and stay with her daughter for several days due to that northern dam flooding. Weather can be a very testing thing.

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    1. Hope your friend's home ceases to be threatened by the northern California dam flooding. Another storm coming in as I write this with our news naming other dams that may have weaknesses. Other states are wisely taking a second look at older dams in their areas to determine integrity -- much as concern about so many bridges across this country may be in need of refurbishing.

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  4. Wow
    Water is in abundance here. I'd read of California's challenges. Good to hear landscaping is being modified to embrace reality.

    I loved California the two times I was there. 😎

    XO
    WWW

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    1. "The climate of California varies widely, from hot desert to subarctic, depending on latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast. California's coastal regions, the Sierra Nevada foothills, and much of the Central Valley have a Mediterranean climate, with warm to hot, dry summers and mild, moderately wet winters." Wikipedia descriptions.
      "Southern California contains several different types of climate, including Mediterranean, semi-arid and desert, with infrequent rain and many sunny days. Summers are hot or warm, and dry, while winters are mild, and rainfall is low to moderate depending on the area." SoCal has been the last to begin to recover from the drought.

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  5. Unless it rains more than normal during the forthcoming monsoon in India, many parts of South India will face unimaginable difficulties. The North East monsoon has already failed and farmers are in dire straits. Some unusual rain will be very welcome here.

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    1. We'll hope those areas in India receive the rain they need. Wonder if their situation is attributed to climate changes vs periodic dry years?

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  6. My contacts in the U.S. Forest Service in the West have been sending lots of signals about current and future forest destruction as temperatures rise generally. That causes destructive agents such as bark beetles to move north out of their normal ranges. Millions of trees have been killed in the past few years, and probably more devastation is to come. Fires follow severe insect and disease attacks. Sad situation.

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    1. Yes, even where I live in So Cal, in a "tree city" we are having new insects attacking our trees that we must combat. Am sure you are aware of the loss of one of Northern California's ancient famous Sequoia's -- the Redwood that cars could drive through.

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    2. I might note also. as a news report now that an old huge tree has fallen on a Pasadena house, experts tell us we can expect the possibility of trees uprooting clear into July and August -- a consequence of our rain, the drought.

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  7. I wonder why people build homes on the edges of hills where erosion takes place or in areas that are lower than sea level and/or prone to flooding. It seems to be asking for trouble. Some areas of our land need to be left to nature and not encroached on by humans.

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    1. I certainly agree "Some areas of our land need to be left to nature and not encroached on by humans." We resist in our town, keeping builders from encroaching on the mountain hillsides above us. I think of generations-old New Orleans, "lower than sea level" and how to address that situation. Often generations have passed with no danger in the areas, or newcomers arrive quite unaware of the situation and no provisions prohibiting living there. Cities may have had no zoning laws and no obvious soil clues of washes, for example, as I recall Arizona's famous Paradise Valley near Camelback Mountain in Phoenix/Scottsdale area, and the so-called "100 year floods" that literally came through the front door and out the backdoor in some of those expensive homes in the early '70s. Some people are just more willing than others to take known risks than others in order to live in unique and special areas, I guess. As sea levels rise with climate warming, icebergs melting, both of our coasts will place many landowners in the position of living in disaster prone areas they would never have expected -- if not in our lifetime, eventually vulnerable -- especially including NYC/NJ/FLA. Don't know what the prognosis is for the Great Lakes and areas there.

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  8. Growing up in California, I remember these winter storms and how exciting they were. This seems worse.

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    1. They seem to be in many areas, but, so far, not so where I live for whatever the reason. I recall a year in the past when there was such a heavy long downpour the street was full of water at the top of each curb from side-to-side of the street. I was starting to feel a bit uneasy, but water never got higher.

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  9. I am so grateful to hear that California is getting rain -- or at least those of you getting "good rain". It seems to me that there are a lot of issues, too, that are so challenging like the mudslides, floods and sinkholes. I'm glad you're OK and hope that those with some real issues will get some help as they bail out.

    I wanted to thank you for coming by the Marmelade Gypsy and your supportive comment on my piece on the press. So appreciated. It sounded as though you have been in the trenches as well in the past, so hats off to you. Onward.

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    1. We're waiting to hear an official pronouncement about our drought's status following rain received this week and more to come in a few days.

      I highly recommend readers visit your blog, especially to read the blog piece on the press -- a perspective of someone on broadcasting's workings.

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  10. I see photos of the flooding over there in California. All that rain. Wow.

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    1. Yes, we've been a little wet with some areas of state receiving more than they want. The hope is water has been lowered enough on our sunny days behind some of the dams of questionable integrity to allow them to hold more water to come.

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