Is it time to build a boat?

I am always surprised when I turn on the nightly world news and find local coverage. But I suppose our storms have captured attention for the drama of a weather event that has us shaking our heads. We simply aren’t prepared for this much rain and snow.

California isn’t the only state affected by the latest series of storms, but it would seem to me that we are perhaps the least prepared. Rockslides, sink holes, uprooted trees, flooding, and even as I’m composing this post the rain has stopped, at least for now, the sun is out, but the winds have picked up and every few minutes something is uplifted and blown across the yard with a thud.

This time last year we were digging up the sod in our front yard and planting drought tolerant natives. Our water rationing will continue going forward, but for now our water table is surely replenished. Unfortunately, we have relative to our population and usage, few state-wide water collection reservoirs so much of this precious liquid is ocean-bound!

We live in the San Gabriel Valley, so lots of hail, but no snow. However, our proximity to the San Gabriel Mountains places us less than ten miles south of the foothills. Most winters we might see a slight dusting of snow that lingers less than a day. That’s typical. What is unusual is not just the amount of visible snow but seeing the entire range covered with snow, even at lower elevations. This has likely happened sometime in the past, but I have lived here my entire life and I have no distinct memory of any winter quite like this one.

I’ve been taking photos right and left, but they fall far short of capturing the impact I can see. Everywhere I went today people were stopping, even one person in an intersection, pulling out their phones and trying to take it all in.

If you’re reading this from the experience of someone living in a region accustomed to blizzards and freezing rain–an abundance of rain–you might be thinking this all “much ado about not much.” 

Perhaps. But our general infrastructure, including public works, is not designed to handle the impact. The mountain roads are impassable, meaning people both living and vacationing in the mountain communities are stranded, and necessary supplies of food, medication, and gasoline (for generators) is not coming to them. 

Trees have been uprooted, even in our area, and homes have been red-tagged. The flooding in parts of the state has been devastating for some. So my perspective of admiring the unusual beauty is tempered with awareness that we have been fortunate. 

I have a good roof and a warm home, unlike the unhoused. Statistics shift, but a recent article mentioned that California has nine times more unsheltered people than Washington, the state with the next highest number (115,491 people compared to 12,668.) The thought–or maybe it’s an excuse, has been that our temperate climate makes it easier for people living on the street.Big topic I can’t even begin to address, but I can attest to the recognition that the last two weeks have been brutal.

Mid-February we were enjoying a warm three days on the Central Coast, walking along the beaches and eating at some lovely outdoor spots. I wore a sweater some of the time.

These photos are evidence of the calm before the storm. Next post I’ll be sharing more about this area and what keeps bringing us back.

Much is being written about the modern science of awe as neuro-scientists report positive experiences with awe increasing feelings of satisfaction and sense of meaning.

Maybe that’s what I’m sharing here. I have been saturated, not so much by the rain, but by a sense of awe. I appreciate that you’ve let me share it with you. Be safe!


42 thoughts on “Is it time to build a boat?

  1. It’s undeniably interesting, Deb – but I don’t actually like it, in spite of my ticking the box. Global warming seems to be affecting you lot more than most other places: dunno if that means you’re affecting it, but I suspect we here Downunder are still the worst offenders. 😦

    • I definitely share your concerns. As you might imagine, as the conversations about this latest storm system move across the country the political sparring really gets going. I am dismayed, but if it isn’t too late, young people like my intelligent and socially aware granddaughters are going to inherit this mess, but they also don’t live in denial. This morning a state of emergency was declared for the mountain areas, so those poor stranded people are going to get some help. And today the sun is shining. It’s cold, but very cheerful! Thank you, my friend.

      • Indeed, it’s going to take the youth of today to make headway in the sea of troubles they’re inheriting from us, the poor little buggers. 😦

  2. I hope you stay safe! Our winter has been wonky but in a different way. Very little “winter.” Two minor (very minor) snow events with less than 2″ each, gone the next day. I wonder what the summer will bring.

    • I’ve been following your mild winter, Kate. Weird! We aren’t personally too affected other than it’s awfully cold, and I feel unprepared. And I do worry about the trees a bit. The sun is shining this morning and I think we are expecting a couple of days before more rain may come through. And the mountain areas are being helped this morning by the National Guard. That situation was getting a little dire! Spring is coming and I would imagine you’re looking forward to it, too! 🙂

  3. Up here in Reno, we had I-80 closed for almost two days due to the storms. This is for a road built to be, “All weather.” But the amount of snow we got here just overwhelmed everything. I’m told I live in a desert, but this morning I shoveled about 3 inches of snow off my driveway. The first couple of years I was here, we shoveled once or twice a winter. This winter it’s be almost every week out there. Our weather just seams to be turning more extreme.

    • That’s so interesting about the increase in snow in Reno, too. I’m sure your snow is part of the same system that has whipped across California, and I’ve been so aware of how we are all connected. We knew that, of course, but it at least feels like the storm systems are stronger and I note the patterns across other states. Those who don’t want to talk about any climate change effects point to specific historical records, but many of those storms were once in a hundred or more years. I feel like the frequency with which we note changes is just a harbinger of what is to come. I am always interested in learning about other “geographies,” so thanks so much for sharing your experience, Andrew.

  4. We’ve been having similar weather, although I live by the coast, so no snow :). I am happy about the rain but that wind has definitely overstayed its welcome. I’m worried that the new buds that were forming on my citrus and blueberry bushes will be blown off.

    I love the central coast area – we were there last September – so I’m looking forward to your report!

    • Oh Janis! I hope your citrus and blueberries will not lose their buds in this cold and wind. I’m concerned about some potted begonias I did finally move under cover, but it’s just so ridiculously cold for those plants. It may take several months for them to rebound. We’ll all see what we’re left with when it warms up! We didn’t personally experience any snow either, but the San Gabriels are so impacted and the cold is filtering down. I don’t have clothing for this climate. LOL! Thanks for sharing, my friend. 🙂

  5. As someone far away from your area, your weather over recent months has been a shock to the system of many …. but that shock is nothing compared to what the people of your area have experienced. Hang in there … Besides, I know you’ll get through this. After all, rain to landslides to plant growth to drought to fires. It’s the California Cycle! Question …. Has the rain and snow increased the reservoirs?

    • Yes, Frank, the reservoirs are replenished, as I understand it, but we’ve also lost a lot because we can’t as a state get our act together for building more reservoirs or water capture plants. The “water wars” that have plagued California for 150 years just continue. This storm system has taken much of the state out of the “extreme drought” phase. The snow pack is incredible, and if it doesn’t melt too quickly, that will be a wonderful boon for this year at least. I’ll try to remember how much I’ve complained about being too cold when we have our first 110 degree summer day. 🙂

  6. I can quite understand how your state struggles to cope with the weather, as I even see it here sometimes too…. surprisingly perhaps! People seem less prepared than in the past, where it was just considered normal winter weather here. In addition, media hype nowadays makes an inch of snow into a major issue, but it shouldn’t be in a country bordering the Alps! We haven’t had much this winter in my region, just annoying icy spells and brief snowy interludes. Your mountains do look beautiful, but I hope it warms up for you and that the people stranded can be helped soon.

    • Thank you, Cathy, for sharing about your milder winter. It’s like Mother Nature got her instructions mixed up and none of us know how to act in accordance. You’ll appreciate my angst about my garden. The new areas with the natives are just fine. But I have a lot of very large potted plants, including begonias and a few tropicals, and they aren’t looking too well! I did what I could to protect them, but it has likely n to been enough. We’ll have to see where we land and do our repair work! 🙂

  7. It’s the abrupt changes that bewilder. One minute it’s a Spring day and the next howling Winter. I can’t bear to think of life on the streets, Debbie, even here where it is allegedly mild. Hope it calms down soon.

    • It’s very true, Jo, that the abrupt changes have been unsettling. The poor people stranded in the mountain areas never anticipated a storm system that has been brutal over a couple of weeks. So when they began to run out of supplies and there was no way to leave their homes it was troubling. I’m sure that won’t happen again, as people will begin to institute new proactive habits before winter sets in again next year. No more surprises, perhaps! And yes, our homeless situation in Los Angeles County is really bad. And it isn’t like it goes unaddressed. Many cold weather shelters were put in place, but likely that only addressed a small fraction. It’s a big problem! Thanks for stopping by, dear Jo.

  8. May you always keep your sense of awe, which goes both ways? Admiration as well as bewilderment when we watch ignorance at work. 🙂
    I remember when we lived in Texas. Once in a blue moon, there was ice and snow and it literally put life on hold. They weren’t prepared. There were no plow trucks, and of course, the cities and communities didn’t spend millions to harbor salt for the streets. Most Texans had never seen snow tires, and even if they did, they didn’t know how to drive in ice and snow.
    The ski resorts I called my stomping ground when I was young, are all in trouble. Switzerland has dismantled a few lifts this year, and other famous skiing places have now fake snow.
    Global warming is real, and if you asked me, it will change life on this planet drastically over the next 30 years.
    Was it always like this? I suppose!

    • Bridget, thank you for sharing about the conditions in Switzerland! I have learned form another German blogger and a few European accounts that the winter was “mild,” but I didn’t put it all together to recognize the potential impact to snow fall. That bothers me from the perspective of economic impact to those world-renowned resort areas, but the larger concern, as you mention, is the effect of climate change/global warming. It is such a divided and political debate, as we hear, but some of us who have lived on this planet a long time can see with our own eyes that things are changing. And your Texas experience definitely reminds me of California. Here in SoCal it’s almost funny. Even a day of mild rain creates problems because it’s so rare, driving is a nightmare. I think we as people like to think we are a lot more resilient and adaptable than we actually are!

  9. Dearest Debra how well you picture the wonders of nature here in socal. Thank you the combination of photos and insights! Thank you!

  10. The winter of 1968 was also very wet in SoCal. I remember it very well. Here, we just had a quarter-inch in the last hour. Had to go out and unclog gutters. Big fun. And I really identify with your gratitude about the good roof and warm home. I say “thank-you” several times a day, especially on days like this one. I used to live up on the edge of Mr. Baldy, at the very end of Euclid Avenue, so I’m familiar with that country.

    • Oh Wow! I didn’t know you’d lived near Mr. Baldy, Jim. You’re very familiar, then, with the current circumstances. A state of emergency was finally called this morning for the San Bernardino Mountain cities and the National Guard is being sent in to help. It was getting pretty dire. I can remember times of this much rain, rarely, but I have some memory, but I don’t think it’s ever been this cold over such a long time. “Ever” may be too strong, but at least I don’t recall! Those of us with all that we have to keep us safe, warm and protected should be thankful and full of gratitude ALL the time. Thank you for sharing that, Jim. Be safe cleaning those gutters!

  11. You’ve had some amazing and awe inspiring weather out there this winter. When I saw shots of snow on the HOLLYWOOD sign, it caused me to pause.

    Also, I can’t imagine being “stuck in the foothills” due to the roads being made impassable by water, mud, rocks, and snow. That would be very scary especially with food, water, or energy concerns.

    Stay safe. PEACE!

    • I’m glad you saw that picture of the Hollywood sign, Nancy. I saw one this morning, and it really captures the cold! I’ve been a little concerned about some of the trees that have been upended, but the other issues are less of a concern in the valley where we live, although I am really looking forward to being warm. I am someone who rarely complains about the heat even in the summer, but I will try to remember that when it hits triple digits. LOL! The stranded mountain communities are getting help this morning from the National Guard, so I think some safety will be restored. I’ll bet it’s beautiful in Florida today?? 🙂

      • The weather is beautiful here. The house is open with a lovely breeze. We went for a bike ride – not too hot, not too cold, just right!

        Yay for the National Guard helping out!

    • I’m also glad to know that you are well, Rosaliene. It’s quite a show, though, isn’t it? The sunshine this morning is sure welcome, and I’m sure you’re enjoying it as well! 🙂

  12. Yes, it is good to know, that you are well, dear Debra. I am fortunate here in Australia that no natural disaster has been interrupting my life so far. But I too, keep thinking about it, how many people in Australia and elsewhere have been made homeless because of natural disasters and changes in the weather.

    • I am of course very glad to know that you are well, Uta. It is a rare day that we don’t hear of devastation from natural disasters worldwide. I am not in any way feeling insensitive to the people deeply affected by these recent storms, but on the same night that we watched news coverage of some of the worst of the flooding we were also following the horrible aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. I think it pays to be aware of perspective. Today the sun is shining, and the mountain communities appear to be getting some help. I hope you continue to do well, dear Uta.

      • I hope you continue to do well too, dear Debra.
        If I keep well for a bit longer, I might in due time celebrate my 90th birthday. It is coming up next year on the 21st of September! 🙂

  13. Water, snow, and moisture are so much needed in California, wish they had a few more water collection reservoirs. Many years ago, people said that the weather changing pattern had become violent, look at it now… Worrisome, say the least. It has been nice and warm in TX so far, but there is a warning of hail, high winds, tornadoes later today.
    Thank you for the update and the beautiful images, Debra. Hope it will warm up soon for you.

    • As I’m responding to your comment a day later, Amy, I am indeed hearing about violent storms in Texas. I hope you are not in that particular path! I borrowed your word, “violent,” and hadn’t been using it before but it is so apt! That’s exactly what we’re seeing as weather patterns change. It is worrisome! But today, yes, we have some sunshine and it is very welcome. All that beautiful snow isn’t going to last too long and I hope it can percolate into the aquifers!!

  14. The whole situation gets me thinking of Snow in San Anselmo by Van Morrison😅 We’ve had reports on the UK news – – and I must say I was expecting your post! But I missed the initial publication; only finding it today😒

    Firstly, stay safe and stay warm! Then put extra food out for the wildlife! And take more photos of course😅

    Your point about most of the water taking the shortest route to the Pacific because there is no infrastructure to hold it rings true of our own experience with a privatised water industry here in the UK – no investment to counter drought or population growth and heaven forbid that they should spend money replacing worn out Victorian pipes. That money belongs in the CEO and Shareholders pockets😒

    Homeless people suffer badly whenever the weather takes a turn for the worse. When governments show a lack of moral fibre and fail to help them it always falls to charities funded by individual donations. But times have been very hard for many people and donations dry up leaving those outside of regular society to suffer. It doesn’t help either when governments cut back on health funding – that leaves the professionals less able to assist those in need, especially the ones on the streets.

    Enough of my griping – Thoughts with you from a chilly but dry London👍

  15. Every time I read about the latest extreme weather in California, I think of you Debra so I am not surprised to read your post and glad to hear you are safe and well. I remember the winter 74/75 when I lived in Berkeley and we had snow. There were accidents on the hills in San Francisco and at least one heart attack for someone shovelling snow. Judging from the general reaction at the time, this had been a very rare event.

  16. I confess I loved seeing the San Gabriel mountains with snow on them. I can count the number of times I’ve seen that in person on one hand, but oh my gosh, the poor people stranded up there! Hope the melting is controlled — is there such a thing?

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