Author Archives: Debra

About Debra

As a native to Southern California I'm interested in the history and geography of the region, with particular attention to how the demands for water have shaped an entire region. I am eclectic in my interests and closely follow history, but with an eye on the future, enjoying as much time as possible with my two granddaughters, children and railroad husband Jay. You may be more interested in getting to know me through stories of our large Sulcata Tortoise, Darwin. We are a very active household.

So what is an atmospheric river?

We’ve had rain. Lots of it. After multiple years of drought I’m doing a happy dance.

Puddles under the canopy of our huge oak tree thrill me. We had been told that the more than 100-year old tree was showing early signs of stress and that for the first time in the over forty years that we’ve lived here we needed to begin watering it–very hard to do with  mandated water restrictions. I imagine she is drinking deeply with our water tables experiencing some overdue relief.

The “scientific” term cited last year to the off-shore weather pattern contributing to the persistent drought condition was —THE BLOB,  warmer than average ocean temperatures off the coast of the western United States. The “blob” was so strong it off-set any benefit we anticipated from El Niño.

I’ll leave it up to you if you’d like to read more about how this “ridiculously resilient ridge”  contributed to the blob– HERE.

So why is there so much rain? Today I read that we are reaping the precipitation benefit from three atmospheric rivers .

“Atmospheric River” is this year’s overused meteorological term.  In past rainier-than-typical seasons credit was given to a  “Pineapple Express.”  If I were a California meteorologist I’d throw out a new term every now and then, too,  if only to spice things up from the “dry and sunny” monotony.

We aren’t building arks yet in Southern California, but parts of Northern California and Oregon have experienced some flooding and greater problems from too much sudden rain.

After seeing the dead and dying Sequoias this past fall in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks I am hopeful the rain is producing some benefit.

img_7467I also thought about these young adventurers caught in the act of playing and foraging within Sequoia National Park.

We were so lucky to see two black bears ambling just a few feet from the paved viewing area. Once again I find myself singing the praises of the National Parks System with the dedication to preserving wild landscapes. I hope a very wet winter replenishes the area for all the animals that live within the park.

This past fall we found the entire Yosemite Valley  very dry. By comparison, take a look at this.

And there has been more rain since this video was taken.

I recently read an article that actually proposed the theory that with global weather patterns in flux California’s future could be “relieved” of its dry patterns and instead experience yearly flooding.  Last year the prediction was that we may not see rain for several more years.

I think we’ll just enjoy this winter with the surprise of rain and simply wait to see what happens next!