Living in California in 2014 has meant coming to grips with the fact that the world’s weather systems have gone off the rails. While we punched our way into the history books with record-breaking temperatures and clear blue skies, the other side of the country was being hit by a polar vortex.
I’d never even heard of such a thing before this year!
Storm followed storm. The east coast and Midwest found themselves buried under feet of snow; people had to add extra layers to their layers of clothes in order to stave off the freezing temperatures.
The lakes and ocean shorelines froze. Cabin fever set in and people waited for any sign that the long freeze would come to an end. I saw a photo taken from the inside of someone’s house. Upon opening the front door they were greeting by a wall of packed snow!
Even in the south the city of Atlanta was thrown into chaos as a snow storm blasted them out of their comfort zone to the point where thousands abandoned cars on the highway in an attempt to get home.
Over the last few years we have seen hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunami’s, blizzards, volcanic eruptions, mud slides, flooding, fire. Not to mention the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, melting of the polar ice cap, deforestation, fracking, and liquefaction.
Many of these natural disasters happening in areas not normally affected by such events.
While Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean flooded; California went dry.
For months we heard about how water restrictions might be imposed. How reservoirs were getting dangerously low and how skiers were more than a little bummed because they were unable to cut loose on the slopes in the Sierra Nevada; there was little to no snow.
Like many stories that come to us via our nightly news, if they don’t impact directly upon our lives, our attention span is short. Especially in comparison with the span of the actual problem.
Take Hurricane Katrina for example or more recently the earthquake in Haiti or even more recent, Typhoon Haiyan that devastated islands in the Philippines.
Given those examples it is no wonder that the California drought took up little air time outside of its home state.
I live in Northern California but San Francisco was not overly affected.
We absolutely could use the rain to wash the city streets and clean the place up a bit but as far as water for drinking, showering, gardening; we were in a good place. It had not had the impact here in the bay city that it did in surrounding areas.
We had heard about lakes with water levels at 100 year lows but we couldn’t see them from here. That sounds terrible I know but it all goes back to attention span and the lack of it in general.
On our recent trip up to Yosemite we passed by and drove alongside rivers, lakes, and reservoirs that act as support systems; lifelines to the area. Providing water to the millions who live in northern part of the Golden State.
With our bottle of Crystal Geyser lodged between the two front seats we were shocked at what we saw out the side windows of the car. Lakes were almost empty. Floating jetties and boat moorings that once bounced on the water’s surface were now strewn across the lake bed; gasping for breath.
Shrubs and grasslands that once skirted the shorelines were now perched high above; a thick red waistband of barren dirt now separating them from the meager flow of snow melt trickling down from the mountains.
It was another showing of natures fury.
Water restrictions have come into play in many areas. The collection and reuse of water has become a part of life and an overall shift in behavior has embedded itself in the mainstream.
California is looking into the open mouth of its fourth consecutive year of drought. Where others got too much water we got almost none.
What’s going on with the weather?