More than a Dry Spell

Lake McClureLiving 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. 

Crazy stuff!

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?

 

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20 thoughts on “More than a Dry Spell

  1. I live in California and have witness the devastation of the lack of rain. If you take the time to talk with the farming community, they will tell you the growing season have shifted a month on both ends. Add that to the fact the fire season has started early and that is yet another issue. It is a very large worry. 😦

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  2. I know all about water restrictions. I’m moving to Texas next month and it always seems they are under water restriction. Every time I talk to my family there they are complaining about the lack of rain or talking of wild fires. Some states need to share the rain they get to those less water fortunate ones lol.

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  3. Hi Tim,
    It is more than a dry spell. I was seeing on the news a few days ago… massive fires in San Diego… the scenes looked like something from what Armageddon may look like.

    Great question: “What’s going on with the weather?” With it out of control, I think they can expect greater soil erosion leading to more massive landslides, and due to lack of rain – even more fire.

    The entire coast giving way to a massive seismic shift in the tectonic plates is not a matter of if, but when. A friend of mine lived through the Northridge quake and still has bad memories of it.

    I’ve seen and smelled the aftermath of Katrina, as you referred to. It looked like a bomb went off. I went soon after it happened and took a team of volunteers there a second time to gut houses and hand out supplies. I can only imagine a similar scenario for California.

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  4. So very true, Tim. The weather has been so severe and so unusual in virtually all parts of the world. Here on the Canadian Prairies, we’ve just experienced the worst winter since 1873! I certainly hope that will not become the new norm.

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  5. With such huge fluctuations in weather patterns it absolutely floors me that there are still so many who will state that the Earth is fine and dandy and global warming product of the liberal media. I just got back from a weekend in Sante Fe. It made me realize that even though Boise is also high desert, it’s not nearly as dry as things are in New Mexico. Even with more and more droughts, it still seems like people aren’t doing much to be frugal with water.

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    1. I think it will end up being one of those commodities that will always be taken for granted until a price is placed on it. Encourage people to utilize rain water.

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  6. I am on the East Coast and I have never seen a winter like this one. It snowed every three days. For the last several years we really haven’t had much in the way of snow and really got spoiled. The weather has finally changed and it is getting warmer. I hear we are going to have a very hot summer. We will see.

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    1. I have relatives who live on the east coast and friends in the Midwest. Got pretty much daily reports so know exactly how bad it was…at least from a spectators vantage point.

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  7. Hi Tim, I live in the land of the desert. We love it when we get rain in Arizona. We do a little rain dance. I am also From Michigan and have dealt with bad winters. No fun. It seems that the weather around the world is unpredictable. Mother nature has a mind of her own. I do not like when Mother nature is too the extreme and hurts other people. I love San Fran Cisco! Thanks for the great interesting post!=)

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  8. It is truly crazy and sad that there are still, easily led or heavily vested, science deniers out there. The evidence is in. Climate change is real. How long can we continue to sell future generations to a life of shortage and resource grabbing just to satisfy this generations current greed?

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    1. I’m with you Jonathon. Being from NZ I experienced water shortages as a kid. Not much fun. My sister who lives in Perth experiences them on a regular basis.

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  9. hi tim; we went through this in the houston area two years ago. lake conroe near my house was just that low. It was partly due to the drought but more due to the fact that the city of houston owns th water rights and were draining th water off to prop up their reservoir and we heard about your drought here because we were told that it plus the decision by the federal government not to release more water would result in crop failures that would be felt in higher food prices next year. hope the water settles down soon. take care, max

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  10. Crazy Tim, yes, I didn’t hear anything about California’s water issues! Here in s. France the weather has been quite wet over the winter but beautiful these Spring days. And what’s the latest in Australia?? I remember when I lived there how hot and dry it got, producing terrible bush fires. Great to hear your explorations are international as well as domestic!!!

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