Thursday, December 10, 2015

Winter is Icumen In

               November 2015. BK photo

The first series of winter storms is blowing through the North Coast.  We had some decent rain in November and early December, but this is officially the start of the rainy season: the first power outage.  (The second came as I was finishing this post.)

today--Dec. 10, 2015
The first was last night hereabouts, though there were and are other outages around today.  Wind and colder air stirring up modest lightning and thunder along with the rain. A tangentially winter-related cause (Caltrans preparing 101 for the oncoming storms ripped through an underground fiber optic cable) also deprived we ATT customers of Internet and cell phone service for most of Wednesday (although Mike got through on the landline, sounding better than ever.)  So for an hour or so last night I wore a biker's light (like a miner's light) strapped on my baseball cap to read like a print on paper thing, what do you call that again?

The most disturbing thing about the Internet outage was trying to find a news report on the radio with an estimate at least of when service might resume.  At 10 p.m. (or more precisely between 9:55 and 10:05) I could find not a single local news broadcast on either FM or AM band.  AM had a lot of talk radio (sports, religion, right wing blather) and the only news on FM was from the BBC!  On at least three notches on the "dial."  So in a real emergency here, when only battery-powered radio is an information link, we're screwed.

What's especially interesting about these storms--which have been hitting Washington and Oregon much harder than us--is that they are not yet El Nino caused, according to this LA Times report.  El Nino, which is apparently still growing in strength, won't directly influence our weather for several weeks yet.

What has happened is that the early winter precip pattern has returned to pre-drought functioning.  The ridge of high pressure that built up in recent winters hasn't formed this year.  It was one factor blunting storms last December.  Although we've been getting one good month of rain each winter (at least that's what I recall) we haven't had the "rainy season" pattern of old.

one of the new rain barrels today
But with the climate crisis effects, nothing is "back to normal" anymore, and the storms in particular are unpredictable by past experience.  As Seattle and Portland could tell you after the earlier storms that wreaked destruction there, including flooding and landslides.

Here, the old duck boots have already come in handy, the Gore-Tex rain jacket and pants, the contents of the backpack in an extra layer of plastic.  If the rains become as relentless as they were in our first winters here--the last big El Nino--then I might have to hunt out my old full length black poncho, for a rainy season Darth Vader look.

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