In a surprised space this afternoon, the north coast of California is recipient of some soft and gentle rain — the first of the season, but like all moisture nowadays, it sounds good and is wet awhile.
Dark and overcast, the sprinkles sporadic but left a fresh wetness different from fog — a scent of life. A sense you can feel in the air, the wonder of wet particles falling out of the sky, making everybody experience some kind of shift in the mood. And out on the roadways, most likely, not a sense of joy.
After being dry for months and months and months — can’t Google any date for the last rain, but I’d figure some time in early May, maybe — asphalt is real oily, slicky, dicky.
My Jeep Comanche has been down for months, too, so I’ve been walking/busing everywhere, and when you’re just on the feet, you watch/keep track of the weather.
And does seem awhile since the last inkling of rain, which right now makes it a marvel.
(Illustration found here).
Yet still, this shower caught me by surprise — hadn’t been noticing the weather lately due to it being nearly-exactly the same, with some variation, the last four-five months (fog in the morning, bright sunshine and a breeze in the afternoon — and warm. Some gorgeous days were recorded along the coastline here this past summer) — and only caught the heads-up at Lost Coast Outpost just before a Safeway run.
Adjusted my gait accordingly, there and back.
Although it did appear to rain fairly heavy at some points, the rainfall totals are marginal, at best — less than an inch so far. Right now in the late afternoon, distant thunder in the air, and it’s starting to rain again. We’re forecast for showers tomorrow, too. Then on Wednesday, supposedly back to the norm, but, the next rain is coming much-quicker than this one — hopefully the middle of next week.
We’re in the throes of a three-year drought, and although up here in Humboldt County we’re better off than most of California right now, that really doesn’t say much. And it appears the locals are starting to feel the bite.
One example is the Eel River, a major tributary gushing from the deep-mountains of Mendocino National Forest down to empty into the Pacific, just south of Humboldt Bay — it disappears into gravel about 10 miles short, goes underground about 500 yards before reappearing, a remarkable duck, indeed.
From the Press Democrat last Sunday on Humboldt’s decline into drought:
It’s not uncommon for rivers and streams to disappear under ground for short stretches, but it’s a rare occurrence for the main branch of the Eel River and so close to the ocean, Goldsworthy (Matt Goldsworthy, a fisheries biologist, National Marine Fisheries Service) said.
“Little reaches go dry. Usually it’s further upstream,” Goldsworthy said.
It last occurred at Fortuna, a city of 11,000, in the late 1980s, said state Fish and Wildlife spokesman Clark Blanchard.
The bar at the mouth of the river also closed up that time, he said.
So far, cities and most farmers in the Eel River valley appear largely unaffected by the river’s decline.
Despite near historic low flows in the Eel, only minimal, state-mandated water restrictions are in effect in towns, and agricultural fields are lush from irrigation operations that farmers in Mendocino, Sonoma and the Central valleys — where drought has made water a precious commodity — can only dream about this year.
Elsewhere in the county, farmers and individuals dependent on wells and springs have reported shortages, said Humboldt and Trinity counties’ Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf.
“This is an extraordinary drought” for the area, he said.
Location is the difference right now, maybe not too much longer if the rivers start to vanish.
A thunderstorm is upon us at the coast right now, and some fairly-heavy rain drops, the pop-n-patter rings deep, and constant.
Long rolling thunder-booms heard seemingly to the south — a sound not heard all that much here at the shoreline. And it seems to rumble a bit longer than necessary — big storm apparently.
My apartment’s gutters and drainpipes create a mellow, comforting sound I haven’t heard for way-too long.
Don’t like thunder and lightning, though, never have, never will.