Rain pelts hard, then drizzles off into just hanging moisture — long-overcast clouds this early Monday appear ready to burst here on this little stretch of California’s north coast.
And those clouds do occasionally open, but after a short-quick lashing of big droplets, making big spatters on my back patio, the rain lingers briefly only as a sprinkle, then goes away completely.
I haven’t seen any rainfall totals yet for the area, but for the California coast and its environs, a shitload of water has fallen the last couple of weeks (via the LA Times): ‘It’s hard to calculate. But one weather expert, Ryan Maue, offers this estimate: 10 trillion gallons. That’s enough to fill 15.1 million Olympic-size swimming pools or power Niagara Falls for 154 days.’
And that’s a lot of rain — yet it’s way-uneven: San Francisco has received nearly 11 inches (about 175 percent of normal) this season.
(Illustration found here).
This countered with what’s happening in the “world’s breadbasket” — via Vice last Friday:
While parts of northern California got up to six inches of rain in the last week, nearly all parts of the state are still short of normal, according to the Nebraska-based National Drought Mitigation Center.
All of the state is under drought conditions and over half is in exceptional drought — the most severe category.
Much of the West has been touched by the same long-term drought.
But California — home to nearly 40 million people and a $43 billion agriculture industry that provides about half of America’s fruits and vegetables — is the worst hit.
And while this week’s rainfall is welcome, temperatures are still warm enough that the precipitation hitting northern California on Thursday will fall as rain, not snow.
Most of California depends on the mountain snowpack to slake its thirst.
The snow melts in the spring and collects in reservoirs, some of which are now less than one-third full.
The forecast for this winter is that the drought will ease, but won’t go away.
Dan Vink, general manager of the Lower Tule River Irrigation District in Tipton, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles:
Vink told VICE News the farmers who use most of his district’s water are increasingly relying on groundwater to make up whatever his system can’t deliver.
And when it comes to a landowner’s own wells, Vink can only offer advice, not give orders.
“If you’ve got ground you don’t need to plant right now, it’s probably a good idea not to plant it,” he said.
“We see some instances of land being set aside.
“For other farms, it’s a matter of economics: They’ve got to pay the bills, so they’re going to keep farming until they can’t farm anymore.”
That’s left the local economy “kind of at a breaking point,” he said.
Farmers have begun laying off workers in the surrounding area — and more layoffs are likely to come if the drought doesn’t ease.
“I think there’s a possibility it’s going to increase exponentially,” Vink said.
Authorities will have a better picture by February, near the end of the winter, he said.
Rain comes and rain not come.
In honor, Emily Dickinson’s birthday last week — “Like Rain It Sounded Till It Curved”
Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I new ’twas Wind —
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand —
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road —
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad —
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.
Another Monday, to another week and umbrella to a circular canopy of rain.