Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The 2015 May Miracle for Drought-Stricken California - Another Broken Promise ?

Oh goody we're saved because the Press Reports say so. Okay, well, maybe not! 
There is a Rock n Roll group from the 1980s called Big Country who actually wrote a song, "In A Big Country" that I've always thought would be a classic descriptive theme song for the Southern California plant community. I'm serious, listen to the Song and read the lyrics here >>> (Music Video) "In a Big Country"  The opening lyrics however more accurately describe the period of broken promises of rainfall over the dying chaparral hillsides that have developed since 2010 and which I also have witnessed first hand last Summer 2014 when I came back for a visit. The opening lyrics goes like this:
"I've never seen you look like this
without a reasonAnother promise fallen through,
another season passes by you"
 At the beginning of December 2014 the stories were already flying across social media of a promise of things improving rainy season-wise. However, a few were more cautious and mindful about what was happening. One individual was Paul Kaiser of Singing Frog Farms in Northern California who referenced a 5-6 inches of rain in three days which brought flooding and ruin to many places in his region followed by no rain for close to 5 or 6 weeks. See, that's just not normal. Many try to compare this drought to the middle 1970s and there is no comparison, because at least then you had healthy aquifers and groundwater levels. Those things are mostly absent this time around.

Earlier this year I was watching a news report video online of heavy rain that hit Lindbergh Field [San Diego's Airport] received 1.84 inches of rain. As usual, most of the reporters from various news groups sent their crews down to Mission Valley to do the Nightly News Report of the late Spring rainfall storm which caused flooding on any number of roads which cross the San Diego River. Seriously, Mission Valley ? In the days before the city's modern infrastructure of concrete, asphalt and roofs, such flooding in Mission Valley would have never have occurred after an average spitting rain storm. Why ? Because the flooding today is nothing more than surface runoff. In the old days the heavy vegetation on the hillsides and Mountains would have allowed such pitiful small totals to percolate as opposed to runoff and flood as they do presently. Traditionally the Lindbergh Field rain total on that day in May 2015 would be a freak anomaly for sure. Historically, such rainy season storms in San Diego only dump an average of say 0.30 hundredths of an inch in contrast with places like Palomar Mountain receiving something like 7 or 8 inches of rain on average from my memory. Oddly enough however, that same May 2015 storm that which supposedly dumped 1.84 inches of rain at Lindbergh Field also tinkled 1.48 on Palomar. That's hardly normal, but that doesn't seem to interest the Press.

Then there were all those other photos and videos showing the folks, "Hey goody, it's snowing in California Mountains, Hurray things are improving after all!!!" Not so fast, most pictures I saw showed nothing more than a mere dusting of snow. Hardly a snowpack build up. Frankly, this year's rainy season has been another joke in California, but the officials were trying to put a pretty face on it. Anyone with half a brain and an understanding of the historical weather patterns from this region over the decades would understand that the last few months of this season have been no different than the past four years. Like all the other years of drought, long hot days have characterized the lull in between storms. All a person has to do on their own is check the recorded temperatures for the area which were often warm or hot. Storm totals themselves in all geographical locations have also not been consistent with past storm precipitation coverage. Ultimately, no amount of storm total has provided any type of reasonable percolation to what is needed for restoring and satisfying the traditional requirements of subsoil moisture levels for sustaining even the native chaparral plant community. The talk of El Nino saving the day rings hollow. Any positive slant from the Press coverage is for effect anyway, which by rule doesn't necessarily have to deal with the truth of a matter, just sensationalism for ratings which in itself offers more money from advertising. The reality on the ground there in Southern California is that things are going down hill, but especially in the wild. People within the cities are simply letting their landscapes die off because the water provided, while it's still available, is just too outrageously expensive to maintain the landscape. In the back country mountains of Southern California last year, I saw scenes of dying pinyons and junipers I had only ever seen in photos of New Mexico & Arizona.

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey: Craig D. Allen

"These photos show the kind of massive forest die-off that is projected to occur more frequently in the Southwest. Piñon pines, normally evergreen, have reddish-brown foliage in October 2002 (left). By May 2004 (right), the dead piñon pines have lost all their needles, exposing gray trunks and branches. The photos were taken from the same vantage point near Los Alamos, N.M. Forest drought stress is strongly correlated with tree mortality from poor growth, bark beetle outbreaks, and high-severity fire."
And so what are the present state of affairs now for all life in  Southern California at present ? Prolonged record Heat Waves and Wildfires seem to be the new normal as they say. There is really not much more for me to say or explain as folks anywhere can simply watch the Nightly News Reports and verify for themselves what is happening throughout the west and all the way up north to Alaska and the Arctic. Here below are a collection of the popular wildfire headlines making all the global news reporting.

Wildfire on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River on the Sula Complex in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana

"In a big country, dreams
stay with you
Like a lover's voice
fires the mountainside
Stay Alive!"

Keep Yourself Updated on Wildfires 2015 "Incident Information System" 
2015 Google - California Fire Map"Canadian Wildfires Produce River of Smoke"

Washington Post: "Over 300 wildfires are burning in Alaska right now. That’s an even bigger problem than it sounds" 
The subject of almost 400 fires in Alaska is a topic all it's own. The acreage burn has reach over 1.7 million acres of land area. That is mind boggling when you consider that most of the Press coverage on the spectacular fires in and around city urban areas within California have often reach over 200,000 which is considered huge. But Alaska is up there in the Arctic reaches. It's not supposed to be in the 80+ temperature region. In May it was warmer there than many places in Arizona. Most fires up there are not even being fought as there are no resources and manpower. What effect does all that release of massive amounts of CO2 from burning tundra have on climate up there ? What will the black soot have on the ice packs up there ? Again, more and more questions that have no real answers.
But wait a minute, what about 2015 Monsoon Season to the Rescue ??? Or maybe not!

This first map is for the 24 hour period that ended
at 6 a.m. MT on June 30
Lightning as opposed to rain has been hammering parts of California, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, and Nevada during the last two days, especially on Tuesday and Tuesday night. The maps below show the strikes that were detected as well as the approximate amount of precipitation that came along with the storms. The black areas indicate no rain, while red means there was less than 0.08 inch. The first map above is for the 24 hour period that ended at 6 a.m. MT on June 30. The second map below is for the 24 hour period that ended at 6 a.m. MT on July 1. Spooky, very spooky. Monsoon season is starting out as more of a curse than blessing. - Courtesy Bill Gabbert
This second map is for the 24 hour period that ended
at 6 a.m. MT on July 1

Navajo People . org
Most Californians are oblivious and a bit ignorant as to  the actual scientific factors of what's going on. The News Media doesn't really help either. Everybody wants to imagine it's all some kind of temporary weather phenomena or anomaly that will eventually self-correct. Even many who do believe in climate shift or disruption. Most people are interested in preserving an accustomed standard of lifestyle, whether or not their favourite sports team wins next years finals. Looking beyond next weekend's partying adventure is about as far sighted as most are willing to look into the future. As long as water flows from the tap, they are mostly unconcerned about where it originates from. Even the politicians know what keeps them in power and that is the economy. Even when they often claim to be on the environmental side of things, not one of them is going to sacrifice their political career by sacrificing the economy for ecology. So don't look for any real improvement any time soon. In the historical past there were always little blips of what would happen when human civilization mismanages the landscaped vegetative environment around them. Aztecs, Romans, Easter Islanders, Anasazi, etc, etc, etc. Droughts eventually took a toll on their economies, but at least then it was a localized regional phenomena. Now it's global and there is not a hiding place on Earth that isn't effected. There are no viable solutions for reversing things and even many of the sciencey types who insist that science will just find a way, will often conveniently push to the back of their minds that it was originally the misuse and abuse of science that got us where we are in the first place. No amount of specialized eco-activism of pushing and pressuring politicians for more laws and regulations are going to make a difference. Laws, Rules and more regulations are nothing more than further opportunities for companies to break laws or finding and using loopholes in in the regulations. This unfortunately is a domino effect that cannot be reversed. I appreciate no one wants to hear that, but ask yourself, why do you still support a system of governance that allows such a global degradation to continue ? 

Suburbia Collapse -

"I thought that pain and truth
  were things that really mattered
  But you can't stay here with every
  single hope you had shattered"
Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook  for July & August 2015

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for September & October 2015

This year's (2015) visit in September to Southern California should be interesting for San Diego & Riverside Counties. It was last year when we were greeted by wildfire in May. The El Nino predictions and Pom Poms celebrating have thus far turned out to be a joke. Mainly these reports are meant to quell fear and smokescreen the reality of what we see on the ground. In Southern California I'll be so bold as to predict another major disappointment for Southern California where I come from. There will be no changed improvement for the better for the 2015/2016 rainy season and that will be very bad for nature. The late comedian Chris Farley beautifully illustrates the El Nino saviour hoax on Saturday Night Live.

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