First Rain

Weather forecast at about 8:00 this morning, October 17, 2021 (which is incidentally the anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake).

According to the weather forecast from this morning, as illustrated above, rain should start to fall at any time, now that it is after four. It is delayed by about two hours according to the current forecast. Clouds are already here, with more arriving over Bonny Doon.

This first episode of rain is not expected to last more than three hours, with only a forty percent chance of rain for the last hour. It will not be much. Nonetheless, it will be the first of the rainy season. More sustained rain showers are predicted for Wednesday, Friday and afterward.

Some of us who enjoy such weather are pleased with the first rain. It freshens the forests and home gardens, and can be a good excuse to stay inside and cozy by a warm fire and under a dry roof.

Those who are not so pleased with rain are aware that it is how seasons progress here. The weather is excellent for most of the time, but for a few brief months annually, it gets cool and rainy. Such cool and rain weather is unpleasant for those who lack the option of staying inside and cozy by a warm fire, or under a reliably dry roof.

That is why so many within our esteemed Community provide tents and tarps for those who lack domestic situations. Such provisions can not solve homelessness, but can make it a bit more bearable for those experiencing it. Fortunately, there are not as many who need such provisions here as there had been only a few years ago.

It will be a while before the rainy season ends next spring. Until then, some degree of damp and uncomfortably cool weather are will be unavoidable. Our resourceful Community will do what it must to contend with it.

Autumn 2021

Wednesday, September 22, will be the first day of autumn. The nights have been getting a bit longer and a bit cooler for a while already, and will continue to do so for a while more. The rainy season could begin at any time. Although days begin to get longer on December 21, the first day of winter, weather continues to get cooler through the early part of winter. Indian summer may or may not delay the inevitable prior to November.

Most of us will spend more time inside as the seasons progress, perhaps with a fire in a stove or fireplace. Walls and ceilings retain warmth. Roofs exclude rain. The cooler and wetter weather of autumn and winter is generally not a serious problem. It is an asset to gardens and forests, and temporarily relieves the anxiety of fire season.

However, for those who lack walls, ceilings and roofs, the impending cooler and wetter weather can be very unpleasant. Options for generation of warmth, and the retention of such warmth, are both limited. Exclusion of rain may necessitate the use of obtrusively visible tents or tarps, which draw attention to already precarious situations. Those who reside temporarily within the dry spaces below bridges might be displaced if substantial rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of the associated creeks or river.

Several families who formerly inhabited homes that were destroyed by the CZU Fire last summer will continue to inhabit their respective properties without their homes through this autumn and winter. Some inhabit campers or similar vehicles, which are significantly more comfortable than tents. Regardless, houseless lifestyles of any sort are certainly not easy. Some who were deprived of their former domestic situations by the Fire are unable to inhabit their respective properties, so needed to relocate, even if just temporarily.

Evacuation Warning

It just never ends here.

Many people lost their homes to the CZU Fire last summer.

A few homes were damaged or destroyed by trees and debris that were blown down by strong winds early last week.

Before all the damage could be repaired, and all the mess and clogged drainage could be mitigated, the rain started.

Now, an evacuation warning has been issued because wind and rain predicted for Tuesday night is likely to cause debris flows and perhaps flooding within or downstream from areas affected by the CZU Fire.

It seems to be so unfair that homes, which we expect to be reasonably safe and secure, can be so vulnerable.

We all know the risks associated with living here, but such risks do not often affect so many within such a short time.

In fact, the CZU Fire was the most destructive fire in local history, and involved the most significant evacuations.

Those of us who lack homes must contend with the risks associated with living here as well. Just as rain is a problem for anyone who can not repair a damaged roof in a timely manner, it is a problem for anyone who lacks a roof. The current evacuation warning is unlikely to affect locations inhabited by those who lack homes, but flooding of creeks or the San Lorenzo River might.

Most of those who had recently been deprived of their homes have fortunately procured residency elsewhere, even if just temporarily. Very few lack adequate shelter here. Of those who do, some inhabit sites that are close to water. Those who are in situations that will likely be inundated as creeks and the San Lorenzo River rise need to relocate. This will not be easy in the rain.

Fortunately, rain is not predicted for tomorrow (Monday).

Rainy Season

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree appreciates rain.

December 13 is the birthday of our dearly departed friend Steven Ralls. His ‘Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree‘ that was planted on May 2, for the third anniversary of his passing, is doing well, and likely appreciates what transpired overnight. Now that it got the opportunity to disperse roots through its first season in the ground, it will receive no more supplemental irrigation.

Such irrigation will no longer be necessary. The tree is a native Monterey cypress, which survives on annual rainfall, within a locally limited season. It was only occasionally irrigated through its first season, while it was busy dispersing roots. It should do well without any such intervention next year. Now that the rainy season started, the soil will not get dry until late next spring.

Yes, it is now the beginning of the rainy season here. The second small storm passed through early this morning and continues as I write this. The first arrived on Friday night. A minor prior storm was something of a lone stray, and did little to disrupt the naturally dry weather pattern that had persisted since late last spring. Now, more rain is expected for Wednesday afternoon.

For most of us with roofs, rain will be an asset. It sustains the forests and replenishes the aquifers. This year, it will rinse away the ashy dust deposited by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. For those without roofs, rain, although appreciated, can cause significant problems. Prior to the CZU Lightning Complex Fires, very few homeless people resided here. It is not as simple now.

Sadly, many local residents lost their homes to the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. Although most are now residing in homes, even if just temporarily, some are not. Many are still cleaning up the mess where their homes had been. Rain will obviously complicate such unpleasant tasks. Furthermore, debris flows, which become more likely as rain continues, are now a major concern.

The end of the fire season at the beginning of the rainy season is no consolation for those who already lost their homes to fire.

No Rain

January 22 is the date of the last locally recorded rainfall. That was three and a half weeks ago. There is only about a %25 chance of rain predicted for next Sunday, a week from today. That does not seem too promising. The probability for rain might decrease just as easily as it might increase. Even if it does not change, there is a %75 chance that there will be no rain next week.

Also, temperatures have been unseasonably mild lately, with no more frost expected for the season. In fact, temperatures are not expected to drop below the mid 40s at night anytime soon. Daytime temperatures are expected to be in the upper 60s. Although it would be unrealistic to expect this weather to continue through this last month of winter, it sure feels like spring now.

Flora in the region is expressing its appreciation for, or confusion from, such excellent weather. Acacia dealbata is in full bloom, implying that stone fruit trees will bloom soon too. Apples and pears bloom shortly afterward. Unfortunately, resumption of wintry weather could ruin early bloom and fruit set. There are risks and consequences associates with such delightful weather.

The lack of rain necessitates irrigation of lawns, landscapes and gardens, which is more work for those of us who live in homes. For those of us who lack homes, the same lack of rain negates the need for waterproof shelter. Mild temperatures that are comfortable for those who lack a home to heat at night are potentially detrimental to the fruit that others grow in their gardens.

No one can change the weather. It would be futile to complain abut it. Those of us who can benefit from it should appreciate it while we can. We know that winter is not done yet.

Rainy Season

The first storm since spring left more than an inch and a half of rain by the time the sun came up on Wednesday morning. Rain that started with the second storm that arrived this morning, and is still falling as I write this, is expected to continue through Monday, followed by showers through the foreseeable forecast. The dry summer is over. It is now officially the rainy season.

Are we concerned about those lacking adequate shelter? Well, of course we are. It is terribly uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to be out in the weather when the weather is like this. Those who live out in forested areas are vulnerable to falling limbs and trees, as well as potential flooding. While cold and wet, it is more difficult to recover from illness, or just avoid illness.

However, the situation is not as bad as it could be, or as bad as it was years ago, when there were many more of us without homes, and lacking resources. This season, there are fewer of us lacking shelter than there have been in a very long time. The same resources that have always been available are still there for those who need them. More of us have resources of our own.

We must still watch out for each other. This is just the beginning of what will become a more difficult rainy season. When it does not rain, it will likely be cold. That is just how weather works. At least we happen to live in a relatively temperate climate. It does not get as rainy as Western Washington, or as cold as Minnesota. We will get through it as well as we somehow always do.

Perhaps, this year, we will get through the rainy season even better than we typically do.

9%

Wasn’t that what the forecast was? There was a 9% chance of precipitation over night? I know it is difficult to say. With all the modern technology available for such predictions, such figures change constantly. Regardless, most of us don’ t take a 9% chance of precipitation seriously. It rarely means anything, and even when it does, it is rarely more than a few drops off the eaves.

Realistically, what came through early this morning was not much more than a few drops off the eaves, but it was enough to remind us of what time of year this is. Pleasantly warm and dry weather is predicted through the week. In October though, the weather can be expected to slowly get cooler and wetter. It is impossible to say when it will rain next, but we know that it will.

Fortunately, there are very few of us who presently lack shelter. Those of us who are living outside are reasonably outfitted to do so. If necessary, tarps and a bit of dry bedding are available from where they are stored. We can always get more. Homelessness is not easy, particularly as summer becomes autumn, and then winter. We do what we must to get through the weather.

We are also very fortunate to live in such a remarkably compassionate Community, and within such a mild climate. The resources that are available to those of us who might need them are provided by others in the Community, most of whom live in homes and are inexperienced with the difficulties of homelessness. Not many Communities are so generous and compassionate.

Of course, the climate helps too. We need not contend with the severely cold and snowy weather that other regions experience during winter. After the earlier drizzle, the sky is already clear.