Many of us are not old enough to remember such strange weather. Flooding comparable to that of the first several days of the year had not been observed here since 1982. For some locations near here, snow comparable to that of a few days ago had not been observed since 1976. Both flooding and snow are rare here. Both occurring during the same winter is much more rare. It may not have happened in recorded history.
Although both flooding and snow were significant problems for some of us here, most of us were safe, warm and dry within our respective homes. Relative to the thousands who live here, only a minor ratio was detrimentally affected. A few of this minor ratio sustained minimal losses, or none at all, merely because they lack homes and an abundance of possessions. However, those who lack homes are nonetheless affected by inclement weather because they are so much more exposed to the weather than anyone else.
It is easy to complain about bringing firewood in, or the cost of propane for heating. Yet, the alternatives are likely worse. A few within our Community lack a means with which to warm their living situations. They neither bring in firewood nor pay for propane, but are exposed to cold weather without shelter within a domicile. Tents provide minimal shelter from rain and, only recently, snow, but are very confining.
Rain is forecast to continue through Tuesday, and then resume on Saturday. Also, the weather is expected to be rather cool, with frost possible for Thursday morning. Fortunately for those who lack shelter here, the weather is relatively mild. It gets rainier and significantly cooler in other regions of America. Also, at this time of year, the weather gradually gets warmer and drier as winter becomes spring.
“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” So is much of the forest that formerly limited the view from here. Much of it is likely on the beaches around Santa Cruz by now. Even a minor flood can do wonders in regard to vegetation abatement.
A bit of rain is expected to continue through much of tomorrow, but it is not expected to be as torrential as it had been. Sporadic rain showers are expected on Wednesday. Otherwise, the weather should be mostly clear and dry. Perhaps the ground below all that pleasant weather will manage to drain a bit before rain resumes.
So far, this winter has not been as destructive as the winter of 1982. It has potential to worsen though. A few vehicles have been squashed by fallen trees near here. A few homes have been ruined elsewhere in the region. We have seen patio furniture and a few pieces of decking float by in Zayante Creek below the confluence with Bean Creek, but have not yet noticed any debris that obviously originated from houses. Plastic debris that remains on the scoured banks includes coolers, trash bins, basketballs, volleyballs, and an odd preponderance of jugs of liquid laundry detergent. With the exception of the laundry detergent, these items are easily claimed by the creeks from backyards.
Not only is this weather difficult for those who already lack shelter, but it also deprives a few more of their established shelter when it is most important. It was discouraging to see so many camping in their cars within the parking lot at Felton Faire while Felton Grove was evacuated. Even though everyone returned to their homes after the flood receded, it could not have been easy. Furthermore, a few of our excellent Community are not so fortunate.
Starting coffee for the crew in the morning is a mundane task, after opening the gates and turning the heater on in our meeting room. Even after the heater has been off for a night of cold weather, the meeting room and adjoining galley are not too uncomfortably cold by morning. I do not give much thought to the unusually rainy weather right outside. After all, the rain is outside, and I am inside with coffee and a heater.
There is not much view from the window in the galley. The yard below is storage for several dumpsters. It is surrounded by a fence and the Memorial Grove. A busy road and associated bridge over Zayante Creek are just beyond that.
Since New Year’s Eve, some of us have been watching Zayante Creek from the window in the galley. The water is normally barely visible. Because of the storms, it had risen to within only a few feet of the yard downstairs on a few occasions. It will likely be about that high again by morning.
The bridge is prominent within the center of the view from the window. Under its closest corner, on this side of the road and on this side of Zayante Creek, I can see a site that had sometimes been inhabited by unhoused neighbors. It would be very unpleasant to be out there now, in the cold and damp weather, and also dangerous as Zayante Creek rises again overnight. It is very muddy there after getting submerged earlier.
I do not consider that much though. Instead, I remember how homey it was when friends lived there. Although it was not as comfortable as where I now observe it from, to more than a mere few, it was more comfortable than being out in the rain. Furthermore, it was where some people really lived, even if merely temporarily. They did much of what people do in homes, as if homes were unnecessary luxuries. Although I do not party like most, I attended a few celebrations there. I directly witnessed the extreme generosity and graciousness of others of society who had no business under such a bridge. Regardless of how pleased I am that almost everyone who had been unhoused back then presently resides within comfortable and stable domestic situations, I also miss some of how it was in what now seems to be history.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! The first day of it was certainly better than the last day of last year. It was so clear and sunny, and completely opposite of the torrential rain of the day earlier. The San Lorenzo River and Zayante Creek flowed at normal levels, without indication that they flooded less than a day ago.
Earlier flooding and mudslides were reminders of the potential for instability of stable domestic situations. Most homes within Felton Grove are elevated above such floods, but were evacuated nonetheless. Vehicles there needed to be parked elsewhere. A few roads nearby were blocked by erosion or fallen trees.
More storms are predicted for next week. Now that so much soil is becoming saturated, such storms could contribute to more erosion, mudslides and fallen trees, particularly in conjunction with wind. Additional flooding could also be possible.
Even if familiarity with the risks associated with living here is no deterrent, it makes such risks no easier. Evacuation is difficult. Flood damage or worse is even more difficult.
In some ways, such difficulties are more difficult for a few of those with more stability than for those with less. After all, such difficulties are much more likely to cause more substantial loss for those with more to lose.
Those who lack stable domestic situations may be very inconvenienced by severe weather and flooding, but they are somewhat inconvenienced regardless of the weather. Although most who reside within stable domestic situations are not even slightly inconvenienced by severe weather, a few may be severely inconvenienced, and some even lose their home entirely. It is how some people become unhoused!
Stability is generally preferable to instability. It is never absolute though. We all assume risks associated with living here, and do our best with what we have to work with.
Winter should continue for more than a month and a half. It certainly does not seem like that now. Weather has been so pleasant and dry for so long, with no rain in the forecast.
Such weather has both advantages and disadvantages for the ecosystem here. It inhibits proliferation of vegetation that provides fuel for the following fire season. However, it also accelerates the desiccation of the minimal vegetation that develops, which advances the onset of the fire season. Regardless of the fire season, much of the native vegetation will be distressed by inadequate moisture if significantly more rain does not develop prior to the end of the rainy season.
This weather also has distinct advantages and disadvantages for those who lack shelter. Rain is obviously unpleasant for those who lack a roof, so a lack of rain has certain appeal. However, the weather gets much cooler at night during dry weather, which is quite unpleasant for those who lack warmth and insulating walls.
Although fewer people lack shelter here nowadays, and although the climate is relatively mild here, it is difficult to not worry about those who must contend with unpleasantly wintry weather for the next month and a half.
Fortunately, the pandemic that the rest of the World has been so concerned about has not been a very serious problem for the local homeless Community. However, common cold and flu viruses have been circulating at a normal rate. Such illnesses are difficult for anyone afflicted by one, but are even more so for those lacking shelter and the ability to be warm and comfortable during recovery.
Some who currently lack shelter here will likely procure domestic situations within the next few months. Such possibilities may not seem like much help now, but they are cause for pleasant anticipation.
Rain is forecast to possibly begin after noon on Tuesday, and possibly continue for a few days. Although the forecast is not definite, with only a chance of rain for most of the next few days, rain is likely for Wednesday. It is no surprise. It happens at this time of year.
Within the context of my other blog of horticultural topics, I write about weather as an asset to horticulture. Plant life needs it. Some prefer warmer weather to cooler weather. Others need more of a chill through winter. Some can survive longer than others without rain. Others want more moisture. Various plants require various combinations of weather, but they all need some sort of weather.
People are very different. We do not need any particular weather. We can enjoy weather while it is pleasant, but can choose to not do so. Furthermore, if weather gets to be too unpleasantly cool, warm or wet, most of us can find shelter in which to be more comfortable than we might otherwise be outside in the weather.
A few of us lack the option of finding adequate shelter when the weather gets to be too uncomfortable, such as it will with the rain that is forecast for the next few days. As the terminology defines, the homeless lack homes.
Fortunately, the local climate is relatively mild. The weather does not get as cold as it does in other climates. Cold weather generally does not last for too long. Nor does rainy weather. Nonetheless, just a few hours of mildly cold or rainy weather can be unhealthy or even dangerous.
Fortunately, not many people lack homes or shelter locally. Nonetheless, one person without shelter during potentially unhealthy or dangerous weather is one too many.
Weather often contributes to the unpleasantries of homelessness.
Autumn will capitulate to winter in about two weeks. December 21 will be both the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. After a month without rain and only slowly cooling temperatures, the weather will continue to cool and likely get cold at times, with significantly more rain, as the days slowly lengthen. A bit of rain is possible after midnight tonight, with more rain possible after Saturday. It is unlikely that winter will be as mild and dry as autumn has been until now.
Winter is a necessary season in nature, and allows the Southern Hemisphere to get a turn with summer. Many of us enjoy the cool weather, rain and change in scenery as deciduous trees defoliate. Unfortunately though, cool weather and rain are uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for those who lack shelter.
It is difficult to exclude rain and retain warmth without roofs and walls. It is difficult to recover from illness without a warm and dry situation. Our Community is so very fortunate that so few remain unsheltered nowadays, especially after so many lost homes to the CZU Fire two summers ago.
Winter can be somewhat difficult for those who inhabit homes as well. It is the time of year that leaks in roofs are discovered and need to be repaired. The cost of fuel or electricity for heating increases, especially for those who lack the option of burning wood for heat. Even those who use only wood for heat must have purchased it at one time or another. Evacuation below the CZU Fire burn area may be necessary prior to heavy rain.
It will not last forever. We know that it can be uncomfortable, difficult and expensive, but it is only one of four seasons. Spring begins in three and a half months.
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.
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.
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).