Tag Archives: California

The Drought Is Dead — Long Live the Drought!

Friday, March 15, 2019

California: Drought or Deluge

Like theater’s insignia of tragic and comic masks, California has two seasons: a dry season and a wet season, though one should only bet the rent money on the former annually flexing its atmospheric muscles. In this decade, an extended drought that caused weather reporters to fulminate about a “ridiculously resilient high pressure ridge” not only led to a massive die-off of trees in the mountain ranges, but subsequently generated perfect storm conditions for apocalyptic-scale firestorms in both Northern and Southern California.

Although 2017 finally dispelled the hypnotic hold drought had on California, at this time last year it was not at all certain that California could stop fretting about the renewal of drought. Well over half the state was categorized as ranging from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought” in March, 2018, an assessment that seemed to hint at the drought’s potential return.

In mid-March, 2019, however, the reservoirs are once again brimming, and given the depth of the snowpack, Governor Newsom at least has one less thing to be concerned about during the first half of his term. However, I am curious as to why the article in the Los Angeles Times did not mention the groundwater levels, and whether they will completely recover after all the snow melts. The groundwater wells were drastically overdrawn during the course of the drought, and it seems a bit disingenuous to pretend that all is well when we have yet to receive a groundwater report from CASGEM (California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring).

The reality of perpetual drought is that California cannot let itself get lackadaisical. Every storm that whirls off the Pacific Ocean has as the title of its manifest: “The Drought Is Dead — Long Live the Drought!” The current reserves of water make it all too easy to forget that a mere month and a half ago, a sudden cessation of any rain storms would have left us with enough water to get through the year with careful rationing, but hardly enough to reverse the depletion of the groundwells. In point of fact, compare the levels of California’s reservoirs two years ago, on February 1, 2017, with the levels on the same date, 2019. Even after all the rain in January (https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/01/23/5829411/), the reservoir system as a whole was still not at the same level as the following on Feb. 1, 2017:

FEBRUARY 1, 2017
(First figure, percentage of capacity; second, percentage of historical average)
Trinity — 60& and 84&
Shasta — 77 and 114
Oroville — 80 an 121
Folsom — 53 and 60
New Melones — 42 and 72
Don Pedro — 88 and 128
McClure — 73 and 151
San Luis Reveroir — 84 and 106
Millerton — 66 and 103
Pine Flat — 62 and 131
Lake Perris — 38 and 47
Castaic — 81 and 98

Beginning at the end of January, however, the weather became more chilly in Los Angeles than it had been for over 80 years. Not since the consecutive winters of 1937 and 1937 had Los Angeles gone through a spell of almost six consecutive weeks during which the temperature did not get as high as 70 degrees. Of course this “winter” temperature would be regarded as utterly laughable elsewhere, but the rain storms required more than umbrellas, but also jackets and scarves when one left for work at dawn, the temperature in the mid-40s.

To provide a sense of the rate at which water levels in the state’s reservoirs have increased, I include some comparative readings. In some instances, I would note how a reservoir increased the amount of its capacity by one percent in a single day. This happened at Lake Shasta, Don Pedro, Pine Flat, and Millerton on Feb. 1 – Feb. 2; Folsom increased two percent in that single day. At midnight, on Feb., 16, the same leap occurred: the water levels of Lake Shasta, Oroville, Don Pedro, Pine Flat, and New Melones had ALL increased one percent in a single day.

RESERVOIR LEVELS — Midnight Jan. 31 (leading into Feb. 1, 2019)
(First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity Lake — 65% full — 92% historical level
— Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 68 and 93%
Lake Shasta — 64% full — 95% historical level —
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 72 and 102%
Lake Oroville — 40% — 61%
Feb. 15th 50 (fifty) and 74 percent
Folsom Lake — 53% — 103% —
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 67 and 124%
NEW MELONES — 78^ — 131%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT. 82 and 136 percent
Don Pedro — 74% — 108&
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT. 81 and 116%
Lake McClure — 60% — 125%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 71 and 141
San Luis Reservoir — 86% — 109%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 92 and 112
Millerton — 61% — 96%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 71 and 109
Pine Flat Reservoir — 38% — 82%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT 50 and 99%
Lake Perris — 87% — 108%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT — 87 and 106
Castaic Lake — 75% – 90%
Feb. 15th MIDNIGHT — 80 and 94

MIDNIGHT – February 22 (Saturday) (First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity 68 and 93
Shasta — 76 percent capacity and 106 percent historical — in three weeks Shasta gained 12 percent of total capacity.
Oroville is now at 55 percent and 79%
New Melones — up to 83 and 137 percent
Don Pedro — 74 and 108 — WHOA! NEXT DAY!
AT MIDNIGHT, Feb. 23, DON PEDRO JUMPED TO 83 percent and 117 percent (historical average)
Folsom — 63 and 115
McClure 68 and 134
San Luis — 95 and 113
Milleron 72 and 110
Pine Flat — 55 and 106
Lake Perris — 87 and 106
Castaic — 81 and 94

MIDNIGHT – 2/28
(First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity — 71 and 96$
Shasta — 87 and 119
Oroville 62 and 89 percent
Folson — 61 and 110 (NOTE: REDUCED)
New Melones 84 and 137
San Luis Reveroir — 97 and 114 (GLUTTED)
Millerton — 70 and 107 — REDUCED)
Don Pedro — 82 and 115
Lake McClure — 64 and 123
Pine Flat — 57 and 108
Lake Perris — 87 and 105
Castaic — 80 and 92

Midnight, March 5
(First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity — 72 and 97
Lake Shasta — 87 and 117
Lake Oroville — 67 and 94
Folsom — 63 and 111
New Melones 85 and 138
San Luis Reservoir — 98 and 114
Millerton — 74 and 112
Don Pedro — 83 and 116
lLake McClure — 65 and 125
Pine Flat — 62 and 116
Lake Peris — 87 and 104
Castaic Lake — 79 and 91

MIDNIGHT, March 7, 2019 — Four reservoirs went up significantly — an average of SEVEN percent in the past week; the majority of the other ones rose about two percent.)
(First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity Lake — 73 and 97
Lake Shasta — 89 and 119
Lake Oroville — 70 and 99
(OROVILLE WENT UP EIGHT PERCENT IN A WEEK!!!!!)
Folsom — 66 and 115 (FOLSOM WENT UP FIVE PERCENT)
New Melones Lake — 85 and 139
Don Pedro — 84 and 118
San Luis Reservoir (SF) — 99 and 115
Millerton — 77 and 115 (MILLERTON WENT UP SEVEN PERCENT)
Lake McClure — 67 and 127
Pine Flat – 65 and 121 (EIGHT PERCENT)
Lake Perris — 87 and 104
Castaic Lake — 80 and 91

March 9, 2019
(First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity — 74 and 98
Shasta — 89 and 117 (Shasta dropped to 88 on March 10)
Oroville —- 72 and 101 (Oroville went up to 73 on March 10)
New Melones —86 and 139
Folsom — 67 and 116
Don Pedro — 85 and 118
McClure — 68 and 129
Pine flat 66 and 122
San Luis — 99 and 114
Lake Perris — 87 and 104
Castaic — 81 and 93

Wednesday, March 13 — Oroville at 74 percent and 102 historical average

March 14, 2019 (Midnight)
(First figure, capacity; second, percentage of historical average)

Trinity — 75 and 98
Shasta — 86 and 111
Lake Oroville — 75 and 103
Folsom — 65 and 108
New Melones Lake — 85 and 137
Don Pedro — 84 and 117
Lake McClure — 69 and 130
San Luis — 99 and 113
Millerton — 83 and 122
Pine Flat — 65 and 119
Lake Perris — 87 and 103
Castaic Lake — 82 and 93

American Massacres: From Pittsburgh to Thousand Oaks

Thursday night, November 8, 2018

It’s been a week since I’ve posted on my blog, and some things have changed, and others keep somersaulting in the same predictable arc.

Linda and I drove up to Santa Paula this past weekend to attend the wedding of her niece, Sarah, and her beloved, Margaret. The event was held in a large, open space adjacent to the cottages in which the vineyard’s workers live. Well over 100 people from both sides of the couple’s families attended, ranging from Linda’s nephews (Mason and Luca) to the son-in-law of Linda’s sister, Karen (who is Sarah’s mother. In the late evening, we drove back towards Thousand Oaks and stayed at a motel on Thousand Oaks Blvd. The next morning we visited Linda’s sister, Sharon, and her mother, Noreen, who live in a house that is also occupied by a young student from France named Margot. We chatted briefly before the student left for her Sunday morning jaunt.

The traffic on the way home was heavy, and we were quite tired when we arrived back in Long Beach. In addition to dealing with wet bedding from Rupert’s decision to urinate on our bed to express his displeasure at our absence, we also had to address the fact that we had been rear-ended on the way to the wedding, and it turned out that the other party had a “coverage problem,” according to the person at the second company who called us in response to our inquiries.

This morning, I woke up early to learn that a massacre had taken place at a bar that was less than 1000 yards from the motel where Linda and I had slept on Saturday night. When I called Sharon around 7:30, it turned out that she had been awake for five hours. At 2:30 a.m., Margot had knocked on the front door and rung the door bell until the noise roused Sharon from her sleep. Margot had gone dancing at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks and had been in the bar when the shooting began. She had gone there before she was heading back to France to celebrate the holidays with her family on Friday, and her friends had wanted to see her before she left. In escaping from the bar, she left behind her purse with her keys and cell phone, and was unable to make her way back to her residence until 2:30 a.m.

President Trump wrote in a tweet that he had been “fully briefed” about the massacre, and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of the victims. “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.” That is the sum total of his public leadership in response to the latest massacre, which follows all too closely on the devastating murders at a Pittsburgh synagogue by an anti-semitic follower of President Trump who seems to have felt empowered by the innuendoes of Trump’s rhetoric. The tepid, boilerplate response of the Commander-in-Chief is hardly of a caliber that will persuade the mentally ill in our society to refrain from acting out their pathological scenarios of revenge. “God bless all of the victims….” What the living hell is that supposed to mean, Mr. President? What does trotting out words that you don’t actually believe in accomplish for any victim? To start with, put a number on “all” in that statement. My guess is that you don’t have a clue.

Linda and I have spent a considerable amount of time in Thousand Oaks during the past two decades. In fact, we were married in Sharon’s backyard on May 19, 2001. Somehow, the airplanes that flew into the twin towers in NYC a few months later seem to have obliterated more than just an architectural landmark. The still billowing dust has corroded the capacity of this country to breathe the truth without choking on it.

The haze seems unlikely to grow less hazardous.

I mentioned at the start that some things have “changed.” The Democrats may have retaken control of the House of Representatives, but that political shift is just a twitch. Yes, there are 100 women in the House of Representatives. Yes, one of them is the first lesbian Native American. Yes, the state of Maine has its first woman governor. Ask those who died at the Borderline Bar how much difference these “changes” will make in forestalling the spread of this epidemic of violence. They know all too well the extent of our indifference to their fate.

Part Two: The Massacre at a Pittsburgh Synagogue

Sunday, October 28, 2018

In the past week, several packages containing potentially explosive materials were mailed to prominent political figures, all of whom were associated with the Democratic political party. On Saturday, a gunman entered a synagogue and murdered eleven Jews.

It is Sunday morning, 9:52 a.m., in Long Beach, CA. I look outside a side window of the house my wife and I rent. It is still slightly damp and chilly outside, and there is little traffic. It seems like an “ordinary” Sunday in my neighborhood, and I suppose that many of my fellow citizens will find a way in the coming weeks and months to absorb the news of this massacre in Pittsburg and somehow relegate it to the status of an “aberration” in the American social fabric. I’m afraid it is inherently part of this country’s social DNA; if this is a democracy, its normality can only be described as “differently abled.”

I think back to various points during the presidential campaign of 2016, and how Trump as a candidate cultivated those who promoted violence against those with whom one disagrees. For instance, “Mr. Trump praised his New Hampshire state co-chairman, State Representative Al Baldasaro, who said recently that Mrs. Clinton deserved to face a firing squad over the F.B.I.’s investigation of her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.” This is not fake news, just as Trump’s suggestion that those who support the Second Amendment should take matters into their own hands, should Hilary Clinton be elected. The failure of the Secret Service to release a transcript of its interrogation of Mr. Trump on suspicion of threatening the life of a presidential candidate is a dismal reflection of how little power citizens have in moderating civic life and discourse. We had a right to such a transcript. Where were the Russian hackers when we needed them?

Trump cannot disclaim responsibility for generating a virulent pathology of antagonistic moods, although he began to do so before the yellow tape around the synagogue had been taken down. He blamed the incident on the victims themselves, in claiming that they should have had an armed guard at their place of worship. Among a multitude of other things Trump misses, he fails to note that it is his manipulation of ideological fanaticism that has fanned the embers of anti-semitic hostility and permitted their volatility to incandesce.

“Climate change” will have to find a way to become plural in its encompassing of the political ecology, if we are to have any hope of tampering down this conflagration of hideous animus.