So You Are All Complaining About the Snow. Well, The Flip Side Ain’t Pretty Either.

Jan 30, 2009 by

Our weather in Northern California is possibly even scarier. We’re now in our second extended period of record high, sunny weather since mid-December. It wasn’t much different than sunny and dry last month either. The Sierra snowpack that is our water lifeline is barely 60% of normal. This has been a long time coming. I remember when I moved here over 20 years ago, it was routine to ski over Thanksgiving break. Now it’s rare that you get enough snow to do much skiing until January.

The whole situation is compounded with greater population and aging infrastructure. Yes, GOP, there’s that word infrastructure. Our levees are second in decrepitude to New Orleans’. It would be nice putting some people to work fixing them. Not that our levees are going to break any time soon. More likely, lightning will strike somewhere in May and millions of acres of California will burn to a cinder. Okay, I know many of you will say, “Let California burn”, but you won’t be saying that when you see the price of food. Since we grow most of it, you better hope we get some rain soon. Already, Central California growers are scaling their crop plans back drastically to prepare for severe water rationing.

 

Usual October activity is getting bales of hay delivered to shore up mudslide-prone areas against torrential rains. Here it is almost February and we havent even placed them yet.

Usual October activity is getting bales of hay delivered to shore up mudslide-prone areas against torrential rains. Here it is almost February and we haven’t even placed them yet.

 

 

Let me spell it out for you, we get nearly 100% of our rain between November and February/March, with January usually the wettest month. In normal years, the rain buckets down like a monsoon. Then nada, nothing. Not a friggen drop for the rest of the year. So far, I can count on two fingers the number of real soaking rainstorms we’ve had this year. We are now facing what experts say will surely be a drought of unprecedented scale. Since we’re done with January, it’s almost too late to pray. The rain just isn’t going to come.

 

Weve had such record heat, buds on fruit trees are already sprouting.

We’ve had such record heat, buds on fruit trees are already sprouting.

 

 

I’m not usually violent, but I have to pull myself out of the Red Zone when I hear someone pontificate about how it’s questionable whether we are experiencing Global Warming. Forget the psuedo-science and the people on the Bush payroll who told you otherwise. Just talk to a farmer. Here in California, all you hear is stories such as “Well, we used to grow a lot of [insert crop here] but now it’s too hot. We have to grow it as a winter crop. Soon we won’t be able to grow it at all.”

Surprisingly, Napa Valley is considered an environmental/agricultural hotspot, as in one of the “canaries in the coalmine” for Global Warming. With a climate already on the hottest end of what is acceptable for high-end Cabernet grapes, it’s predicted by many that in less than ten years, Napa’s climate will be too warm for these premium grapes. Sonoma is cooler, with access to some ocean breezes, but we’re next.

 

Usually, I can see all the way down the Sonoma Valley to the Golden Gate Bridge 60 miles away. Its so hot, an inversion layer is holding in all this smog.

Usually, I can see all the way down the Sonoma Valley to the Golden Gate Bridge 60 miles away. It’s so hot, an inversion layer is holding in all this smog.

 

 

I’d ask you all to ship us some snow, if you think you’ve got too much of it. But perhaps a better solution would be to write your Congressman/woman or Senator — especially if they are Republicans. The time is long past to be quibbling about whether we are or aren’t experiencing Global Warming. We are. The earth is a churning mass of weather patterns. So as it gets increasingly hotter in California, it’s going to get colder and snowier and icier in places like the Midwest.

 

Where the oak trees protect it, we still have green grass from one of our few rainstorms last month. This will be dry and brown probably next month.

Where the oak trees protect it, we still have green grass from one of our few rainstorms last month. This will be dry and brown probably next month.

 

 

Some experts say the critical time, the last moment when we could have reversed Global Warming with relative ease was in the last decade. You know what happened then. Drill, Baby, Drill!

Let’s stop fiddling while Rome burns. Time to act.

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10 Comments

  1. Well, currently the grapes are in a dormant state, so they are fine. If they were older grapes, with six foot root systems, they could survive any drought. But they are very young and will need irrigation this summer — which is when our water rationing will probably start. It’s going to be scary.

  2. I was wondering how you all were fairing with the water situation. Are you able to water your grape plants and if not, how do you cope?

  3. Eva

    We had to move from the Napa Valley in 2005 for that exact reason: the increased hot season. Our son gets heatstroke and we lived in a converted barn (no A/C). It was too expensive to purchase a house in Napa with AC, and we did not want to live near my work in Fairfield. The seasons changed over the last 20 years- as has the length of time that we had hot days- as in sizzling hot.

    Bush’s policies placed us 8 years behind in research, solutions, and otherwise preventing further damage. I heard on NPR a discussion about the fact that if we stopped adding to global warming today, the damage is done and will continue to get worse just from the collective amounts over the last few years.

    Yikes…. you go girl…. keep explaining it from a farming perspective and letting folks know what it is like on the ground… in the ranks… where it being felt now!

  4. At this point, there can’t be too much rain. A storm is forecast for the middle of next week. But we’ve been through six such predictions and they just culmanated in a few sprinkles.

  5. Elspeth Ravenwind

    Howdy! Nice post – though painfully poignant. (I came here thru your comment on HumidCity, btw)
    My best friend from college used to live in Mill Valley, and one time he drove me up to Sonoma (and Santa Rosa). We swung by Davis Bynum’s vineyard and Korbel and even had we not visited them, the scenery was almost unbelievably beautiful. To hear of the climactic changes already afoot is terrifying.
    I am sending rainy (in appropriate amounts – not too much…) energies y’all’s way.
    Peace and lush growing blessings!
    Elspeth

  6. If you can make it rain for your full vacation, all California will get down on their knees and worship you. Hurry, get in full Shaman mode.

  7. Don’t worry. I’ll be there in two weeks. With the way things are going for my lately, it will be sure to rain for my entire vacation.

  8. But snow turns into water and water is life. Especially in a farming community.

  9. You know the saying, ‘the grass is always greener’.
    It seems that every region has their issues and areas that need fixing. I will stay away from the politics. The weather on the other hand, well, right now, it is below zero and the high tomorrow will be 18 degrees. I don’t wish all your problems on you but the sunny warm weather just sounds great right now, I’m sure you can understand that feeling.
    I hope you get some relief soon(but trust me, you don’t want 18 degrees ha! ha!)

  10. sazzy

    i agree with you. if i were on the republican side and didn’t believe in global warming i still wouldn’t want to take the chance of being wrong!

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  1. Disrespected by Foxes and Brussels Sprouts | Left Coast Cowboys - [...] how just a few weeks ago, I was complaining about the drought we’ve been having here in California? I’m …
  2. Top Ten Most Popular Posts on Left Coast Cowboys During Jan 2009 | Left Coast Cowboys - [...] So You Are All Complaining About the Snow. Well, The Flip Side Ain’t Pretty Either. Posted on Friday, January …

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