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Expected, and unexpected, rain

If I were a man who believed in omens, I would say that I received two good omens so far today. One was personal, and the second was the unexpected rain that is falling in the entire Bay Area this afternoon and NOW expected to continue through tonight. In fact, rain is falling over much of the southern two-thirds of California today. Thanksgiving is supposed to be partly cloudy here in the Bay Area, with sunny skies through Tuesday, and temperatures of 70s F during the day and 40s at night. I have written several times about rain and water (1, 2, 3), which may appear odd to you folks who receive rain all year round, but which will be understood immediately by those of you who do not. Besides providing water, rain also clears the air of particulate matter and some noxious gases that can accumulate in California’s valleys.

The rain that is falling in the Bay Area was not supposed to fall so far north. Southern California was supposed to, and did, receive the lion’s share of the storm, a mixed blessing. The recent fires (1, 2) in Southern California and the expected rain from today’s storm have placed many places there under “flash flood watches,” since hills have been denuded of vegetation by the fires.

Rain is falling in Yosemite, and Tahoe is forecast to have snow down to 6500 feet. I have mentioned this difference in how California measures snowfall before. In the Mid-West, we would say that 4-6 inches of snow are in the forecast. In California, we do not often hear how many inches (or feet!) of snow are in the forecast, but only the elevation at which it is expected to fall. The elevation is important, even for us non-skiers, because it lets us know what roads will remain open and when to expect delays.

I want to wish all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving a very good one, and for those of you who do not, I wish additional reasons to give thanks. I hope that Southern California receives enough rain to end its fire season, but not so much as to cause flash floods and mudslides.

(Note added November 26, 2008, 4:12 PM PST: The “triple whammy” of 1.5 inches of rain, a small, magnitude 3.1 earthquake, and canyon slopes denuded by the earlier “Freeway Complex Fire” caused the manditory evacuation of 300-400 residents in the North Fairmont neighborhood of sparsely populated Yorba Linda today. So far, the slopes are holding.

I have always loved rain. Living in California gives me even more reasons to do so.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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