Thursday, January 21, 2010
"It Never Rains in Southern California..."
Today's storm was the fourth this week. Winds howled around the corners of our home, occasionally screaming down the chimney, violently bending the pine, oak, and cypress trees that surround our mountain home. Rain poured from the gray skies, then hail pounded sideways in the gale. Our front yard filled with puddles, then ponds, then lakes. I could barely open the front door with the winds pushing it closed.
Nine red flag weather warnings for our county scrolled down my computer screen. Wind warnings to 85 miles per hour. Flood warnings along the coast and valleys through Saturday morning. Ocean waves to 15-20 feet. Tornado warnings. Severe thunderstorm warnings. Rivers flooding their banks. Reports of 73 mph winds in La Jolla. Trains between San Diego and Los Angeles were shut down this afternoon. Southwest Airlines canceled all flights in and out of San Diego today, stranding my dad in San Francisco; my mother at least was not alone last night since her brother stayed with her because he couldn't get out to the sailboat he lives on in San Diego Bay. Cars were stranded up to their headlights just a few blocks from my parents' home.
A levee broke in South Bay, in the Tijuana River Valley. More than a dozen power outages struck the county. Many cars were swept away in North County, and news crews filmed kayakers traveling up Mission Boulevard in the beach communities. Many trees fell across roads throughout the county on this fourth day of storms. Mudslides after last summer's wildfires are a real danger. Sea World and Legoland closed today, and at least Sea World will be closed tomorrow.
Tonight the rain descends almost horizontally among the violently tossing trees. Thunder echoes above our home, the lightning waking our boys this evening. Weather experts are predicting five to eight inches of snow in our mountains overnight; our town is right on the edge of the prediction. Rain and hail still tumble from the sky, pelting our roof while the winds continue to shriek around the house and down the chimney as I type.
This is not the sunny San Diego County we know.
During school we drew near the fire, with Timothy doing his copywork at the hearth. In preparation for the storms, the boys stacked firewood on both sides of the woodburning stove, our only heat source besides a couple of electric heaters. Today Keith stayed home from work at my mother's insistence; he was planning to work on my parents' elevator project, but the flooding in the beach areas was serious. He made savory ham and bean soup for our dinner tonight -- perfect for a stormy night.
San Diego's annual rainfall is 10 inches; in the mountains, our annual rainfall is 23 inches. In the city they've received half of the annual rainfall in the past four days. The predictions are for up to 20 inches here in the mountains for the week. The El Nino that is bringing us this southern jet stream and these storms hasn't been this strongly since 1997-98, and perhaps not since 1983.
And another storm is due tomorrow morning.
Trying to stay safe and dry in (usually) sunny Southern California,