Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Uncle! Uncle!

I stand by my earlier post and my opinion that what passes for winter weather in Northern California is not something about which we residents should complain.

We do not suffer the November-March freeze I remember growing up near Chicago.  Nor do we contend with hurricanes, as 2whls3spds pointed out -- there are places where storms get names on a regular basis. For that matter, house-threatening wildfires happen more often in the foothills and in Southern California, and mudslides seem to be a SoCal thing too.
But... even I have to admit that these past few days have been noteworthy.

There.  I said it, NorCal friends.  Bad weather here is still capable of being pretty bad.

I'm thinking specifically of tree-falling -- the annual routine of enormous trees shedding pickup-trcuk sized limbs and others apparently deciding "to hell with it" and cashing in their chips altogehter.

I don't think I've lived anywhere else (and I've lived in a lot of different places) where trees make such a habit of falling down.  Here's my amateur explanation, which I'm pretty sure is full of errors.

Sacramento is surprisingly tree-lined, despite being in a dry climate.  Huge oaks, a few remaining elms, giant redwoods, you name it and we've got it.  Indigenous varieties and even some imports aren't built for coexisting with irrigated lawns and suffer a lot of water damage.  Roots are shallower than they should be and even giant trees are less secure in their footing than you'd imagine.

Now, add three or four days of nonstop rain, making the ground a squishy, pliable mess.  Throw in a few gusts of 50 mph, and you've got trees lying on the ground. 

The photo below is from the park near my house.  You can tell it's been raining by two signs: there is a tree lying on the ground; and there is no one sleeping off a hangover or shooting up on the lawn.

The photo at the top is offered as proof that even bad weather around here is punctuated by periods of sunshine, suitable for testing the fenders on your Schwinn Racer.  Mine's named "The Mayor" in honor of its Chicago roots.


  1. Hah! Your photo at the top must have been taken during the three hours of sunshine we had on Saturday. Yes, the weather is pretty wonderful here--even the rain has been relatively mild. But I stand by my theory that people get accustomed to good weather pretty quickly, and their mood tends to darken when their expectations are dashed.

    That tree at the bottom is either rotted or (more likely) termite-ridden, by the way--no roots are pulled up and you can see the spongy, cork-like trunk still in the ground.

  2. You're right about the sunshine, Matt. I estimate that I was cycling during 90 percent of available sunny moments that week. I kept figuring it might be days before I'd have another chance. As it happened, I managed to get out almost every day throughout DeathStorm 2010.