So much for the drought.
January 16, 2010 4:49 AM   Subscribe

California's calm before the storm. It's just rain, right? Well, the meteorologists are publicly talking about a potentially epic storm that could trigger major flooding and mudslides, especially in areas effected by the state's widespread fires of the past few years. More ominously, though, is this internal email from CAL FIRE Division Chief Bob Wallen, which talks of the potential for "multiple large and powerful storm systems" with "a tremendous amount of precipitation . . . Much of NorCal is likely to see 5-10 inches in the lowlands, with 10-20 inches in orographically-favored areas. Most of SoCal will see 3-6 inches at lower elevations, with perhaps triple that amount in favored areas", with the potential for a massive snowfall, gusts in the 100-200 mph range in the high Sierras, possibly followed by plentiful warm rains that could melt the snow and cause massive flooding statewide. "The next 2-3 weeks (at least) are likely to be more active across California than any other 2-3 week period in recent memory."
posted by markkraft (176 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
As Conan O'Brian blandly observed a few weeks ago, regarding California's hysterical reaction to weather: "It's called 'rain,' folks."
posted by Faze at 4:59 AM on January 16, 2010


Wow. 200 mph winds would be biblical.
posted by RussHy at 5:00 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's called 'rain,' folks."

Exactly. And Californians usually don't know how to deal with it. Add in rampaging winds, mudslides, snow down to 3000' across the state... impenetrable Tule fog with the obligatory multiple car pileups made worse by flooding... and expect a widespread state of emergency to be declared.

We'll get through it, sure... but weather nerds are probably going to be talking about this one for years.
posted by markkraft at 5:09 AM on January 16, 2010


If the Levees Fail in California... The economic cost would top Katrina's.

If you were to draw up a list of the most worrisome infrastructure risks facing America, the leak-prone network of levees that run east from the San Francisco Bay up to Sacramento would rank right near the top. This 2,600-mile-long system of berms protects half a million people, 4 million acres of farmland, and the drinking water supply for most of Southern California. Vulnerable to either an earthquake or flooding, it is "like a ticking time bomb," warns Lester Snow, director of the California Water Resources Dept.
posted by markkraft at 5:14 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is obviously God's punishment for banning gay marriage.
posted by Avenger at 5:15 AM on January 16, 2010 [105 favorites]


(from the first link:) In the high country I would expect 5 to 10 feet of snow with significant snow of several feet down to 5,500 to 6,000 feet.

Come again? TEN FEET?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:17 AM on January 16, 2010


It never rains in California, but boy don't they warn you.....
posted by reidfleming at 5:22 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Come again? TEN FEET?"

"A truly prodigious amount of snowfall is likely to occur in the mountains, possibly measured in the tens of feet in the Sierra after it's all said and done."

Fear the plural!
posted by markkraft at 5:22 AM on January 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why does this sound so familiar?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:37 AM on January 16, 2010


Wow, I live in Arizona and would think at least some of this would come our way, but haven't heard anything about it.
posted by mattholomew at 5:37 AM on January 16, 2010


Lester Snow, director of the California Water Resources Dept.
Eponysterical.
posted by Electric Dragon at 5:51 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


How seriously do you take this stuff? (I know it's California, but anyway.) The guy's a commercial weather forecaster, predicting seven days ahead. I've heard that forecasts may not turn out to be exactly 100% accurate. Sometimes they're 87% accurate 18 times out of 20 and all, but they're never 100% true until the day of the forecast actually arrives, yes?

Then, after all the dire predictions, the Accuweather guy says, "Looking even farther out the models disagree with what may happen." Is this a forecast or not?

Right after that he launches into a plea to join their FB page so that you can upload data and videos. What? I mean, the special offers are appealing, but I don't think these guys can predict the weather this afternoon, let alone next week.
posted by sneebler at 5:52 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I live in Arizona and would think at least some of this would come our way, but haven't heard anything about it."

It's coming your way too.

posted by markkraft at 5:54 AM on January 16, 2010


wow heavy snows east of phoenix...
posted by kliuless at 5:55 AM on January 16, 2010


They may not be able to predict the weather but, as others have said, the infrastructure in certain areas of California for dealing with catastrophic weather conditions are poor, and that should be a major concern for whenever disaster does strike. Remember, people brushed off Katrina at first because New Orleans had been hit with similar hurricanes before and the city wasn't significantly damaged. I think the major concern here is a cascading effect where one part of the system fails and that just amplifies the damage which in turn leads to the failure of another part of the system.
posted by billysumday at 5:56 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know it can be fun to dump on California (heh!) and I've been guilty of it myself over the 10+ years I've been here since moving down from the PNW. However, if the predictions are only 50% accurate, it's still a very large amount of precip that is going to effect millions of people. Taking into account our storm drain infrastructure and soils, plus the recent burn areas, and there's going to be a lot of water that's looking for someplace to go.

At my house, which also happens to be in an orographically-favored area near the foot of some south facing slopes, my soil is very clay based. It takes FOREVER for water to soak into the ground. Our storm drains are generally more full of leaves and trash than water, so when hit with a large dump of rain it's really common for them to just back up into the streets. The system simply isn't equipped to handle what could be a domino effect of 18 inches of rain + mudslides + heavy winds throwing tree branches and palm fronds around.

Another thing that may be worth considering is possible loss of the large transmission lines that Southern California Edison has that run through the San Gabriel mountains. These are the same major transmission lines that suffered some minor damage during the Station Fire that burned 160,577 acres (251 sq mi) from August - October of last year.

So say there are 100-200mph winds (big if) through the San Gabriels, and those lines go down. It's like a moonscape of ash up there. Soak that with 10-20 inches of rain, possible feet of snow near Mt Wilson and that makes possible repair to those lines about as daunting and you can think. So lets say those lines go down and millions of SCE customers in SoCal (map) are without power for hours or days... doesn't really sounds fun to me at all.

So today, I'll be doing normal precautionary prep around the house, grabbing some extra candles, tarps etc. Never hurts to be prepared, even though it's supposed to be sunny and 70f today.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 6:21 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The weather seems to be getting increasingly erratic and unpredictable. It's like there's some sort of widespread change taking place.
posted by mecran01 at 6:29 AM on January 16, 2010 [50 favorites]


I got the same email a few days ago. Not excited to drive hwy 17 for the next two weeks but so stoked to go up to Tahoe after the storms are done.
posted by special-k at 6:30 AM on January 16, 2010


Cliff Mass on the storms inbound from a PNW perspective.
posted by mwhybark at 6:32 AM on January 16, 2010


I heard that Californians made a pact with the devil, and now they are reaping what they have sown.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:57 AM on January 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


These storms, are they going to strike before or after California slides into the Pacific Ocean?
posted by localroger at 7:22 AM on January 16, 2010


We're in the middle of a major drought, people. It's been bone dry all winter. Any storm of significance at this point is going to cause a ton of flooding on the basis of the dry ground runoff alone, and this is more or less the first real storm of note this season.

It might be nifty to make fun of Californians for being bad at rain -- I think the crazy panic is largely only present in the dust-choked desert that is southern CA, though, and not in real California -- but several factors come into play here. For one thing, we desperately need the rainfall to support our human population as well as the massive agricultural base that feeds the entire rest of the country. Rainfall and Sierra snow melt contribute to an enormous fraction of California's fresh water needs, especially now that so much of it gets pumped down to LA to be pissed away in swimming pools or on lawns. Rain is a big, big deal, and Californians care about it as a matter of survival.

Now add in the fact that one good storm can and does lead to flooding, mudslides, and coastal erosion and you're dealing with a not insignificant public safety situation. California has terrain, you know. It's not just some flat square corn patch in the middle of the country. Throwing a bunch of water all over that terrain can deform it in ways that will affect the people who live here.

"It's called rain," indeed. Ha ha, funny man. Now fly your ass out here and help sandbag or STFU.
posted by majick at 7:33 AM on January 16, 2010 [26 favorites]


I live in LA Westside in what basically amounts to a cave. It's the bottom floor of the bottom of a hill at the bottom of a large depression. Our apartment is underground actually, with the central courtyard being about 2 feet above our apartment floor.

When it rains, they setup sandbags to divert drainage from one apartment on the same floor, and the parking garage tends to flood.

This could be a fascinating experience.

Is it appropriate to say DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM?
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:42 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know a place where the weather is remarkably stable. A place where there are no mudslides, brushfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, collapsing dams, washed out highways, or parched lakebeds. It's a place with abundant fresh water, good farm land, an extensive (if somewhat worn) infrastructure, plenty of affordable housing, and a temperate climate. It's called Detroit. It's in the beautiful state of Michigan. If all you whiney little California babies are so afraid of the weather, you can haul your money and families about of that environmentally unsustainable human settlement that is known as the Southwestern United States, and come and re-settle in Detroit, or Toledo, Cleveland or Buffalo. Yeah, it occasionally snows. But we don't mistake it for the apocalypse. You or your ancestors all went scampering off to CA from wherever you were born, thinking you were entitled to keep your ice trays filled by sucking the water from surrounding states, while you enjoyed permanent sunshine, endless building, and state-worker retirement packages that defied the laws of economics as they could be understood by any six-year-old with a quarter in his fist, and a 50 cent candy bar on the counter. Now we're all supposed to give benefit concerts because you got a little rainy-wainy coming your way.
posted by Faze at 7:53 AM on January 16, 2010 [28 favorites]


I heard that Californians made a pact with the devil, and now they are reaping what they have sown.
Ah, so that's what Proposition 8 was.
posted by Flunkie at 7:54 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Yeah, it occasionally snows."

As the designated representative of California for this thread, I speak for all Californians when I say: Fuck that. Thanks for the offer, though!
posted by majick at 7:57 AM on January 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


Faze, it's a shame that your excellent point about the livability of Midwestern cities is wrapped in that burrito of doucheosity.
posted by billysumday at 7:59 AM on January 16, 2010 [60 favorites]


Yeah, I was a New England transplant in L.A. for six years and had plenty of opportunities to roll my eyes at the native "OMG WHY IS WATER FALLING FROM THE SKY" reaction to rain, but potential rain on this scale is worth taking notice of, especially in areas where wildfires have burned away any vegetation that might hold a hillside in place during heavy rain.

If you've ever wanted to go have a look at the Ennis house, this might be a good weekend to do it... I don't know if it will survive any more epic mudslides.
posted by usonian at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2010


Doucheness aside, the Detroit-Minneapolis-Chicago-Winnipeg-Fargo area does have the whole lack of "weather and earthquakes that kill you" thing going on.
posted by sleslie at 8:05 AM on January 16, 2010


...a temperate climate. It's called Detroit.

Let me guess, you're only there in the spring and fall? That 90% humidity + 95 degree summers full of mosquitos and 4 feet of snow blowing sideways in the winter as you hope not to fall into one of the 4 foot roadsinks is temperate only if you average the two out.

No, that's ok. I'd like to wait until after I'm dead to experience hell.
posted by yeloson at 8:06 AM on January 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


If all you whiney little California babies are so afraid of the weather, you can haul your money and families about of that environmentally unsustainable human settlement that is known as the Southwestern United States, and come and re-settle in Detroit, or Toledo, Cleveland or Buffalo. Yeah, it occasionally snows. But we don't mistake it for the apocalypse.

Yeah, you know what? We Californians don't actually mistake rain for the apocalypse, either. We, too, laugh at the endless "STORM WATCH!" reports on the local news, and a lot of us do actually own umbrellas and know how to slow down while driving in the rain. Also, I have lived here my whole life and have yet to die in an earthquake, nor do I know anyone else who has died, or even been injured, in one.

That said, this is apparently going to be a big frigging storm, our infrastructure sucks, I have an aged horse up in the burn area and I'm not going to be able to get to him all week because they're closing the canyon road tomorrow morning, and the burn areas are in real danger of huge mudslides. But now I have a solution! I'll just move to Detroit!
posted by OolooKitty at 8:07 AM on January 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh good, another chance to decide if it's a derail, noise, or offensive.
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on January 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Here in Salt Lake City we're hoping for some of that biblical precipitation to blow our way and scour the valley of the inversion that's given us air you can taste for the last few weeks.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know it can be fun to dump on California

Dump all you want. Just realize that California weather always gets worse as it moves East....
posted by eye of newt at 8:22 AM on January 16, 2010


nice troll Faze! from this recent askMe about weight of snow I learned some neat stuff. Let's translate a supposed 18in of rain here at my house into snow, shall we? I won't claim to have all the math right, but if we look at the best answer from that thread we get a link to this great table. It shows the average snow-to-liquid ratio for Detroit as 11.9. So we'll round that to snow in detroit being 1/12 as dense as rain. take our possible 18 inches of rain and make that 18 feet of snow over a one week period... (correct me if my math is wrong here folks)

now granted, that depth may be a tiny bit more disruptive than our rain, but it's still pretty gnarly for our infrastructure.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 8:23 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyone who says a Michigan winter can't kill you hasn't been through one.

I have another proposal, though: resettle Detroit with the people of Port-au-Prince. Spend what would have been spent rebuilding that city on rebuilding Detroit's infrastructure and seeding the economy with tons of green jobs and low cost education resources. Let Haiti re-forest for a generation.

Pipe dream, I know. Good luck, Californians. I admit to my share of resentment (and I've experienced several flavors -- you know New Yorkers, Midwesterners, Seattleites, and Texans each have different reasons for hating on California, right?). But I've got a whole lot of peeps in SoCal (including one entire side of my family, several of my favorite colleagues, three ex-girlfriends, and a condor in a kumquat tree) so I don't want to see y'all disappear into the sea or a hole in the ground or a blazing inferno, even if I have said so facetiously in the past, really. Really, some of my *best friends* are Californian. In general, Californians are my second favorite people in the world, right after *everyone else* (except Germans, to paraphrase Kinky Friedman).

That said, what a crazy place to put 20 million people. (Nice beaches though.)

I kid, I kid.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:23 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is certainly good at State Hate. Me, I blame those fuckin' Texans.
posted by everichon at 8:25 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


A very funny video on this issue from UCLA students.
posted by Edward L at 8:40 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Noaa knows about it, but I haven't heard word of an ark yet... something wrong with this story.

In all seriousness though, prayers and good luck wishes to y'all out there.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:42 AM on January 16, 2010


Faze, no more fruit, veggies, or nuts for you then, since more than half of the country's supply comes from your mortal enemy, California. No more milk or cheese, since California is the #1 dairy-producing state. No more almonds, artichokes, strawberries, kiwi, pistachios, dates, or figs, since those are all almost exclusively grown in California. The weather our ancestors "went scampering off to," incidentally, is great for growing crops and raising livestock.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:46 AM on January 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


markkraft: Exactly. And Californians usually don't know how to deal with it.

It's not that Californians don't, it's that California is really prone to flooding under heavy rain. At least in the northern part, which is where I grew up, there are a pair of mountain ranges down both sides of the state. There's a SERIOUS mountain range on the Nevada border, the Sierras, which 'squeezes' the water out of clouds as they pass over. (That's why Nevada is so very dry.) And there's there's another set of much smaller mountains on the coast -- Californians call them hills, but they're usually 1 or 2 thousand feet high. Many parts of the country would call them mountains. So the water can't easily escape to the sea, and has to find one of the fairly narrow paths (aka, "rivers") that get through the passes.

Because of the concentration of water, the lowland areas tend to be very fertile, and thus very crowded. There are a LOT of people in California that live in flood zones.... it's kind of the only place to live in large chunks of the state.

In the town where I grew up, we had a very nasty set of rains sometime in the 80s, and it became very difficult to even get out of town. There was probably 10 or 20 square miles of low-lying land between it and the next town over, and the entire area, this enormous lowland, was under probably eight feet of water, including all the roads. If it had rained for just one more day, downtown would have been completely underwater.

California has awesome infrastructure for dealing with earthquake; they've been getting ready for earthquakes for like a hundred years, and even in very serious ground tremors, you typically don't see that much damage, except in a few areas like the Marina district in San Francisco, which was built on landfill. And the emergency services are very good, with lots of equipment and the ability to respond to very large problems.

But they're not well-geared for having half the fucking state underwater, and if that much rain falls, a whole bunch of towns in the areas north of San Francisco are going to be in very serious trouble. And it sounds like LA won't be in any better shape, although I don't know the geography issues down there.

Again: California has some of the best emergency response teams anywhere in the world. If they're getting panicky, it's because there's a real reason for that. Don't just handwave and be dismissive.
posted by Malor at 8:57 AM on January 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thanks, Edward L, that video was hilarious, at least to this former Southern Californian.
posted by twsf at 9:10 AM on January 16, 2010


I'm originally from Arizona and I love to hate on California just as much as anyone else.

I've lived in New Orleans for the last decade and have had to endure more than my fair share of "why do you live there?" trolls.

This is not the time for any of that. California looks like they are going to get hit pretty hard in the next two weeks and they won't be able to absorb it. So please, knock off the crap comments or at least take it over to the grey room.
posted by djeo at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2010


It's called Detroit.

detroit is full of trolls - they all live under the bridge

i would advise the western part of the state - for one thing, you're more likely to find a job there
posted by pyramid termite at 9:13 AM on January 16, 2010


No more milk or cheese, since California is the #1 dairy-producing state.

I tell you one thing: if that awful Kirsten beats out Soo for a slot as the next Happy Cow tomorrow, you can keep your dang dairy products, and I'll take my business back to Wisconsin, where they know bovine talent when they see it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:16 AM on January 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Considering that not even NOAA can predict the weather on the West Coast 10 days ahead of time with any great accuracy (let alone the misnamed "Accuweather"), I'm not very worried about this .

The big thing I'm getting out of this is that skiing is probably going to be great at Tahoe next week.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:50 AM on January 16, 2010


As Conan O'Brian blandly observed a few weeks ago, regarding California's hysterical reaction to weather: "It's called 'rain,' folks."

I grew up in a place in Georgia where the first hint of snowfall would result in the closure of all schools and most businesses, with store shelves being cleared within a couple hours, people fighting over the very last supplies of milk and crisco. The panic in California isn't nearly as fun.
posted by troybob at 10:16 AM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I live four blocks from the Station Fire burn. All of my neighbors have had terrible colds and breathing problems for the last month due to the topsoil being in the air instead of on the ground. My colleague has lived in this area all his life, and he's just laughing at the developers who put houses and a golf course in the Tujunga Wash. "It's going to look like the moon come February," he said.

And this is the area of Los Angeles that has been the most fortified against flooding.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:29 AM on January 16, 2010


I have a suggestion that could keep you all occupied : Learn To Swim
posted by mannequito at 10:31 AM on January 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Living in LA but having grown up in rainy places I have to agree that the local news stations have a bizarre way of reporting average rain fall. It cracks me up when I see some reporter "out in the field" looking all hunched up and squinty describing the devastating effect of the current "rain storm" on people while a light drizzle of a shower wets their jacket.
However, I've also learned that at least SoCal has 2 major problems with rain:

1) it rarely rains so the roads are covered with a layer of a year's worth of brake and tire rubber and other dust which can turn into a very slick and very dangerous substance during the first rain falls. I've found myself sliding down a moderately steep road and right through a red light without any ability to steer or stop. It was almost like aquaplaning except on a fine layer of slick invisible mud.

2) the ground around these parts simply can't absorb large amounts of water quickly. it's an area that is adapted to sparse occasional rain fall. As soon as there's a significant amount of water things change and you get flooding and mud slides.

3) the mountain ranges north of where I live in Glendale look like a fucking moon scape. The fires left next to nothing. It's all dry loose dirt with no live plants to hold them together. If there's going to be a lot of rain there's a good chance that a lot of this stuff will come down on the neighborhoods there.

4) the LA drainage and sewer system is complete junk and the streets are crap. This infrastructure can barely handle light rain. If it rains just a bit you get 2-3 foot deep standing water across half the right lanes in many places and it won't drain. I work right next to the LA river and it turns into a raging torrent inside its ugly concrete bed just after 2 or 3 days of light rain.

So, yeah, SoCal news stations can be made fun of for being ridiculous about turning every light shower into the world's end but a an actual serious rain storm could potentially be a disaster for us here. So don't be dicks about it. We do need the rain desperately but we certainly can't handle it if it gets dumped on us all at once.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ugh: 4 major problems... :)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:52 AM on January 16, 2010


Yeah, you know what? We Californians don't actually mistake rain for the apocalypse, either. We, too, laugh at the endless "STORM WATCH!" reports on the local news, and a lot of us do actually own umbrellas and know how to slow down while driving in the rain.

After living a year and a half in SoCal, I got to say that yes, some of you do and it scared the heck out of me to be on the road after or during a rain shower. Just like driving around my beloved South when there's been a snowfall or ice storm.
posted by Atreides at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2010


Faze, you sound bitter. You also don't seem to realize that only part of the state is in the Southwest. Northern California gets enough rainfall that we export water to Southern California.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:00 AM on January 16, 2010


The Central Coast got a freak storm a few months ago that dumped 6 inches + on much of San Luis Obispo County in 30 hours (I was lucky; my neighborhood only got 4). It caused problems here in the more-easily-drained part of the state and we are not looking forward to a WEEK of that. I grew up in the poorly-drained part of the San Fernando Valley and saw my residential street fill with water whenever rainfall exceeded 1 inch. It will be so NOT pretty there. And I have seen the Los Angeles River turn briefly from a dry channel to a seriously rushing river nearly overflowing its banks with less than is forecast.

And if the avocado fields around here get flooded, then it'll cost an arm and a leg to make guacamole for The Super Bowl. Do YOU want to go back to Onion Dip, America?
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:16 AM on January 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hairy Lobster: It cracks me up when I see some reporter "out in the field" looking all hunched up and squinty describing the devastating effect of the current "rain storm" on people while a light drizzle of a shower wets their jacket.

Well, as someone who started in California, and who's presently in the South, I can confirm that individual storms in the South are usually much more intense than they are in California, especially with all the lightning. Each individual storm here is wildly more impressive, but they rarely last longer than an hour or two, and blow over.

In NoCal, storms are slow and gradual things... it starts to get cloudy, then it gets fully overcast, and then the rain starts. It typically rains for at least a day, often two or three, and then gradually dissipates. And, because the area tends to be completely dry during the summer, the first few hours of driving after the first fall or winter storm are dangerous as hell. It's like the roads are covered in black ice.

It rarely rains very hard. It just doesn't stop freaking raining. In that flood I mentioned up-thread, before the big storm week, it had rained every day for the entire month of January. So the ground was super-saturated, and then when another ten inches or so got dumped on us in three or four days, a LOT of low-lying areas just drowned. Because of the mountains on both sides, there simply is nowhere for the water to go. Human drainage systems just can't keep up with it... it's hard to believe how much water is involved unless you've actually been through it. Nothing too awful happens for years, sometimes a decade at a time, and then suddenly you have to drain the freaking Mississippi into the San Francisco Bay using pipes. Not terribly surprisingly, this doesn't work very well.

More generally, to the thread as a whole: Californians are not idiots, and the LOLTHEYCANTHANDLERAIN crap shows your ignorance, not theirs.
posted by Malor at 11:46 AM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


If all you whiney little California babies are so afraid of the weather

Yeah! And what the hell is wrong with those wimpy Haitians whining about a little earthquake? I barely wake up for a 6.8!

This is fun. And by fun I mean ignorant and a little tasteless.
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


I had the experience of spending a lot of time in L.A. during a previous el nino season, and (despite doing my own share of eye-rolling) I observed that not only do southern Californians not do well with an inch of rain, southern California itself doesn't do well with it.

If this much rain drops in this short of a period, it's going to be a disaster, and not in the funny "hey look at them Californians" way.
posted by nonliteral at 12:05 PM on January 16, 2010


I've never lived in California, but I have lived through a few epic storms in Houston, like TS Allison. Even in places where the drainage is good and people know how to deal with it, prolonged rainfall and flooding can be scary stuff. And even taking the reports with a grain of salt for weather pr0n, this sounds like a potentially scary storm.

The thing about weather alarmism is that even though you don't generally get the worst-case scenario, and people feel like the forecasters cried wolf. Then you get some real disaster like Allison, or worse Rita or Katrina, and all the preparation in the world isn't enough because it's beyond what the emergency infrastructure could possibly handle.

I wish Californians good luck in dealing with this and hope that the worst forecasts don't pan out.
posted by immlass at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


As the designated representative of California for this thread, I speak for all Californians when I say: Fuck that.

Well, you also referred to the non-Southern parts of California as "real California." I'd like to humbly suggest that you don't represent jack shit.
posted by dhammond at 12:14 PM on January 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


These storms, are they going to strike before or after California slides into the Pacific Ocean?
posted by localroger at 7:22 AM on January 16 [+] [!]


After.

Just like Haiti:

Four deadly storms battered Haiti in quick succession in 2009 in one of the worst disasters in its history. More than 800 people were killed and nearly 1 million left homeless or in dire need of help. ...

The storms struck in a period of just four weeks, causing fatal mudslides and widespread flooding. Thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged, and crops and livestock wiped out.

Tropical Storm Hanna unexpectedly smashed into the country in early September, killing hundreds, just days after Tropical Storm Gustav killed around 75. Days later, Hurricane Ike killed at least 65 people. Another storm, Fay, killed around 50 people in mid August. The disasters affected nine out of ten regions of Haiti.

Hanna's torrential rains submerged the port city of Gonaives under 2 metres (6.5 feet) of water, affecting at least 80 percent of the 300,000 estimated to live in the town. Food warehouses and hospitals were flooded in the city where many people only survived by scrambling onto rooftops. When the floodwaters receded they left behind deep piles of mud, human bodies and animal carcasses.

As the example of Haiti shows, it can take a while for the water to work its way down and lubricate the faults.
posted by jamjam at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2010


Oops, California will slide into the Pacific Ocean after the rains, that is.
posted by jamjam at 12:24 PM on January 16, 2010


A few more grim articles out there on what to expect...

Debris, ash flow 'probable' in La Canada Flintridge next week.

Rainstorms headed for La Cañada are expected to bring the greatest debris and mudflows to the local foothills since the 1934 mudflows, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist said Friday.

It’ll be on that scale,” Patzert said. “The city has built system of debris basins and has a whole series of flood control strategies. But, on the other hand, we’ve burrowed further up into the hills and into the canyons over the last 75 years.”

"Kind friend, do you remember?
On that fatal New Year's night
The lights of old Los Angeles
Was a flick'ring, Oh, so bright.
A cloudburst hit the mountains
And it swept away our homes;
And a hundred souls was taken
In that fatal New Years flood."

posted by markkraft at 12:24 PM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even in places where the drainage is good and people know how to deal with it, prolonged rainfall and flooding can be scary stuff.

Echoing this.

There have been "epic storms" in Missouri that have caused all sorts of problems: impassable roads, near-zero visibility, flooding because the rainfall comes too fast or after the ground was already saturated, power going out, rising rivers...

It's not exactly scary if you're safe at home in a high place, but it can still cause massive problems. And that's in an area where large, frequent thunderstorms are expected and the infrastructure is built to handle it, more or less.

It's easy to imagine how California could suffer much worse. "It's just rain, get over that" bah. If you say that you don't have a very good respect for what massive amounts of water can do.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:36 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm no psychometeorologist, but I'd say the schadenfreude forecast for the same time period is up to record levels and I'd like to congratulate Conan, Metafilter users, and others who clearly had the foresight to go green by powering their activities with it.
posted by weston at 12:48 PM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had the experience of spending a lot of time in L.A. during a previous el nino season, and (despite doing my own share of eye-rolling) I observed that not only do southern Californians not do well with an inch of rain, southern California itself doesn't do well with it.

If this much rain drops in this short of a period, it's going to be a disaster, and not in the funny "hey look at them Californians" way.


Exactly. Much of Southern California is desert. We don't deal with an inch of rain because it rarely rains. The infrastructure and storm drains are for "average" rainfalls which in on most days is 0.00". Nature's way of dealing with gully washers is thwarted by all of the people and their stuff in the path of the runoff.

A typical rain storm where I live now is about 15 minutes of light drizzle. Just enough to make the freeways slick and get my car dirty. So when a year's worth of rain supposed to happen in a few days it is kind of a big deal.

The storm of the century of the week is expect to show up tomorrow, so I'm going to go to the beach and play outside.
posted by birdherder at 1:00 PM on January 16, 2010


Luckily for most Californians it's pretty obvious that y'all are just jealous that we were rocking shorts and t-shirts all last week while you had to wear whatever it is that people wear in places where it really gets cold. And Conan is only making fun because he just moved here. He'll be singing a different tune once he sees just how flooded the streets of Burbank can get.

Anyway. Nervous about this, because we just bought our house and we have no idea how well it and our yard will stand up to what sounds like it'll just be an onslaught of water. My dad used to have to siphon water out of the backyard with a hose because it turned into a swamp during the winter rains. Our yard slopes down so I'm hoping it'll just all run into the neighbors' yard...

And I guess I am going to be leaving the dog in the people house instead of the dog house while I'm at work. Can't WAIT to see how that'll work out.

And of course this is the week my husband will be out of town. Feh. Thanks, weather.
posted by crinklebat at 1:06 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Up here on Vancouver Island, a foot of rain can fall in 24 hours on the outer coast and not really fuck stuff up too much. The populated floodplains (which do flood) are on the East side, in somewhat of a rainshadow (though still very wet), and the rest of the island drains very well. There are landslides in clearcuts and such, but nobody really freaks out too much.

But when I lived in LA, a shower would turn the soil in the Santa Monicas into impossible gumbo and though it hardly rained, you could see by the size of the floodworks that - partly because they utterly fail to manage it properly - water is the city's mortal enemy. As a rainforest native you kind of look around and say to yourself, "Jesus, if it gets wet here, these people are doomed..."
posted by klanawa at 1:35 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Doucheness aside, the Detroit-Minneapolis-Chicago-Winnipeg-Fargo area does have the whole lack of "weather and earthquakes that kill you" thing going on.

i almost knocked myself out in a late night bike commute home, one fucking freezing, minneapolis-in-february night. if i had taken a little unexpected nap on that trail i'm pretty sure i'd never have woken up. out here on the west coast, and specifically the pacific northwest, in a similar situation, i'd likely not freeze to death. i'd just wake up wet.
posted by rainperimeter at 2:20 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what's worse than California drivers in the rain?

California animals don't like the rain at all. We recently got about 1/4" of rain over a 2 day period and my animals freaked out. I had to physically throw the dogs out the door and slam it shut before they could get back in. And even then, they refused to go out in the yard to do their business. They did all their peeing and pooping on the concrete where the veranda protected them from the deluge and damp ground. My serial killer cat just gave up on killing and hid under the bed for the duration.

But my goats were the biggest babies of all. When one of the goats get hit by a single drop of falling water, they all freak out and head for the shed until the sky is blue again. Goats have a nasty habit of peeing and pooping whenever and wherever they get the urge, so it doensn't take long for them to foul the shed to the point where I need to lay in a fresh bed of straw . I stocked up on straw a couple days ago and I have a feeling I'm gonna get real wet this week as I keep those little buggers clean and dry. But at least that'll keep me off the road.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


i almost knocked myself out in a late night bike commute home, one fucking freezing, minneapolis-in-february night. if i had taken a little unexpected nap on that trail i'm pretty sure i'd never have woken up. out here on the west coast, and specifically the pacific northwest, in a similar situation, i'd likely not freeze to death. i'd just wake up wet.

Or swept to your death in a flash flood.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:31 PM on January 16, 2010


"(from the first link:) In the high country I would expect 5 to 10 feet of snow with significant snow of several feet down to 5,500 to 6,000 feet.

"Come again? TEN FEET?"


As a very rough rule of thumb one millimetre of rain equals one centimetre of snow. This varies greatly from place to place and specific conditions but if you're getting 12" of rain then somewhere around 10' of snow sounds just about right.

"Doucheness aside, the Detroit-Minneapolis-Chicago-Winnipeg-Fargo area does have the whole lack of 'weather and earthquakes that kill you' thing going on."

Well -45 can kill you just as easily as too much water. +42 and 90+%RH can kill you just as easily as too much water. A F5 tornado can kill you just as easily as too much water. And I don't know about those American places but Winnipeg gets flooding on a regular basis to boot and for similar reasons: lots of snow in the winter time, a heavy spring melt, and ground that is frozen two metres deep meaning all that water can't sink in anywhere and instead has to flow to the ocean which is a long way away.

But earthquakes, ya they don't get those. Personally I'd much rather the occasional earthquake than the death of a thousand cuts that is a heavy mosquito season.
posted by Mitheral at 2:32 PM on January 16, 2010


(copy/paste from a previous thread)

Keep in mind earthquakes are (1) infrequent, (2) short-lived, and (3) cause very few deaths (in the US, anyway). Earthquakes are the least-bad natural disaster. Only two earthquakes have killed more than 100 people in California (ever). Nine other quakes have killed more than 10. Of those 11 quakes, only four occured in the last 50 years.
Source: Deaths from Earthquakes in the United States (USGS).
posted by ryanrs at 2:48 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really can't wait for the pundits to try to spin a natural weather event, and how it either proves or disproves global warming. After all, all good science is based on isolated anecdotes. And then the televanglists will say something about God's wrath, which is always just really depressing for all involved.
Beck: Nation, this storm in California, something doesn't seem quite right. If there's global warming, why is there SNOW with it? I thought we were trading in snow for droughts! Or was it floods? Or global COOLING? [guffaws] Looks like Al Gore might need to tweak his whole "cow farts lead to tragedy" theory.

[chokes up]But it's not enough that a politician from the GOVERNMENT has fabricated a science theory and used GOVERNMENT FUNDING to create a faked consensus. Oh no. In order to act out his neo-nomadic agenda to stop industrialization, expect to see GOVERNMENT razings of privately owned factories. They're already doing it with GM. But that's the NICE part. [visible tears] These goons are going to send out their UNION THUGS to work up a furor about vaccines. After all, every damn child needs to be vaccinated, don't you know? And who cares if it happens to kill, oh gosh, say 1 in 4? [begin conniption fit, with a thin haze of spittle] THERE'S TOO MANY PEOPLE! WE NEED TO KILL ALL OF THEM! ESPECIALLY THE ONES WHO FILL OUT THE CENSUS! And before you say I'm crazy, TELL IT TO A GERMAN!
Al Gore's not as easy to make fun of as Glenn Beck, but I could see him citing this in new versions of his presentation. I appreciate what he's trying to do, but this kind of BS from both sides hurts the cause. Climate change is a scientific issue that is very complex. We need to teach people to evaluate it as such, rather than to boil it down to a crude political issue.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:01 PM on January 16, 2010


Nothing like a good Glenn Beck parody to illuminate this complex issue, I'm sure.
posted by ryanrs at 3:06 PM on January 16, 2010


Only two earthquakes have killed more than 100 people in California (ever).

Yes, but that same chart shows the SF 1906 earthquake killing at least 3000. (And my grandparents, who were both in that quake as small children, told me that the large number of deaths in Chinatown were deliberately not included in official counts to try to prevent scaring off private re-investment money from coming back into the city.)

I think many Californians, after getting through 6 and 7 magnitude earthquakes get false senses of security. "Our buildings are better built. They don't collapse like the poorly constructed buildings in Third World countries." They underestimate just how much damage an 8 or greater magnitude earthquake can do. There's not much quakeproofing you can do when one part of the land moves 10' relative another part. Buildings and bridges, no matter how well designed, simply get ripped apart.
posted by eye of newt at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rain? Well that's OK then. We could use a spot of rain up here in the bay area, and SoCal could use it even more.

But wait a minute- does this mean I'm going to have to slow down to 80 on the highway? CRAP! This is a DISASTER!
posted by happyroach at 3:13 PM on January 16, 2010


The 1906 earthquake didn't kill 3000 people, that was the fire. But lots of cities had great fires a hundred years ago. Today's urban cores are a lot less flammable.
posted by ryanrs at 3:14 PM on January 16, 2010


I live in one of the Delta counties. Levy failures are a big deal, and something to worry about. A great deal of Delta land is crop land, and are effectively man made islands buffered by the levees. Flooding is still a risk here. With a failure of the vast network of diversion canals and levees, billions would be wasted as cropland flooded, towns would flood, and the amount of water diverted south would be impacted. And that is just what happens in my area.

Californians forget about all this in summer, since it doesn't rain. Thats why multi-day storms are a big deal.
posted by shinyshiny at 3:15 PM on January 16, 2010


Hmmm... I'm halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. It's about 58 degrees (F) outside with a dash of wind. It's sunny through a thin layer of clouds so it's really bright outside. As a California/Bay Area native I can tell you that these are not the kinds of clouds that scream doom and gloom. We do need the rain, but we always need the rain. I look forward to the five waves of storms. Nothing like some good thunder and lightening to help you sleep like a baby. In my time here on earth, I've noticed that the only people who are afraid of earthquakes are non-natives. Oh no the bright sun suddenly dulled!!! Pray for us!!!
posted by wherever, whatever at 3:17 PM on January 16, 2010


But wait a minute- does this mean I'm going to have to slow down to 80 on the highway? CRAP! This is a DISASTER!

Oh no the bright sun suddenly dulled!!! Pray for us!!!

Yes, heavy rain fall in SoCal following a year's worth of massive wildfires are nothing to be worried about. We're all whining pussies and should just shut up.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:01 PM on January 16, 2010


It's pretty intense when it rains here (self-link to a video - this velocity of rain went on for about 4 hours). The ground, the drains, the way people learn to drive - none of that involves any kind of preparation for heavy rain conditions. This reaction is not about a bunch of sheltered privileged people being unable to cope with a bit of water from the sky. It's about us living in a desert and within an infrastructure that isn't supposed to receive that much water in one dumping.

Oh, and I'm British. I emigrated out here a year ago. If you were looking for confirmation from someone who knows about rain, there you go. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and find out if our resident gopher is going to drown and if there's anything I can do to help the little fella out.
posted by saturnine at 4:11 PM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to go and find out if our resident gopher is going to drown and if there's anything I can do to help the little fella out.

Has anyone else ever wondered how boy gophers meet up with girl gophers? As you're aimlessl;y tunneling around, what are the odds of meeting any gopher, let alone a hittable gopher?
posted by buggzzee23 at 4:14 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a California/Bay Area native I can tell you that these are not the kinds of clouds that scream doom and gloom.

Well, we'll find out, but I suspect your wild-assed guess is probably inferior to a universal prediction by multiple weather models.

When I was young, having weather forecasters was kind of a stupid joke... they just sort of made shit up. You could usually make a better guess yourself, just looking at the satellite pictures of the clouds.

Nowadays, weather forecasting is excellent for 72 hours in the future, fairly good at 1 week, and tolerable out to 2. If they say it's gonna be 70F and sunny tomorrow, or 48F and rainy, you can be pretty damn sure it'll be very close to that, both temperature- and precipitation-wise. That wasn't true at all, not so long ago.
posted by Malor at 4:19 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has anyone else ever wondered how boy gophers meet up with girl gophers?

Oh, they have little gopher rave parties. You don't hear much about them.... they're really underground.
posted by Malor at 4:20 PM on January 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


Speaking as a fellow Glendale resident (near Hoover HS) I nominate Hairy Lobster to be the official SoCal delegate to this thread.

Huge fires followed by massive snowfall followed by massive warm rains == holy shit territory ANYWHERE.
posted by chimaera at 4:21 PM on January 16, 2010


the only people who are afraid of earthquakes are non-natives

I'm sorry, but I beg to differ. Plenty of people I know are afraid of earthquakes, because we were 8 years old in 1994 and lived in the west valley, which was very hard hit by the Northridge quake. But the thing is that it doesn't pay to worry about them. You know they could happen and destroy everything you own and hurt people you care about and take out your local hospital and freeway, but it's an improbable fact that you're willing to put up with because you love the weather, your family lives here, you have a good job here, etc. There's nothing you can do to prepare for them other than live in a place you believe to be structurally sound. There's no warning sign that tells you to get out of town. You're lying in your bed, and suddenly you're awake, hearing the loudest noise you've ever heard in your life, your bedroom looks like a tornado went through it, the power's out, you smell gas, there's no running water, and the phone works only intermittently.

When I think about how bad an earthquake could be for my quality of life, it makes me want to leave town. But for many other, more immediately pressing reasons, I don't want to leave town, so I live in a state of denial. When you hear people laughing about earthquakes and what a nonissue they are, it's very hard to tell whether they're in denial, stupid, or naive. But definitely it's one of those three.

If you're not afraid of earthquakes, you haven't been in a serious one recently. They are nothing to sneeze at, and they're not a joke. For crying out loud, look at Haiti. Yes, our building codes are stricter, and I hope our infrastructure is more resilient, but a 6.8 did a LOT of damage in 1994, and many places took years to recover. Thankfully it was early in the morning and on a holiday (Martin Luther King Day, actually...coming right up) so people were off the roads and away from work. I know a few people who would almost certainly have been very injured or worse if they'd been at work or school.

There are a lot of hazards to deal with, living in California. Pretending that there aren't is folly. And wherever, whatever: if you read the links, it sounds like these storms are going to come in on a very fast wind. So you wouldn't be seeing their clouds yet anyway.
posted by crinklebat at 4:28 PM on January 16, 2010


Sierra and southern California Mountain Snowfall:

Here you will need more than one yard stick to measure the snowfall.


Wow. So is this thing also hitting New Mexico?
posted by angrycat at 4:28 PM on January 16, 2010


I'm not hatin' on California but I couldn't let this slide by...

No more milk or cheese, since California is the #1 dairy-producing state.

If California can't supply Michigan with milk, America's Dairyland(TM) will gladly step in and pick up the slack. Sure, our cows may not be cheerful, but bitter cows produce the tastiest cheese, it's a scientific fact.
posted by drezdn at 5:33 PM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, I've thought about moving to California for the weather quite a few times. On the other hand, I really like coats. Son of a bitch.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:40 PM on January 16, 2010


Man, I've thought about moving to California for the weather quite a few times. On the other hand, I really like coats. Son of a bitch.

People in San Diego break out the parkas when it gets below 60f.
posted by birdherder at 5:45 PM on January 16, 2010


And I don't know about those American places but Winnipeg gets flooding on a regular basis

The 1997 Red River flood hit Winnipeg, Grand Forks, and Fargo pretty bad, especially Grand Forks. The New York Times reports earlier this year: "Permanent Flood Solutions Just Out of Reach for Fargo."
posted by msbrauer at 5:57 PM on January 16, 2010


Not excited to drive hwy 17 for the next two weeks

Try to stay out of the right lane on the blind curves when it's really coming down. That's where you'll find rocks loosened from the hillsides waiting for you. I also know someone who had an assload of mud land on her windshield so she was blind for a few (terrifying) seconds until the wipers could plow it off.

--

I don't have flood insurance and live 1/2 mile (about 2 vertical feet) from the flooded-in-95, 98 and 99 Elks Lodge in the 100 year zone for the Guadalupe River, so I'll have my eye on the Santa Clara Valley Stream Gauges and Emergency Update pages so I'll know when to go over & get my sandbags.

Luckily, there's been a lot of work done on the Guadalupe to provide more capacity during storms and provide an uninhabited area (partially by buying & knocking down houses) that can be allowed to flood after the floods of 95 & 98. There's a neat picture in that last link of the Guadalupe Parkway flooded between Virginia Ave & I-280.
posted by morganw at 6:17 PM on January 16, 2010


People in San Diego break out the parkas when it gets below 60f.

I live in San Diego. I had a coworker who moved to Michigan. We would call him every couple of weeks that first year he moved there and say, "Boy it's chilly out here. Shawn is actually wearing long sleeves today!"

Seriously though, if you live here long enough you get acclimated to the weather and it feels that much worse when you go visit somewhere cold.
posted by zompus at 6:24 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap I did not expect this thread to be anywhere near this stupid. Must just be today.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 6:26 PM on January 16, 2010


Just started raining in downtown San Francisco.
posted by ryanrs at 6:31 PM on January 16, 2010


No more milk or cheese, since California is the #1 dairy-producing state.

You do realize that California is the #1 diary producer because of the way government subsidies are paid right? It's called the "Eau Claire Rule", the farther your farm is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin the bigger your government subsidy check.

Not hatin' just clarifyin'. I mean really, who doesn't want nice weather pretty much year round? People just need to understand that nothing comes without a price.

I can get all the milk and cheese I want nyah,nyah
posted by MikeMc at 6:36 PM on January 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're not afraid of earthquakes, you haven't been in a serious one recently.

My family first came to California about 160 years ago, and not one of us, in all those generations, has ever died in an earthquake. You were eight during Northridge -- yeah, that was a scary one, but I am older than you, and have lived through a lot more earthquakes, and I worry about them about as much as I worry about being killed in a terrorist attack. Which is to say, not at all. I am not in denial, or stupid, or naive, as you state must be the case for anyone who doesn't share your fear -- I'm just a lot more likely to get wiped out on the 134 during a rainstorm than I am to die in an earthquake.
posted by OolooKitty at 7:26 PM on January 16, 2010


Metafilter: an assload of mud landing on your windshield.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:43 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Doucheness aside, the Detroit-Minneapolis-Chicago-Winnipeg-Fargo area does have the whole lack of "weather and earthquakes that kill you" thing going on.

The 1997 Red River flood hit Winnipeg, Grand Forks, and Fargo pretty bad, especially Grand Forks.

I was 17 and living in Grand Forks when that happened. Senior year of high school, my parents were out of time for the first time ever without me. I woke up to air raid sirens (living near a military base you know what those sound like), and spent the next few days sandbagging, moving as much as I could to the upper floors of the house, and evacuating myself and the family pets to a friends house that was more than 1000' away from the river that was currently flooding to unprecedented levels. It was only due to the sheer luck of a nearly undetectable hill that only our basement flooded. After a couple/few weeks we were allowed back into town, and we spent it with very little services cleaning everything we could, and spray painting "debris" or something onto the various cars and refrigerators that had washed up on our lawn. Deaths were pretty rare, but the town was fairly well devastated.

The year before, a good friend of mine had to be interviewed by police, because he was one of the last people that had talked to a college student that had disappeared the night of a blizzard. There were several days where there were volunteers were visible every day, poking sticks into snowbanks, looking for a body. A while later, he was discovered in a van on campus. Theory is that he tried to walk home from a party while a little drunk in a blizzard, decided to take refuge in an unlocked van, fell asleep, and...

I live in Santa Monica now. I've been around LA for about a decade now, and I definitely laugh at the breathless reporting of a little bit of water falling out of the sky. Growing up in a climate where every winter you will die if you stay outside too long, it's awfully hard to take dampness seriously. But since then I've seen the torrential downfalls that can happen sometimes, and the inability of people here to deal with it, I know this is serious news for a lot of people around me.

I'm glad to be fairly far from serious flooding and mudslide worries, but earthquakes are still an issue. I have a lot of supplies that not everyone does, but there are some basics like days worth of water that I don't have. I should get on that, but the fact that you have to rotate it has kept me lazy.

We were lucky after the flood. FEMA was actually very useful to us. Fresh water was being delivered - it was somewhat disappointing when the Budweiser brand pallets that were dropped off at every house on the block were just cans of water, but I think of that every time I hear about people in disaster areas wanting for drinking water. There's a lot of things we ended up taking for granted, even though the people around me were all working their asses off to get things together.

Disasters are always going to be an unknown. They can happen everywhere. In my experience, at least in the short term, they cause people to come together and help each other with whatever resources are available. I can see this falling apart when the expectation of external assistance fades. So I hope that everyone realizes just how much it matters.
posted by flaterik at 7:59 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Out of time? Six rereadings and I miss that?

My parents were out of town obviously. They're not timelords.
posted by flaterik at 8:01 PM on January 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's called the "Eau Claire Rule"

Wow. I thought you were joking. I have never heard of that.
posted by Big_B at 8:20 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Still no rain in Sacramento, and by looking at the latest radar loop it look's like it is coming in much more north than predicted.
posted by Big_B at 8:21 PM on January 16, 2010


Also, I'm hoping no one dies all all we get out of this is insane snow at mammoth.

Because that's the important part of california precipitation.
posted by flaterik at 8:23 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


While trying to figure out exactly how much higher above sea level I am than the nearby river, I found a couple of neat resources at the USGS:

The National Map Seamless Server which lets you download any subset of the 1 arc second resolution National Elevation Dataset (NED). This is much cooler than the old 2 arc second Digital Elevation Model (DEM) datasets which had to be downloaded in 7.5 minute quadrangles. They're also working on 1/3 and 1/9th arc second databases and have Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data.

The National Map Viewer lets you get "spot elevation" for any location in the coterminous 48 states.
posted by morganw at 9:35 PM on January 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


"I am older than you, and have lived through a lot more earthquakes, and I worry about them about as much as I worry about being killed in a terrorist attack."

Then I would humbly suggest, as a fellow native Californian, that you don't worry enough.

I was near the epicenter of the relatively small 6.2 earthquake in Morgan Hill, south of San Jose, back in '84, and nearly had a large cabinet fall on me. Half the people had serious damage to their foundations. Some of the nearby houses slid off entirely, and caught on fire. What's more, Anderson Dam was damaged and could've easily broken, which would send a 30' wall of water into Morgan Hill, and up to 8' of water into San Jose, basically flooding out the Santa Clara Valley.

It is estimated that there's a 67 percent chance for at least one earthquake of magnitude 7 or larger in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1990 and 2020, with a very good chance that it would hit on the Hayward fault, which is already overdue.

We talk about the 6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake as if it were "the big one". The simple fact is, it was very fortuitous in its location, for a Bay Area quake, about as far away from major population centers as realistically possible... and yet a lot of the worst damage was 60+ miles away, to the point that if the quake were much stronger, we would've entirely lost a major bridge, rather than simply having to rebuild it.

So, what if it's a 7.0 quake on the Hayward Fault, right underneath major population areas, with shaking twice as strong as Loma Prieta, and most likely to be longer in duration? A study in '96 estimated such a quake would leave over 100,000 people homeless. I think it's safe to say that a truly catastrophic quake could easily kill thousands of people in this area.

So, while you're cavalier about earthquake risks being no worse than terrorism, a lot depends on location, location, location. And for those who live near several major faults that are already primed to go, it's a bit like asking a New Yorker what *they* think the risk of terrorism is to them.
posted by markkraft at 11:51 PM on January 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's safe to say that a truly catastrophic quake could easily kill thousands of people in this area.

And yet you are still far, far, far, far more likely to die in a car crash. Do you spend a lot of time being afraid of car crashes? Slipping in the shower? Falling down the stairs?

I think you're succumbing to the common human quirk of being more concerned with spectacular but low probability events than you are with far more likely but relatively unspectacular events. A big earthquake here in California would be very spectacular but there are a hell of a lot of things I'm much more likely to die from and I hardly give them a moment's thought from day to day.
posted by Justinian at 12:22 AM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish all the California haters would think for a minute. A foot of rain in one day would fuck up a lot of places. I live in southern Indiana and I know that much rain in one day would be in my house after 4 or 5 hours.
posted by irisclara at 12:51 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


California hate is OK as far as it goes, but what about the Belgians?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:54 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whats the news now, West Coast Mefites?
posted by The Whelk at 2:40 AM on January 17, 2010


It's still too early.

Some moderate rain in front of the major storm has already come ashore in the S.F. Bay Area with some snows happening in the Sierras, while a larger rain cell is looming off the shore of Northern California due west of Eureka, but these pale in comparison to what is on its way, with the first really big storm hitting around Monday.

The lastest post from Cliff Mass shows the latest model run for Monday, predicting very serious rain coming our way.
posted by markkraft at 3:33 AM on January 17, 2010


the common human quirk of being more concerned with spectacular but low probability events than you are with far more likely but relatively unspectacular events

"Terrorism" is the biggest red herring low probability event of them all. But which one do you think is more on the minds of the average American, even in LA or SF?

Anyway, a major earthquake in California is not exactly a "low probability" event. *Dying* in one is, of course, an unknown probability, since we don't know the strength or location of the next "big one." But an earthquake of significant magnitude is a certainty.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:05 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


An earthquake of power 7.5 or greater on the Hayward Fault would most certainly be a catastrophe for San Francisco. Much worse than what Katrina was. Yes, buildings and bridges are engineered very well these days. But when the earth moves up to ten feet in opposite directions, it cleaves gas, water, and electric lines in addition to destroying buildings. San Francisco is vulnerable because it is a peninsula - if the bridges connecting it to the East Bay and Marin are ruined, then the only way out of the city will be to the south, on roads that will themselves be damaged and even in their current state could not handle a mass evacuation. With gas and water lines cut, there will be fires again, most likely. If the quake is strong enough and power lines (above and below ground) are cut, it will be very difficult to reestablish power. Fresh water will quickly run out. Rescue will come from the south, but depending on the epicenter of the quake, San Jose may be ruined as well, impeding aid to the peninsula.

This is not just some fantasy that non-native Californians have. I've lived in Berkeley and LA and have lived through some pretty tame 5.0 quakes, they were fun more than anything else and I can see why people who have only ever lived through non-city-destroying quakes would be confident that no quake could ever raze a modern Californian city. But you have a lot of experts who would side against you, and indeed a massive quake in the Bay Area is almost unanimously at the top of the list when it comes to greatest possible natural disasters to hit the US.
posted by billysumday at 6:10 AM on January 17, 2010


That said, I would move back to the Bay Area in a heart beat. It is a great place to live and is very beautiful. People should just be very prepared for what they will do when the Big One hits, what their evacuation plan is, how to contact friends and family, etc. If there is indeed a huge quake there, there will most likely be massive damage to infrastructure and buildings, but hopefully a limited amount of loss of life. More lives would/will be saved if emergency relief efforts are well thought out ahead of time.
posted by billysumday at 6:14 AM on January 17, 2010


That said, what a crazy place to put 20 million people.

FORTY. There are nearly 40 million people in California. And a lot of them live in not-very-crazy floodplains.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:31 AM on January 17, 2010


I meant the 20 million in SoCal. Living in NoCal would almost make dying in an earthquake (or flood) an acceptable risk. But LA? Yeeech.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:59 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm really glad to see people in this thread distinguish between regions in California when it comes to the weather. And don't listen to the tiresome troll; California actually has the stablest weather in the continental US, and Alaska gets more earthquakes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:07 AM on January 17, 2010


I woke up early, & in a fit of Disaster Preparation, I picked up enough water to cover my household for about five days. ready.gov suggests 1 gallon of water per day per person, with at least 72 hours' worth.

I might go get canned food, if I can think of anything that I'd like. I smell an AskMe question, there.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:21 AM on January 17, 2010


Pronoiac: What's your 72-hour disaster preparedness kit like?
posted by billysumday at 7:27 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hope it's not like the Great Flood of 1861-62:
Beginning on Christmas Eve, 1861, and continuing into early 1862, an extreme series of storms lasting 45 days struck California. The storms caused severe flooding, turning the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea, forcing the State Capital to be moved from Sacramento to San Francisco for a time, and requiring Governor Leland Stanford to take a rowboat to his inauguration. William Brewer, author of “Up and down California,” wrote on January 19, 1862, “The great central valley of the state is under water—the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys—a region 250 to 300 miles long and an average of at least twenty miles wide, or probably three to three and a half millions of acres!” In southern California lakes were formed in the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles Basin. The Santa Ana River tripled its highest-ever estimated discharge, cutting arroyos into the southern California landscape and obliterating the ironically named Agua Mansa (Smooth Water), then the largest community between New Mexico and Los Angeles. The storms wiped out nearly a third of the taxable land in California, leaving the State bankrupt.
"The USGS Multi Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) is preparing a new emergency-preparedness scenario, called ARkStorm, to address massive U.S. West Coast storms analogous to those that devastated California in 1861–62. Storms of this magnitude are projected to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change."
posted by rtha at 7:30 AM on January 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here's an exhaustive post about the risk of a catastrophic earthquake in the Bay Area and a list of preventative measures that should be taken. Though the focus is more macro than micro, it's a useful catalog of all the reasons why San Francisco could be in trouble and what should be done about it.
posted by billysumday at 7:31 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Damn, rtha, that's disconcerting. Thanks for the link.
posted by billysumday at 7:39 AM on January 17, 2010


billysumday: Pronoiac: What's your 72-hour disaster preparedness kit like?

More like this. I'm currently focusing on food, because, uh, convenient 24-hour supermarket.

Also, I belatedly realized, because I'm hungry.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:58 AM on January 17, 2010


Here are NOAA's hazardous weather and hydrologic outlook alerts for the North Bay area.
posted by ghostbee at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2010


Anyway, a major earthquake in California is not exactly a "low probability" event. *Dying* in one is, of course, an unknown probability,

It's an unknown but low probability event. We've got hundreds of years of data. You seem to be saying that since we don't know exactly which people will be in the earthquake we can't have any idea of what someone's risk is. That's not how it works; we have no idea which people will be in car accidents, either, but we can assign relative risks.

But an earthquake of significant magnitude is a certainty.

Eventually, yes. Probably relatively soon. But we don't know exactly where or when or how "significant".

Which is no different than most other risks. Earthquakes are a certainty. So are many thousands of people dying in car accidents. And we know that, barring a disaster of unparalleled and shocking magnitude, the number of people who die in car accidents in California vastly outnumbers the number of people who die in earthquakes. And most people aren't "scared" of car accidents.

Earthquakes should be taken seriously and if you live here in Los Angeles you should know what to do if one occurs. This is no different than a car accident.
posted by Justinian at 10:33 AM on January 17, 2010


Not exactly a low probability event:

Q: What is the probability that an earthquake will occur in the Bay Area?

A: Within the next 30 years the probability is 62% that an EQ measuring >=6.7 will occur in the Bay Area.

posted by gingerbeer at 11:18 AM on January 17, 2010


No, the odds of dying in an earthquake in California is a low probability event.
posted by Justinian at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2010


Here are NOAA's hazardous weather and hydrologic outlook alerts for the North Bay area.

Wow! The tone of that alert looks like a disaster movie treatment with the ALL CAPS and the day-by-day countdown to destruction:
.DAY ONE...SUNDAY AND SUNDAY NIGHT

AN APPROACHING STORM SYSTEM WILL BRING RAIN AND GUSTY WINDS TODAY AND TONIGHT.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY

A SERIES OF STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO IMPACT CALIFORNIA DURING THE WEEK....
There is no day eight? Oh, that's the title of the movie!

Reminds me of Tina Fey's impression of Arnold: "I promise to be the #1 disaster governor in the nation. We've got fire, we've got floods and I'm working with Jerry Bruckeheimer on a tsunami"

So this is for the North Bay which usually does get the worst of it (I'm looking at you Russian River), but the hydrology outlook reminds me I should keep my eye on the smaller Los Gatos creek as well as the Guadalupe River. I live on a drained marsh between the two and the majority of work in recent years has been to provide capacity in the Guadalupe to avoid flooding downtown. The Los Gatos Creek flows into the G.R., but if debris causes a clog under an overpass upstream, those channels and designated floodplains won't do us any good.
posted by morganw at 12:39 PM on January 17, 2010


Not exactly an exact science:

Q: Are earthquake probabilities or forecasts the same as prediction?

A: No. Probabilities are estimated from the rate of aftershocks and these are sometimes confused with the prediction of a particular event.


I'm not saying that there isn't a very real threat of a catastrophic earthquaking happing. It could happen right now or next week. But that statistic is a based on the frequency of past earthquakes. Just because we're "due" for one doesn't mean we're getting one with any certainty in a specific period of time.

I'm prepared for a quake to happen just as I was prepared for tornados when I lived in Texas. But I'm not "worried" about it in the sense it keeps me up at night.
posted by birdherder at 1:05 PM on January 17, 2010


rtha: "storms analogous to those that devastated California in 1861–62"

you have the germ of not only a great MeFi post but a friggin' bestseller with a movie close behind there, rtha. Hope getting the prospectus together won't prevent a full-fledged post!
posted by mwhybark at 10:02 PM on January 17, 2010


Then I would humbly suggest, as a fellow native Californian, that you don't worry enough.

And worry will accomplish what, exactly? If I worry enough, will a building not land on me? I'm not denying that a large earthquake could and probably will happen at some point, and I could very well suffer injury or death in it. And yeah, I live near a big fault, and yeah, I've had earthquake damage in the past. If worry or fear would keep that from happening again, I guess I'd devote some time to that, but since my emotional state has no effect on tectonic plates, again, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:35 PM on January 17, 2010


The consensus here seems to be Loma Prieta and Northridge were the two really big quakes* that seriously fucked things up, yes?

Those two earthquakes each killed about 60 people. To put that in perspective, that's how many motorists die in California every week. So don't let the threat of earthquakes keep you up at night. Worry about the cars instead.

*Anybody remember the Sylmar quake?
posted by ryanrs at 10:56 PM on January 17, 2010


(Actually, don't let any fears keep you up at night. A good night's sleep is important for your health. But if you must worry, focus on the cars. Those fuckers really are out to get you.)
posted by ryanrs at 11:04 PM on January 17, 2010


Okay, so, California people: how's it going? Weather Channel says it's started to rain. Have there been any problems? Fingers crossed here on the near-east coast that you get the rain you need and no more than that.
posted by billysumday at 8:13 AM on January 18, 2010


billysumday: it takes a long time for the rain to start mattering. The first couple days won't do that much. Once the ground is saturated, the runoff starts, and then things slowly get ugly if the rain continues. So you're probably not going to hear much until Wednesday or so.
posted by Malor at 8:31 AM on January 18, 2010



I don't have flood insurance and live 1/2 mile (about 2 vertical feet) from the flooded-in-95, 98 and 99 Elks Lodge in the 100 year zone for the Guadalupe River


Holy crap, we live in the apartment complex directly next to this. Good thing I'm on the second floor, at least.
posted by Zaximus at 9:07 AM on January 18, 2010


Okay, so, California people: how's it going?

I tried to go into work today but after 15 minutes on Hwy 17 I realized that it's too windy and all the low spots are flooded. I'm not worried about getting across but getting back will suck with the numerous accidents and stalled cars (all on a two lane hwy). After driving through a giant puddle and hearing my drive belts slip, I decided to turn back around and just work from a coffee shop.

If this rain continues at this rate, it will only get worse.
posted by special-k at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2010


here in oakland it rained buckets overnight with gusty wind but I haven't started loading my stuffed animals into the ark yet.
posted by supermedusa at 10:09 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, so, California people: how's it going?

It started around noon yesterday here and continued pretty much all afternoon and night. This morning around 9 I heard a break and rushed to take my dog out for a walk...now here it is 10:30 and it still hasn't started back up. I agree with Malor that if there are going to be complications, they won't be today - but I'm heartened that there are any breaks in the rain at all.
posted by crinklebat at 10:28 AM on January 18, 2010


So glad I turned around. Hwy 17 is a total fucking mess.
posted by special-k at 10:56 AM on January 18, 2010


This morning was one of the fastest and easiest commuting days I have ever had to my Downtown L.A. office.

Of course, I learned to drive in Michigan, where I had to contend with ice storms and downed traffic lights every winter, so there's that.
posted by The World Famous at 11:08 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Barely any rain at all so far today where I am. This is one slow-moving rainocalypse.
posted by Justinian at 11:15 AM on January 18, 2010


fourcheesemac : I have another proposal, though: resettle Detroit with the people of Port-au-Prince.

As someone who lives in a city with weather very similar to Detroit, I wouldn't want to wish that on anyone used to a tropical climate. Sure, there are generally no earthquakes here in the midwest, but living in an area with a 100°F range between sub-zero and fucking hot just seems cruel to anyone who hasn't grown up here.

Still, having a strong influx of voodoo (err, Vodou) and the related culture into the region would be a lot of awesome.
posted by quin at 11:52 AM on January 18, 2010


Rainpocalypse stopped abruptly here too and the sun came out. And the traffic cleared up. So I made it to work after all :)
posted by special-k at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2010


The rain stopped here (mid-Peninsula) about 2 hours ago and we just had some sun. But it was coming down exceptionally hard early this morning and the usual street corners had already started flooding. The bigger issue seems to be the wind, which is blowing much more than usual. That's the sort of thing that tends to take out power and trees, which causes more of a mess when the rain does start up. It looks pretty black towards the west so I expect it'll start a downpour again soon. The facilities people on the campus where I am seem to be taking the rain break opportunity to clear out questionable tree branches.

I grew up in Canada with fierce thunderstorms in the summer and big snow in the winter. The rain and wind doesn't bother me (in fact, I get pretty excited about anything that could actually be called "weather" and I nerd out completely around high winds) but we are not especially well set up in our infrastructure here for this kind of event. Already when it was raining this morning I could hear fire engine sirens pretty much nonstop. The hysteria is kind of funny but the effects of something like this can be quite serious for some people. Good luck to anyone who's got a house on a hillside or near a creek!
posted by marylynn at 1:52 PM on January 18, 2010


This has been extremely disappointing. No thunderstorms, no high wind, no heavy rain.

I think the meteorologists were just looking for attention. Fucking meteorologists.
posted by Justinian at 2:49 PM on January 18, 2010


It was beautiful and warm and sunny! Here in Virginia, where we are visiting. Not sorry to miss the rain, but I know it'll be there when we get home...
posted by rtha at 3:20 PM on January 18, 2010


It is now sunny out here in Los Angeles. Maybe I should be a weather guy 'cause they went from CHANCE OF HEAVY PRECIPITATION 100% a couple hours ago to CHANCE OF RAIN 35% now. Someone doesn't know what 100% means.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's been raining hard on and off here in southwestern Riverside County. I'm not too worried, though.
posted by Dreamcast at 3:51 PM on January 18, 2010


I am so delighted at how tame this day turned out to be. It's been sunny and nice for hours down here and I got to let my dog out after all. Hoping for similar for the rest of the week. However, it seems not everyone was so lucky, at least down here.

Don't draw any conclusions about the rest of the week from today's commute traffic, though, folks: all schools were off today and lots of other jobs too.
posted by crinklebat at 4:50 PM on January 18, 2010


From waaaayyyyy upthread......
Georgia .............., people fighting over the very last supplies of milk and crisco

I am really having a lot of trouble picturing this.

<>
posted by SLC Mom at 6:50 PM on January 18, 2010


Georgia .............., people fighting over the very last supplies of milk and crisco

I am really having a lot of trouble picturing this.


The trick is to cover your hands in wax paper first.

Oh, wait. That's the trick for fighting with Crisco.
posted by The World Famous at 6:59 PM on January 18, 2010


I've added two time-lapse cloud movies to my California rainocalypse (thanks for the name Justinian) flickr photoset. They were shot at 30 seconds per frame and play at 30fps, so 900x real-time & the longer (better) 9 second one is 2+ hours. I'll fix my setup, get some longer captures & upload them as we go through days 3-7 before we wash into the ocean on day 8.
posted by morganw at 7:21 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone doesn't know what 100% means.
What are you talking about ? It poured and poured 3 pm Sunday and all morning long in south bay and east Hollywood.

From my office on Sunset we couldn't see the Griffith Park Observatory the clouds and rain were so heavy. Hell, we couldn't even see the hill it sits on. And its like what, all of about half a mile away?

It cleared in the PM, and went to sun, which will be a nice break. I am thinking of it as a little intermission before the rest of the week.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:59 PM on January 18, 2010


Serious rain, wind with associated thunder hitting the Silicon Valley area at this moment, to an extent that makes the prior rainstorm look rather weak. I would be rather surprised if this isn't at least half-an-inch an hour, at this moment. Supposedly, it's supposed to only get stronger until noon, with tomorrow's storm being far larger and the strongest of the lot. Would not want to be driving on highway 17 through the coastal mountains to the west of here right now, as it must be raining buckets. Would not want to be anywhere near the Bonny Dune/Davenport area to the west, where they had the fires in the mountains up above them, or really, anywhere along the coastal highway over there right now.

The rain is fast-moving, but after checking the radar, it looks like the strongest part of the band coming in is rotating in a way that the area west of Sacramento around Chico is going to get hit with the strongest part of the storm for the longest time. If there are going to be any flooding problems today, I would expect them to get the worst of it. Driving from Sacramento to S.F. today is going to be "fun".
posted by markkraft at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2010


Would not want to be driving on highway 17 through the coastal mountains to the west of here right now, as it must be raining buckets.

Unfortunately I have to get on 17 to Santa Cruz in a few minutes.
posted by special-k at 7:50 AM on January 19, 2010


Meh. So far in the south bay area it's just rain. Although the stevens creek trail underpass under the 101 was closed due to high water in the creek. Otehrwise, meh. Weather.
posted by GuyZero at 9:50 AM on January 19, 2010


It was meh indeed. More rain in the east side of SC mountains than the west.
posted by special-k at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2010


Here in Menlo Park, we have sun. Though I understand that power was out at Stanford this morning due to lightning. I have a class at the College of San Mateo and got texts that they have power out as well and everything's closed today but on for tonight so far. I'm guessing this is all microclimates at work?!
posted by marylynn at 11:03 AM on January 19, 2010


Power was out in spots all over the bay area - Palo Alto was out over the weekend and apparently Cupertino was out this morning in spots. The heavy winds have blown stuff down but that's not really once-a-century weather. More like once-every-three years. As much as I love big old trees and the shade they provide, you get some heavy winds and a few of them blow down.
posted by GuyZero at 11:13 AM on January 19, 2010


Power was out in patches due to wind in Long Beach last night. In addition to the pouring rain, thunder and lightning, we were just issued a tornado warning.
posted by sweetmarie at 1:03 PM on January 19, 2010


Rain is sideways, heaviest I've ever seen in OC, loud thunder (haven't seen lightning), and we just got a tornado warning. I really wasn't expecting this!!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2010


Yeah the maps are showing a lot of heavy weather passing just south or just north of L.A.. It's barely drizzling where I'm at right now although it was raining moderately heavy earlier today.
posted by Justinian at 1:21 PM on January 19, 2010


I hope this becomes a super-long thread where Southern California weather is reported in real time every few minutes for the next several years.
posted by The World Famous at 1:26 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's Pat Robertson going to say about a tornado in LA?
posted by GuyZero at 1:28 PM on January 19, 2010


What's Pat Robertson going to say about a tornado in LA?

What do you think he's going to say?

That's right: God is punishing Hollywood because he loves Conan and is mad at Leno.
posted by billysumday at 1:32 PM on January 19, 2010


Thunder and lightning, and Tornado watch in the South Bay of LA! That happens once every couple of years or so.

Poured in the morning, and we had a fabulous 180 degree rain bow in the afternoon. Absolutely vivid.

*Striving to make The World Faomous's dreams come true*
posted by SLC Mom at 7:29 PM on January 19, 2010


This storm has been kind of a let-down here in San Francisco. I understand there was some heavy rain early this morning, but I slept through it. Also, I tend to discount the Highway 17 problems. Even a tiny bit of rain causes problems on Highway 17. It's the wicked witch of the Santa Cruz commute.

Bottom line: I've walked to work every day for the last five days and I've yet to get wet.
posted by ryanrs at 8:03 PM on January 19, 2010


In line at my local pharmacy I overheard someone saying that the one thunderclap I heard all day was caused by lightning that hit Santa Monica City Hall. I believe it - I work five blocks from there and the pause between the lightning and thunder was briefer than I've ever experienced before in my life.

It cleared up off and on this afternoon. It's nice that these storms are giving us some brief breaks to walk puppies and go out to look at the sun.

Also, I'm a remote student at Stanford and all my friends from school were making fun of just how many damn text messages, emails and phone calls we got from Stanford today telling us there was a power outage, or telling us it was over and we should come to class. One friend said his parents got them too. I got one while I was at the doctor, and another while I was at work. Stanford University apparently needs to tone down the "emergency response" system.
posted by crinklebat at 11:02 PM on January 19, 2010


The weather seems to be getting increasingly erratic and unpredictable. It's like there's some sort of widespread change taking place.

eywa does not take sides; only protects the balance of life :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 5:43 AM on January 20, 2010


Hang in there, Californians!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:03 AM on January 20, 2010


Wow. the NOAA radar loop for the San Jose area looks pretty hideous at the moment. [Java link, bound to change with time so this comment may quickly be outdated.]
posted by hippybear at 7:16 AM on January 20, 2010


Wow. the NOAA radar loop for the San Jose area looks pretty hideous at the moment. [Java link, bound to change with time so this comment may quickly be outdated.]

Turned out not so bad. A few mudslides this morning on 17 but everything totally cleared up by mid-day.
posted by special-k at 8:38 PM on January 20, 2010


Aside from flooding around the low spots in the Bay Area and a few trees that toppled onto the freeway it hasn't been so bad around these parts. I mean sure there was the 20 foot wave warnings at the ocean and Highway 17 was fucked, but Highway 17 is always fucked. CHP incidents were way up, but you'd expect that around here because drivers are idiots in the rain in the Bay Area. The only thing pissing me off about all this is that our stretch of I-80 that was just repaved over the Summer/Fall is already eroding. Huge potholes are littering the road out there and since they're filled with rain anyone who hits them is sure to pop a tire. Damn you CalTrans!

We've gone about the last few days with relatively little disruption, even seeing some sun and blue skies peeking through the clouds. There has been just ONE thunderous BOOM, but it was a doozy that shook the whole house and moved our patio table and chairs over a few inches.
posted by wherever, whatever at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2010


Uh, HAIL? In SoCal? Insane.
posted by billysumday at 3:45 AM on January 22, 2010


The thunder and lightning were huge and awesome but way too distant. Last years storms were way more dramatic in terms of getting up close to the special effects.

Sonoma Creek was pushing its banks (and overflowing them in a few spots) yesterday, and running fast enough that I wouldn't allow a kid anywhere near it. All the roadside ditches were at capacity and backing up at some of the narrower or more badly maintained culverts. A fallen tree did damage to the high school's history department building but caused no injuries, and another one was down in the street leading to road closure. Street and road conditions are awful, littered with bits of tree and debris, visibility is poor, and as expected there are plenty of people who drive recklessly in the rain. There are CalTrans trucks swarming all over the place, apparently trying to deal with drainage issues or at least get the "Flooded" signs up in front of the spots they can do nothing about.

It's not the apocalypse, but we're really going to need the next couple of days to dry out before the rain begins anew. My guess is if the rains next week are of any significance, we'll start seeing more mudslide stories in the news as all those Russian River communities and homes in the Oakland hills start getting threatened.

It's very pretty out there, though. The hills are green, and because of the weird, dry weather you're seeing a lot of trees put out early budding and growth (which is bad, but looks nice).

Northern California only has two seasons: Fire season and mudslide season. Looks like fire season is finally over.
posted by majick at 6:35 AM on January 22, 2010


Listening to San Francisco based podcasts this week has reaffirmed the fact that Californians are complete weather pussies.
posted by aerotive at 6:09 PM on January 22, 2010


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