Friday, January 6, 2017

Glorious Gray Skies

Most years, the annual the Rose Parade in Pasadena, broadcast around the world, proceeds under crystal blue skies on the first or second day of January.  It's only rained 10 times in the parade's 128 year history and, although it didn't rain during Monday's parade, the skies above were gray.  Gray skies don't mesh with people's perceptions of sunny Southern California.



But, for those of us who've struggled with drought for 6 years, those gray skies are to be celebrated, not reviled.  Gray skies brought more rain in December than Los Angeles has seen in the last 6 years and that trend seems set to continue into January and possibly beyond.

Nothing much was expected from the storm that arrived Wednesday night; however, a soft, gentle rain continued overnight and left us socked in Thursday morning.  It felt as if we were living inside a cloud.

The Los Angeles Harbor was invisible

The view from the front door was hazy

What lay beyond our front hedge was shrouded in mist


The rain continued until near noon on Thursday and our roof-top weather station registered 0.72/inch.  The rain flattened the Narcissi by the back door.



But it made the birds happy.



And gave plants a special glow.



The sun made a brief appearance mid-afternoon on Thursday, before the clouds closed in around us again.



Meanwhile, my husband's efforts to calibrate the accuracy of our weather station continue.  The apparatus he set up before Christmas was refined.  I was provided charts showing the variability in the data collected during the last storm of 2016.

This is what happens when you marry a scientist.  You get a lot of charts.


Once he was satisfied with the accuracy of his test gauges, one was mounted on the roof next to our weather station and another was positioned alongside the neighbor's weather station across the street to assess whether the station's position might account for the differences measured earlier in the amount of rain registered by the test gauges and the neighbor's weather station.

Yes, my husband climbed up on top of the roof Thursday morning, in the rain, to read his test gauge


I have yet to receive my updated chart but it now appears clear that the station mounted on our roof consistently underestimates the actual amount of rainfall in our location.  The evaluation has now moved on to determining the underlying mechanical or other problem responsible for this.  For my part, I'm just glad to know that we got a good soaking, that my rain barrels are full, and that our total rain for this season is already well ahead of last year's level.  It's sunny this morning but another rainstorm is due tomorrow.  Let it pour.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

30 comments:

  1. Gray skies are here again
    Put on a happy face ....

    Love it, absolutely love it!

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    1. It's almost hard to believe, isn't it?!

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  2. Wow, I've never seen your place in the mist before! It's a great look :-).

    I used to love "It Never Rains in Southern California" as a kid. Even then I was dreaming of living in California some day!

    Right now, the weather forecast predicts 6 (SIX!) inches of rain for Davis over the next week, 2 inches for tomorrow alone. I don't quite know whether to believe that or not. We never get that much rain.

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    1. I saw an article on the "atmospheric river" due to hit NorCal. I hope we're not benefiting from the rain at your expense up north, Gerhard. Glad as I am to finally see some rain at last, I hate to think that it might cause serious damage along the way. Stay safe!

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  3. Replies
    1. It's an utterly unexpected shift in what was gloomily forecast to be a extra dry La Nina year, Donna.

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  4. Hi Kris, I am as excited and joyful about the rain as your are!
    I don't have a professional weather station, but when I look at my plants I know just by there apprearance that we got a good amount of rain this winter so far. They look happy, plush, and GREEN! It is almost as if we have returned to the weather that was normal when we moved to San Diego almost 10 years ago. As you know, I have many roses in my garden, which are not exactly known for their drought tolerance and I hope that they will have a great spring flush this year, due to all the rainfall.
    As a gardener I am happy as a clam especially with the perspective of more rain to come.
    Maybe, just maybe 2017 will be an awesome garden year in Southern California after all!
    Warmly,
    Christina

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  5. Good news (except maybe for your drought-needing plants as you mentioned) and beautiful grey garden photos!

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    1. It's a really remarkable shift, Tim. I'm still hesitant to believe it's going to last.

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  6. That looks delicious!

    For Cape Town they say if we don't save more water, we will be forbidden to water the garden with municipal water. Then we will have to organise our grey water!

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    1. I hope your fellow citizens rally round, Diana. California as a whole did well in hitting the state's target but some areas, mine included, fell short to their district targets. While our household did better than the target, not everyone was on board; however, we faced only financial penalties, not the threat of having our municipal supply cut. That might have prompted better compliance - or possibly just a lot of lawsuits.

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  7. Aren't Left-Brainers wonderful? ;) I just saw on the weather that all of CA is due to get rain, with central and north getting the most. Hope you get a good amount!

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    1. The forecasts keep shifting. At present, for this location, it's showing just under 3/4th of an inch, mostly Sunday night into Monday but then we got much more from the Wednesday-Thursday storm than had been predicted.

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  8. Your misty photos are so cool! It's kind of amazing that you got enough rain to flatten your Narcissi.

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    1. That clump of Narcissi is just under the roof-line and, although there's a gutter, I think a drip factor was involved in flattening the flowers. It's happened before.

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  9. It's just fabulous, Kris! And funny, in a way, because that is what I remember LA winter looking like from, well... quite a few years ago now! (We moved away in 1980.) I love those charts, too - all the better if he can prove you're getting even more rain! ;-)

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    1. Well, even assuming that our weather station habitually underestimates our rain totals, the current season-to-date total of 5.52 inches is not far shy of our annual total of 5.65 inches for the prior season. Any way you cut it, we're doing better than last year.

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  10. Happy to see your rain Kris ! We are going to get dumped on this weekend, my yard is saturated , but it will be good for reservoirs and the water table.

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    1. We're saturated even here so I can only imagine the situation up your way. It'd be wonderful if Mother Nature could do a better job parsing out the rainfall - not that I'm looking askance at the gift. I hope you make it through the coming epic storm unscathed, Kathy!

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  11. Your husband's weather station looks amazing; I should measure the rainfall here to be more accurate in my assessments of dry, wet or normal years. Your plants look so happy in the rain. I find it very irritating that my plants chosen to tolerate drought always look better after some rain! And the same plants look fabulous in the UK where they must receive much more water than here.

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    1. Your perceptions are right on point, Christina. Most of my drought tolerant plants are happier with a good dose of rain. I suppose some of the succulents could rot if the current trend continues indefinitely but, for now, everything's good.

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  12. It's wonderful isn't it to be outside without the sun burning into your skin? I've been outside all day long a lot of the time. Yes, those graphs...Alan got a "cooking for nerds" book full of graphs--he was so excited about the graphs! Different curves as to how ovens warm up! Ooooh! Catnip for an engineer.

    Our area shows a staggering 7.5" for the season. Holding our breath, hoping for at least "normal" rainfall in the end.

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    1. Those nerds in our lives do share some common traits. "Normal" rainfall would be wonderful. Our season-to-date total is comparable, assuming I factor in the adjustment suggested by my husband's most recent calibrations.

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  13. Your hazy rainy pictures are pretty Kris, and I wish your husband as available as a weather station installer. I would love to have something like that here.

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    1. Oh, you wouldn't want the funky DIY set-up he created to calibrate the accuracy of the system he bought me earlier, Loree. It requires regular visits up to the roof with a special measuring stick. And the purchased model's accuracy is clearly a problem, yet to be resolved.

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  14. I am so glad you are getting much needed rain! Could it be that your long drought will end this year? We also are experiencing lots of gray skies. We received over three inches of rain one day last week, and more since then. No complaints!

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    1. I understand that Northern California is widely regarded as being no longer in drought. Central and Southern California haven't been upgraded that far but the fact that there's no ridge of high pressure holding the rain at bay, at least for now, is promising.

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  15. So lovely to see your garden in the rain - your plants must be so relieved.

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    1. Both the garden and the gardener have sighed in relief, Julie. We've already had more rain this season than we had during the entire last year.

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