Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Rain effects

Yesterday, I started a very different post focused on our recent rain.  I was happy to see the first real rainfall since last March.  According to one account, this has been the driest start to our winter rainy season since 1930.  My rain barrels were empty and I'd been forced to run our irrigation system during a period that usually finds it off more often than on.  After frequent fizzled forecasts of rain dating back to November, I turned a deaf ear on the rain forecasts I heard last week so, when a gentle rain started on Monday, I was delighted.  I wasn't even annoyed when I got drenched in a brief deluge as I headed across a parking lot to the grocery store or when I discovered that my beautiful Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) had been stripped of all its blooms overnight.

The photo on the left was taken Sunday afternoon.  The one in the middle was taken Tuesday morning.  The Bauhinia's flowers (right) blanket the area below the tree and petals are scattered throughout the garden.  I'd been puzzled by why the tree was so floriferous this year and now I have the explanation: until now we'd been virtually rain-free.


My joy over the rain dimmed markedly when details came in on the mudslides in Santa Barbara County, still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the Thomas Fire, now classified as the worst in California's recorded history.  At least 15 people were killed by mudslides there that swamped houses, throwing some off their foundations, and burying everything in their paths.  Two dozen people are still missing and dozens more were injured.  Mudslides are a fact of life in California following major wildfires but it's easy to underestimate their force.  Santa Barbara County issued a mandatory evacuation order for 7000 people but many ignored it.  Following a year of heartbreaking natural disasters, here's another one.  Mother Nature can be brutal.

The rain here wasn't nearly as heavy or intense as it was to the north of us.  Our roof-top weather station recorded just over an inch of rain over a 2-day period.  Most of it came down slowly.  Late afternoon sunshine on both Monday and Tuesday produced rainbows.

This rainbow appeared over the Los Angeles Harbor late Monday afternoon

On Tuesday, the rainbow sat closer to Angel's Gate, the spot through which ships enter and exit the harbor.  A cruise ship, the Island Princess, sat in port (left) awaiting departure.


I wondered if I could catch the cruise ship leaving port with the rainbow shining over it but Mother Nature and the Island Princess did not conspire to make that happen as I stood there shivering and snapping more photos.

As the sun went down, the rainbow gradually faded into the surrounding clouds.  The Island Princess turned on its lights but remained sitting at port, eventually heading to Fort Lauderdale under the cover of night (with scheduled stops in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Columbia and Aruba).


There's another chance of light rain 8 days from now and several more opportunities in the long-term forecast over the next 2 months but it doesn't look like like we'll have the kind of rain we had last year, which is probably fortunate for the burn areas.  In my own case, everything is thoroughly soaked and the irrigation system is off.  I estimate I've accumulated a little over 320 gallons of rainwater among my 3 barrels too.  That will do for now.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

36 comments:

  1. Oh, those mudslide images floating across my screen have been absolutely awful to see. I'm glad you got it in more measured and well-paced quantities, that you're safe, and that your barrels are filled again. Sorry about your Bauhinia tree, but I have to say I have enjoyed your photos of it for as long as it lasted. It's a fabulously beautiful tree!

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    1. Although all the open flowers on the Bauhinia are scattered hither and yon, there are still buds and they appear undamaged so I should get some more flowers, probably before Bloom Day!

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  2. The mudslides tempered my joy at the rain also. It was wonderful though to see all the foliage washed clean, and all the plants sparkling with raindrops as the sun emerged.

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    1. The rain does such a better job at watering than an irrigation system too. Everything in the lath house got ample rainwater as well so the design was perfect.

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  3. I heard about the mudslides on the news and wondered if the rain that caused them had reached you. It's good your garden got some, but the news has been so horrific for California this year. Great shots of the rainbow!

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    1. While a fast-moving and heavy rainstorm often creates flooding worries in our foothill areas, massive mudslides like this are most frequently part of the fire cycle. The poor folks in the Thomas Fire burn area had much too little time to prepare for rain as intense as they had thrown at them.

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  4. Love all the pictures -- beautiful, big and crisp. Mother Nature can be beautiful and deadly the next moment. The mudslide story is very tragic. Southern CA is constantly facing one calamity after another :-( but I am glad to see that you are doing good.

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    1. I've been wondering what could have been done to prevent the slides, KL. I heard something about spray-on mulch designed to help hold the soil but I don't know how effective it is or if it's widely available. Sandbags and trenches didn't do it.

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  5. Yes, I was worrying about you, too, but hoped you were safe since you escaped the fires. The pictures are devastating but probably not nearly as devastating as actually being in the affected areas. I'm glad your water storage has been replenished and the plants are no doubt much happier now.

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    1. Thanks for the concern, Barbara! I was surprised to hear that our little city was handing out free sandbags in advance of this storm as we hadn't been affected by the fires but then there are lots of hills and canyons in the area that probably do flood when the rain comes hard and fast. In any case we're fine and I'm at least at 67% of my water storage capacity.

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  6. Rain here too, though it wasn't our 1st storm we had a very dry December and Nov. I think out last decent rain was in October. What a mess down in SB. There were flash flood warnings for our burn areas as well, but our climate and geography can handle the moisture better , though there were a few back road rock slide events. I need to work on my rain collection system (or lack there of)before I turn around and it's May.

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    1. I remember driving past the aftermath of the La Conchita landslide off the 101 freeway in 2005. This one looks just as horrific but it's more widespread.

      The current spin on rain collection seems to be focused more on retaining rainwater in the soil than storing it in tanks but personally I think pursuing both prongs is useful. At least I feel less guilty using stored rainwater to coddle the thirstier plants in my collection.

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    2. In my experience, I don't need to worry about in-ground watering til around May. My collection is for containers for the most part.What I would really like is to be able use collected water for the containers up until July.

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    3. Best wishes in finding both the right place for a tank and the right tank, Kathy. My biggest issue was that the best places for the tank (the spot with the greatest roof surface to feed the tank) were also the most visible - most tanks, even the really good ones, aren't attractive. Also, avoid tanks that are at all translucent, especially if it will receive any sun exposure - that's a mistake I made. (Algae also isn't attractive.)

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  7. Also following the mudslides via someone on Google Plus. She is OK but worried about friends and family.

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    1. It's heartbreaking to hear about people looking for their loved ones in the muck. A newscaster interviewed a man searching for his elderly mother on the morning news and he was interviewed by a second person for the evening news so she's clearly still among the missing. I can't even imagine the pain of that situation.

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  8. Hi Kris, You must have similarly sized rain barrels as I do. I'm also at about 340 gallons. Do you have the slimline Bushman tanks? I love that rainbow!

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    1. I have 50-, 160-, and 265-gallon tanks, Alys. The last one is indeed from the Bushman series. Unfortunately, it's attached to the garage rather than the house so the roof-space is substantially smaller but that location was the best spot for a tank that large. (The other 2 tanks are attached to the house.) You'd probably laugh but I fill plastic trugs with water streaming down a rain chain attached to the house and transfer it to the large tank manually when I can. Of course, I have to be home during a downpour to make that exercise feasible.

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  9. I haven't been watering much except containers, so this soaking is long overdue here. So much salt and mineral buildup from endless months on municipal water -- an inch of rain sure helps to flush that out!

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    1. This was a miserably long dry period, Denise. I'm glad of the break and hope we do indeed get the rain predicted by the extended forecasts. In the interim, though, I understand that the nasty ridge of high pressure is moving back into place and will be driving temps back up near 80F.

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  10. Kris, I'm glad your garden is finally getting rain. I have trouble imagining so many months without rain! 2 weeks without rain is considered drought here. I hope everything gets very green after the rain in your beautiful garden!

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    1. Rain is usually a winter phenomenon here, MDN,so we're used to months passing between rain between April and October. But getting no rain in October, November and December makes some of us more than a little crazy.

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  11. What an incredibly beautiful rainbow scene! But the mudslides out there are just awful. No words. I'm glad you're OK and your garden is happy. Take care!

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    1. During last year's heavier-than-usual rains we experienced some flooding and even local freeway closures, Beth, but this rain wasn't nearly that heavy, at least not here. Sadly, Santa Barbara and Ventura got much more rain than we did and, with fewer shrubs and trees to retain the moisture after the fire, the soil gave way.

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  12. It was with great horror I watched coverage of the Santa Barbara area and their catastrophic mud slides. I’m glad you’re only getting good, helpful rains.

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    1. I saw the after effect of the La Conchita landslide in Ventura County in 2005 but the Montecito slides appear much, much worse - and I didn't think that was possible.

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  13. The images of the Santa Barbara area mud slides are heart wrenching. Nature can indeed be brutal! I'm glad she's being a bit more gentle to your garden.

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    1. No ill effects here but then our landscape is intact with everything, hopefully, deeply rooted to hold onto the rain when it comes.

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  14. Beautiful rainbows and illuminated cloud pix, glad you got a bit of rain for your garden and barrels. So heartbreaking about the mudslides on top of the fires. It feels biblical. I cannot imagine it.
    Your garden is probably leaping forward after getting rain - looking forward to seeing the results. :)

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    1. I look forward to seeing those results too, Eliza!

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  15. So glad you have gotten some rain, Kris - I've been hoping the rain was much gentler for you than the tragic mess we've been seeing from Santa Barbara! Your 320 gallons sound terrific and make me think I had better look into rain barrels eventually. A bit of that rain even made it out to here... :)

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  16. It's good that you've got rain, and that you're OK. The mud slide was on our TV news and it was shocking. The sky photos are beautiful.

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    1. The mudslide news continues to be miserable here. The force of it was unfathomable.

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  17. I'm so glad you got some rain. Supposedly more than 3" here in the Sacramento area over a 2-day period. California poppy seedlings going NUTS (as are the weeds). I hope more rain will be headed your way.

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    1. That's a LOT of rain (by California standards anyway). I sowed more California poppy seeds prior to the rain here as last years's crop has shown no sign of planning a return.

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