“African American people in Montgomery walked everywhere, rather than ride the bus. They walked great distances in all weather, winter and summer.” Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970
Monday is Martin Luther King Day, a time to reflect on his accomplishments. His dreams were an extension of those set down by America’s founding fathers, including from The Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We are indebted to those who braved the inclement weather to make these dreams a reality.
On a lighter note, if Rip Van Winkle awakened in the Crescenta Valley (instead of the Catskills) after sleeping for 20 years, could he determine by the weather the season in which he tumbled? Hmm … may be summer? No, not quite hot enough. Okay, spring it is. Wrong again, the trees are bare with no sign of buds. Winter? Could be, but with temperatures 80 plus? Don’t think so. So as the story goes, “He was sorely perplexed.”
Since winter began, just three weeks ago, daytime highs have reached 90 degrees. Accompanied by strong Santa Ana winds and low humidity, red flag alerts have been posted. Local mountains and those to the north report historically low snow levels. Along the coast, last year’s bathing suits are worn by those enjoying the summer-like weather. Nine-foot waves draw professional surfers to our shores. These unusual conditions, especially in contrast to last year, make us wonder, “What is going on here?”
Time for answers from climatologists and meteorologists. My information comes from several sources, including the National Weather Service and Bill Patzert from JPL. After analyzing their opinions, I try to find commonality. When a general trend is apparent, this becomes my writing base.
What a difference a year makes! Last year, the Sierras were buried in a record breaking 661.1 inches of snow and here in the Crescenta Valley we received almost 35 inches of rain. This year tells quite a different story. Skiers are resigned to slopes of man-made snow. Our five inches of rain now needs to be supplemented by sprinklers. Luckily reservoirs are in still full from last year. This year, so far, has been a typical La Niña one – dry. Last year’s La Nina was supplemented by a “Pineapple Express,” a meteorological phenomena that delivers major precipitation from Hawaii to our west coast.
Hanging off the coastline presently is a cut off low – just enough to tease us with promises of rain – and some offshore winds over the weekend.
Over the next week temperatures look to be cooler with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. Beyond this, not this weekend but next, all scientific eyes are on a possible major pattern change. A more typical frontal system of Pacific storms appears to be forming. As always with matters of nature – this is subject to change.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at