A Little Rain, A Lot
With the unexpectedly heavy rains of last week, we’ve had our first official taste of, well, something other than summer. Granted, our true winter season, for what it’s worth, is likely to still be at least two or three months off and may not bring with it another rainstorm even as impressive as the one last week. And true to So Cal form, we went from a chilly but welcome mid-60s couple of days to a triple digit heat wave in the span of less than a week. Don’t get me started.
Be that as it may, you didn’t need to be out in our recent, short-lived inclement weather incident to know that a storm was predicted, was on its way, was almost here, had “drenched” the San Francisco Bay area, was now “hammering” Santa Barbara County, then was “raging” through Ventura County and soon to “burst upon the scene” in Northern Los Angeles County. You couldn’t possibly missed have missed it. Our local TV stations cover a rainstorm like nowhere else on the planet. Seriously. To watch the televised “StormWatch!!” or “StormTracker!!” or “Wild Weather!!” coverage of any given rain incident, you’d think Southern California was regularly in the path of record-breaking monsoons.
Just last week, TV news crews were deployed to locations across the city to set up their live shots of raindrops hitting a sidewalk, pedestrians stampeding for cover to escape the moisture or a car tire splashing dramatically through a pothole filled with …. gasp … water!!! Breathless reporters decked out head-to-toe in network-issued arctic survival gear did man-on-the-street interviews to get spontaneous reactions to the horrific onslaught of wild winter weather.
Out-of-town visitors to Southern California are often highly amused by our hyperactive media coverage of even the slightest cold snap or rainfall. In other parts of the country, rain is rain. Clouds are clouds. They gather, drop some rain on the ground, it runs off or soaks into the dirt and the sun comes back out. Things dry out. Flowers grow. Life goes on. Not here where rain is big news.
However, as predictable as the local news coverage of a rainstorm might be, there’s another, more dangerous certainty that arrives with each and every storm. It’s the certainty of rain-caused traffic accidents on our local highways and byways (whatever a byway is).
Last Wednesday, I drove to a mid-morning client meeting in Pasadena just as the storm was hitting its stride. On the short drive from La Crescenta to Old Town, I counted a solo car spinout on La Crescenta Avenue, another solo accident into the freeway divider at the always-flooded section of the 210 freeway near the Ocean View overpass, another one-car wreck near the Gould Avenue off ramp, a multiple car smash up on the westbound side of the freeway just before the Arroyo Seco bridge, another solo car wipe out near Lincoln Avenue and then, the mother of all freeway follies, a jackknifed big rig blocking all lanes of the heavily traveled westbound 134/210 transition.
In other words, just another rainy day demolition derby on Southern California streets.
It made me wonder once again why local drivers can’t handle a little rain? Maybe it’s those mysterious, back-and-forth wiper thingies that mesmerize drivers when they suddenly come to life before their eyes. Whatever it is, the Auto Club even has a dedicated web page to educate So Cal drivers about driving in the rain. It recommends taking specific precautions, including; 1. Slow down; 2. Leave more distance between cars; 3. Drive in the center lane, and; 4. Avoid distractions (like big rigs and concrete bridge pillars!).
I have a better idea – just stay home and watch the Eyewitless Doppler 10,000 team coverage of the storm. I promise it will be more entertaining and – except for the occasional horrific umbrella malfunction – hardly anyone ever gets hurt.
I’ll see you ’round town.