Weather in the Foothills

I saw a snail, On the garden gate.

Moving so slow, Oblivious of fate.

He inched along, And took his time.

Said not a word, Like some tiny mime.

He knew he’d make it, Soon enough.

Sure as the clouds, Float up above.

~ Snail on the Garden Gate by Juan Olivarez

Where did all the snails go? I don’t remember the last time I met up with one of these garden visitors. We used to be inundated with them. As a little girl in the ’60s, I often heard, “Go outside and play!” Creativity was the key to fun and nature was often the toybox. An adventurous mood could lead you down into the wash to catch lizards. If calm was desired, you need look no further than your own backyard. This was where our topic – the snail – would be found. Notice the usage of the past tense “was.” Our shelled friends have all but disappeared.

According to scientists and many garden enthusiasts, young and old alike, snail numbers have drastically declined over the past five years. Several factors have come into play that substantiate this. The climate of the southwest includes long periods of drought. No problem; people just watered their gardens more frequently – green lawns and happy snails. Over the years the population grew, putting a strain on water resources. Then, from 2011 to 2016, there was significantly less rainfall. Water rationing became necessary, which led to a greater emphasis of planting drought-tolerant plants and mulching. Many traditional landscape designs of lush green lawns and shrubs were torn out due to their thirsty nature. Across the Southland, communities enacted mandatory water conservation ordinances, restricting sprinkler irrigation. The snail’s environment was drastically changed and became uninhabitable. Their homes – once cool, wet and damp – are hot and dry. Also, the snails’ food sources are no longer the same.

A high-pressure system is expected producing mild weather today through Saturday. Come Sunday the prediction includes increasing clouds with a very very slight chance of rain. If you are a snail, read no further.

Next week’s forecast includes dry and warm days. Looking to February for rain…


Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter
for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at