Weather in the Foothills

“There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter …”
Rachel Carson 1907-1964  ~ Writer, scientist, and marine biologist

This time of year is one of calm. Children are settled back at school with the excitement of summer left behind. Grapes have been harvested for the year at Deukmejian. The pumpkin crops are in, awaiting their fate as jack-o-lanterns, pies or maybe fall decorations. The holiday season, for the time being, is still a distant thought.

Calm and mild weather dominates – gone are the heat waves of summer and the cold rains of winter have not yet arrived. In contrast to people this time of year, the animal world is on the move – a survival instinct based on the need for food, water, shelter and reproduction. We are often oblivious as many species of animals and insects are migrating around us, overhead, and along the coastline. Watch out!

The words above illustrate how quickly the weather changes and how I should wait and see before beginning to write. As predicted last Friday, we had a brief thundershower. And on Saturday it was 95 degrees – summer’s final encore and grand finale!

As this week got underway, any doubts of fall weather and the coming winter were washed away. Two cold storms were predicted to leave the first measurable rainfall of the 2011-12 season. Driven by the onset of cooler weather and instinct, animals begin their journeys. Some remain here and make southern California their winter home while many continue southward to the warmer equatorial climates.

Compared to the great migration of wildebeests in east Africa, the action in our part of the world may seem quite tame. But read on …

After summer feeding in the cold Arctic waters, the California grey, humpback and blue whales are visible along our coast on their way to give birth in the warm waters off Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. In a year’s time these migrants may travel 15,000 miles.

One of the most beautiful fall travelers are Monarch butterflies. These may be seen in our own backyards as they stop for a sip of nectar on their way south. It often takes three or four generations to complete the full migration loop. From the largest mammals on earth to the most elegant of insects, this event takes place.

I didn’t forget our feathered friends, but it is not “just for the birds!”

Hope your umbrellas were open as a strong and early-season storm arrived early Wednesday morning bringing steady rain and windy conditions. At this rate, rain totals may exceed two inches. To the north, the Sierras received their first snow.

A few showers may linger into Thursday. The next seven days look clear with high temperatures in the 70s and lows in the 50s.

However: no weather forecast is cast in stone!

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