“Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.”
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher & statesman, 4 BC-65 AD
We arrived home safely Monday evening, reflective of mind and road weary. Driving into the Crescenta Valley had its usual therapeutic effect. Wind-swept skies were clear, revealing the deep blue of October. An off-shore breeze held temperatures at a balmy 90 degrees. Welcome home!
A little background information is necessary before I tell of our journey north.
Californians are grateful for rain after years of drought. Although the northern part of the state received the lion’s share, we had little complaint with the above-average measurements here. Why can’t we just call it good and enjoy the filled-to-the-brim lakes and reservoirs? Because years with record precipitation are often the deadliest and most devastating if they follow fires. The main contributing factor to fires is the abundance of combustible material. Millions of trees died due to drought when lack of water left them weakened and vulnerable to insect infestations. Then the rain began in earnest; grasses and chaparral flourished, growing rapidly both in height and density. Including dead trees, the fuel is waiting. Come fall, the Santa Ana winds typically begin in Southern California and Diablo winds in the S.F. Bay Area, northward. Both wind patterns are the same in nature ¬– hot and dry offshore from the northeast – but are referred to by their own regional names.
Keep in mind the above quotation and scenario as my story unfolds.
Our travel destination? A family wedding on the Mendocino Coast. The trip was uneventful until we hit San Francisco. Heavy smoke blanketed the city, the sun a dim red hue. We continued north, through the fire-ravaged wine country. Going east, beyond the cool and misty redwoods, we finally landed on the beyond-breathtaking Mendocino coastline. Witnessing both a life-changing disaster – fire – and a life-changing celebration – wedding – within a day’s time is unfathomable. Ah, life.
Low pressure over the Pacific NW will briefly create cooler temperatures. With the weekend comes the heat. Once again an offshore flow will develop, resulting in gusty Santa Ana winds, record temperatures, low humidity and, according to the NWS, an “elevated fire weather condition.”
As Seneca wrote, “Life is the wind and the rain…” Still waiting on the rain…
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at email@example.com.