Monday, December 01, 2014

Reflections: Drought affecting Southern CA (including Mt. Wilson)

I was in southern California for the week of November 17th when I began my series on Mt. Wilson. As fate would have it, there were about 48 hours of Red Flag Warnings for areas east of where I was staying north of San Diego. If memory serves, the Red Flag Warnings included the Angeles National Forest where Mt. Wilson is located.

Before going to southern California I was aware of the severe drought that according to my my meteorologist friends in souther California has been ongoing for three years. As fate would have it, there is a rain storm expected this week in Southern California, and several of these storms will be needed to alleviate the drought in Southern California. I wonder what will happen if there is another year of extreme to exceptional drought?

As I write this, Southern California ranges from severe to exceptional drought depending on the exact location. I believe but am not certain that Mt. Wilson lies in an area that is in an exceptional drought (the most severe drought category). For information on the current status of droughts in the U.S. go to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

As you can guess while I was in San Diego County, I was very much aware of the drought and the fire danger. I did my best to use as little water as possible, but admit that some of my bad and wasteful water habits were a little hard to dispel. But I got better as the week wore on. I thought of my friends at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, wondering how they were making out. I suspect that everyone in southern California is in the same boat, more or less, as my friends at the Mount Wilson Observatory — too little water and serious water conservation efforts are under way.

I was and am scared for all of Southern California and all the other dry wildfire prone areas out west. I think that I am more scared now that I recently spent a week in Southern California. Whether or not there are active Red Flag Warnings, it won’t take that much for a wildfire to start that could, depending on winds and other factors, threaten Mount Wilson Observatory, Palomar Observatory and other residences, schools, research centers and businesses in Southern California. I also know that CAL FIRE and their sister wildland firefighting agencies (on the ground and in the air) are good at what they do. Stay safe everyone.

I am hoping for a wet winter in drought affected areas out west.

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