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Water from the Skies!

July 18th, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Long Beach, tourism, Travel

A lesson on how bad the drought has been in the “Golden (tilting towards brown) State”.

It rained here today, and Californians were more joyful, verging on giddy, in reacting to it than are Emiratis, for whom rain is even more rare.

We were on Fletcher Avenue, behind Griffith Park in Los Angeles, when we saw two seemingly spontaneous reactions to “water from the sky”.

–The first was a man in a small car, maybe even a Mini. He had spun the tires at the previous stoplight, which we thought was odd, and then he pulled up next to us at the next red light. We wondered if he wanted to race us, in our sedate rented Chevrolet.

I was in the passenger seat, and I could see motion next to me, peripherally, and I turned to look at the guy, maybe 35, with his hands thrust out his open window, palms up, so the rain could strike them.

After he saw that I had noticed, he widened his hands slightly and shrugged his shoulders in a whole-body “what’s this?!?” gesture, with puzzled, eyebrows-raised face to match.

He was suggesting, I am sure, it had been so long since he saw rain that he didn’t know what it was.

When the light went green, he spun his tires, on the film of water over the oily street — presumably just because he could, for a change — and was gone into the distance.

–Not 100 yards later, a tall blonde woman had pulled her car over to the curb and was standing with her back to the driver’s side door, with arms raised and spread in the air and her head turned up towards the cloudy sky, drops pelting her face. It looked almost as if she were having a religious experience — or acting one out for the benefit of the rest of us.

Not even in Abu Dhabi, which is pure desert, do we see that.

But, then, Abu Dhabi had enjoyed rain more recently than had Southern California.

We had left the Sand Castle in Pismo Beach a few hours earlier, and we noticed the clouds — the edge of the hurricane Dolores, pushing up from the south — as we drove south, and in Ventura we got a dousing so heavy we had the wipers on high speed.

But SoCal being SoCal, we figured that was it. The rare-in-July storms tend to be brief and fairly weak.

Then we got into L.A., and it got darker and darker, and the rain began, steady and measured, as we visited relatives in Glassell Park, and when we exited their home two hours later … it was still raining! Harder than before! We got wet walking to the car!

It rained nonstop as we drove to Long Beach, and traffic was worse than usual, though well-behaved. SoCal drivers have so often been warned of speeding in the first rains of the season (slick road surfaces) that hardly anyone sped, when they had the chance.

It was the sort of steady rain, lasting into the night, that places in drought really need. Enough to douse a wildfire, here or there, and at least moisten the tinder-dry underbrush in the mountains, perhaps reducing the chance of other wildfires.

But it did not run so hard as to create dangerous run-offs — at least in the L.A. basin.

(That was not the case out in the Mojave Desert, where parts of Interstate 10 collapsed during flash-flooding.)

Various newspapers were quick to file stories about how the storm was not nearly enough to put a dent in the drought. Reservoirs remain low and water conservation measure remain in place.

But it was significant rain, “super historic” rain, measuring up to two inches in some places — in a region where 15 inches is the annual average. It was more rain than Southern California had seen in all of January, usually one of the wettest months here.

It seemed like a gift from above.

Tourists might not be happy about it — we couldn’t help but think of whoever moved into the Pismo house after we left, stuck inside looking at rain.

But for a day, at least, California’s water reserves increased rather than decreased. And residents could go back to believing it could rain here again. They had just seen it with their own eyes.



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