In spite of PhDs and supercomputers, I have observed in The Old Farmer’s Almanac having as good or better record for tracking weather. The natural world – with and without man’s intervention – is often unpredictable. After the firestorms particularly in southern California last month, residents knew it would only be a matter of time before the winter rains came and turned the barren hillsides into avalanches of mud. Today mud, rain and debris adds insult to ashen injury. Newscasters will converge on the latest personal tragedy, but other people will also mobilize to render aid, help clean up and show their compassion and humanity.
Across the country, last week in New England and other parts of the Northeast, a blizzard some were likening to an icy hurricane made life difficult; the Southwest was balmy and dry. Perhaps on one winter Sunday morning, a frozen water heater supply pipe in an attic burst; for someone else, it may have been navigating sixty miles along unplowed Virginia highway (without snow tires) when an overnight snow caught everyone by surprise. Or equally resilient, a Pennsylvania widow in her 70s, shovels ten-foot drifts of Lake (Erie)-effect snow every winter to get to her car. In the Southeast and Appalachia, weather inflicts misery most years. “If the crick don’t rise” (and flood the house) is not a quaint form of speech. In Norfolk, Virginia, with the threat of an approaching hurricane, ships put to sea; residents ashore advise newcomers how to avoid the oddly deep ditches on either side of local roads. For the unwary, hurricanes and late summer downpours may turn cars into submarines.
In California and along the West Coast, a severe earthquake – once or twice in a person’s lifetime – randomly strikes. Few flee the state because of activity along the San Andreas fault. People adapt equally to the weather. When it rains in winter, fire season the following year may be bad. Sunshine and predictable temperatures offset even those who lose their property to wildfire. They rebuild. In 2017, wine country was devastated by wildfire, then southern California from Ventura northwest to Santa Barbara and to the south, part of Riverside county and northern San Diego county went ablaze as well.
Wildfires is the natural disaster that most Californians fear. It affects most Californians as most of the population live in the regions that prior residents and stewards have done their best and worst to preserve from fire. It may take decades for the land to recover. But Nature heals itself in time. So I do not spend a lot of time worrying about the weather or climate science or climate change. I take care of my property and help others where I am able.