Monday, March 28, 2016

El Niño—or then again, perhaps not.

El Niño, March ‘16

“Ha, ha, ha" chortled the weatherman; "you can never say 'definitely' in weather forecasting, but this winter's El Niño looks like a done deal. There‘s no way it can’t happen.” Instantly, signs sprouted along the roadways: Get your sandbags here! We have emergency rations, and you're gonna need them!! Water! Matches! Firewood! Stock Up NOW!!!" After five years of crippling drought, we in Southern California were ecstatic. A water bonanza! What could possibly go wrong?

Obviously something did, or I wouldn’t be writing this. "El Niño", the little boy charged with the important job of bringing water to the parched West Coast of the United States of America, has apparently been waylaid by a meteorological old man in a scruffy raincoat, handing out candy in the Seattle area. (Seattle has enjoyed its wettest winter on record, thank you very much.) El Niño continues his journey south, lavishing water on the Oregon coast (as if they need it) and Northern California (ditto, but at least it keeps the redwoods and marijuana plants happy); but just about the time that he reaches San Luis Obispo, about 100 miles north of Ojai where I live in desiccated splendor, the after effects of his sugar high kick in. He curls up, exhausted, and falls fast asleep.

This is why, in the massive face of this record El Niño, Ojai’s rainfall total for the year is precisely .05" higher than last year. That's right; one half of one tenth of an inch. There is still hope: our alleged "rainy season" lasts until the end of April. Maybe in the next few weeks, having indulged his sweet tooth, El Niño will deign to come on down to SoCal and dump at least 20 inches of blessed rainfall on our thirsty landscape.

Otherwise, I’m afraid the weathermen are going to have to eat their words. And since there won’t be any cooling draft of H20 to wet their pipes, I'm sorry to say that I hope they choke on them.

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