Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Today's post is dedicated to Mark Heyka
Western Montana's #1 TV Weatherman
and a great bass (that's singer not fish)

Virga, as seen through the sunset
Pebble Beach, Crescent City California
October 31st, 2006

Alexandre Verga
Pic taken from
Most Beautiful Man Website

As I recall, Heinrich Böll, writing in his Irisches Tagebuch says "Das Regen ist heir etwas Absolut." (Rain here is an absolute.) I started thinking of that last night when the sound of rain and wind kept me awake and Gypsy very antsy. When my parents moved to the North Coast in 1973, they were told they'd soon grow webbed feet because the average annual rainfall of 110 inches all fell during a six-month period. The area was known as a temperate rain forest. Once, driving back to Berkeley after a weekend visit, I heard a Crescent City radio announcer read the weather forecast. Twenty minutes later, he admitted he'd made up the forecast and then he read the official NOAA weather report which was word-for-word what he'd said earlier. He claimed that it wasn't hard to make up weather reports in Del Norte County because there were only two. From April to October the report would say, "Morning and evening fog, clearing late afternoon." From October to April it would read "Rain today, tonight and tomorrow."

Since I moved to Montana in 1975, I haven't spent a lot of time in Smith River--three to four days at a stretch, once each year. Recently I moved my visits from summertime to my birthday in October, but I never noticed that the weather patterns were changing. I wasn't here long enough to get any sense of what was now considered "normal." When in October, 2004, I drove my Saab 900S convertible 250 miles up the Oregon Coast with the top down, it seemed only a fluke. I was driving between the rain drops, don't ya know.

If you do a Google search on "Del Norte County California" + Annual Precipitation Records, you get an amazing amount of information--some of which might be useful. Although I haven't been able to find any tables that just lay out what, exactly, the annual precipitation has been, I have picked up other fascinating tidbits. For instance, thanks to the Bulletin of the California Lichen Society (Volume 10, Number 1, Summer 2003), I learned that California's highest annual precipitation was recorded in eastern Del Norte County at 150 inches. They compared this with an area in the South Island of New Zealand which recorded 275 inches. I have learned that the health and growth of our native redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) is dependent not so much on winter rains as on summer fog. I've even learned that certain soils in Glenn and Colusa Counties are clayey, while other soils in Kern County are sandy. (Glenn, Colusa and Kern are all California counties at some distance from Del Norte. Kern, for example, at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, is the northern neighbor of Los Angeles County. And while Glenn and Colusa Counties are neighbors in the upper Sacramento Valley, half of California lies between them and Kern County. Don't ask me what their soil characteristics have to do with precipitation in Del Norte County. I couldn't understand the jargon in the scientific paper that showed up in my Google search.)

Summer fog on the coastal trail
North of the Klamath River
Del Norte County, California
July 17th, 2006

Still, the fact of rain—or its absence—remains. Since I arrived in mid February 2006, we have had much more sunshine than rain. If I remember right, there were only 4 days of recorded precipitation in February. March brought rain—but nothing like I remember from the 70s. My friend Carl and I keep joking that we’ll catch up with our reading, our housework, sorting our photographs when the rain starts. In the meantime, it’s sunny. Let’s get out there and shoot (with our cameras, of course). Even the summer fogs were light in comparison to my memories. Fog prevented us from seeing the ocean on one hike along the coast north of the Klamath River last Summer, but for the most part the skies have seemed clear. That may now have changed. Yesterday the sky was overcast most of the day, and when I went to the store for my Yucatan Lime Soup ingredients, I had to use the wipers to clear the mist from the windshield. Among my “household” tasks yesterday, I had to set an appointment to have the transmission fluid changed in the Volvo. This involves a 5 hour round-trip drive to Medford, Oregon—the closest authorized Volvo service center. That drive means crossing the Coastal Mountains and entering the Siskiyou Range in southern Oregon. This time of year, that can mean snow—and lots of heavy, wet snow. Having made the appointment for the ninth of January, I sent Carl an e-mail so that he could put the date on his calendar for a Costco run. He replied with a weather forecast indicating that the rains (and mountain snows) were arriving soon. There’s no doubt we need the precipitation. There’s also no doubt that should there be snow on US 199 next Tuesday, I’ll cancel the appointment. For the time being, I guess we just wait it out. Christmas day saw four inches of rain fall in Crescent City. Most of the rest of the week between Christmas and New Years was so bright and sunny that Carl and I were out shooting away with no thought of our cameras getting wet. If the rainy season has now started in earnest, only time will tell. Until then, it’s time to do some housework, sort the photographs, and catch up on my reading.

View to the north from Indian Sands Parking Lot
Curry County, Oregon
December 29th, 2006

1 comment:

debmeyers said...

Bryan great job. I especially love the bridge. and the beautiful man.