This weekend we finally got some good, soaking rain. While other parts of the U.S. have gotten too much rain, we’ve had a very dry Summer. There was a time when you could tell newcomers to Del Norte County (CA), because they were the ones watering their lawns during the Summer. People who had lived here a few years knew that you could let the lawn start to go a bit golden, but we’d get enough rain over the Summer, and early enough in the Autumn, to make it green again in no time. About ten years ago, that changed. We didn’t water our lawn, and there wasn’t enough rain to keep it from actually dying. Dandelions moved into the dead patches, and it hasn’t been the same since (though dandelions do stay green with less water).
I moved to Del Norte County in 1976, when the average rainfall was well over 100 inches a year. Several months would go by when there was rain every day. (And those weren’t El Nino or La Nina years.) Things slowly began changing, and now the local newspaper acts like it’s a big deal when we get over 80 inches of rain in one year.
A few years ago I took an environmental science class, and we talked about the distribution of deserts across the globe. A lot of factors go into creating a desert, such as mountain ranges, weather patterns, and sometimes degradation of the environment (usually by humans). Most deserts occur in two belts around the Earth, one slightly north and one slightly south of the equator. I can’t remember all the details, but it has something to do with the heat of the equator rising from the Earth and then curling back down upon it on either side. What is interesting, is that over the last 25 years scientists have noticed that these belts of deserts (or the potential for becoming a desert) are growing wider, moving farther away from the equator. That means the “typical” weather of Los Angeles is moving north, toward San Francisco. It may also be a factor in our area getting significantly less rain than it did 30 years ago.
I enjoyed the rain today — staying indoors, lighting the pellet stove, reading books, cooking a meal. Am happy to see the rain washing the trees and bushes, and hopefully greening the lawn. I may not be as content if it continues for several weeks. But I remember what the weather used to be like, and am concerned about continued changes . . .