Hurriquake (#360)

We had a little excitement over the weekend. Historic excitement, even.

Southern California has its share of disasters. When I moved west, I knew I was trading in hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards, and locusts (or at least cicadas) for earthquakes and wildfires. (My son Dalton thinks this was a shit trade; he is green with envy every winter, when his cousins get “snow days” and have no school.)

My partner Andy thought he was leaving hurricanes when he moved from Hawaii. You know why? Because meteorologists have long said Southern California’s coastal waters were too cold for a hurricane to survive and the winds send storms back out to the Pacific.

Last week, Hurricane Hilary made a beeline for us. Thanks to the fossil fuel industry’s greed, the Pacific Ocean has warmed up quite a bit.

Now, technically, Hilary was downgraded to a tropical storm before crossing over from Mexico into the United States. So, yes, we still haven’t officially had a hurricane (let me get that out before white bros start “well actually-ing” the crap out of my comments section). But SoCal and its Maine-like water temperatures were supposed to be relatively safe from tropical storms, too.

Fuck you, Exxon.

Next up on our bingo card: ice-storm, probably. Courtesy of Shell and all the white men insisting on driving jacked up pickup trucks to prove their toxic masculinity. May all y’all drive those trucks into the rising waters and get swept away in a rush of double irony.

Even though meteorologists were always very clear that Hilary would only be a tropical storm by the time she reached us, a tropical storm still meant way more rainfall than SoCal usually gets. 4 inches of rain is a pittance on the East Coast. In SoCal, we get maybe 10 inches a year—4 inches is a DELUGE! In our inland deserts? Death Valley gets 2 inches annually.

So on Friday, Dalton and I cleaned out the rain gutters. (He’s young enough that climbing on the roof is exciting, plus he’s lighter than his parents and less likely to damage the shingles, plus didn’t you know conservatives are bringing back child labor?) After the city cut down the seven trees around our house, gutter-cleaning was far easier than in past years, but in the rain gutters Dalton discovered dirt, 3 drill bits, one entire rusted drill nose/ bit, and several metal cylinders (probably from our solar installation last year).

Meanwhile, Andy reapplied caulk around the roof vents. He tucked away all his pots and gardening supplies in the garage and shed. Any light furniture, yard signs, and cushions went into the garage.

We were ready for the worst, even as we watched Hilary’s projected storm track move further and further from the coast.

Normally, we get strong afternoon winds blowing in from the ocean. Saturday, those winds died. Andy informed me that this was typical pre-hurricane weather: hot, humid, and still.

SoCal’s nighttime temperatures normally drop as much as 20 degrees, thanks to our lack of humidity.

Sunday morning, as Hilary approached, was even hotter than Saturday afternoon. When I checked the doppler, the majority of the rain was passing to the east of us.

Occasionally the sky would spit, but we didn’t get light rain until about 11 AM.

It didn’t cool off a darn thing.

This was my phone yesterday.

At about 2:40 PM, the rainfall got heavier. As I shifted in my chair to look out the window, the house seemed to move. I had a split second to wonder if the barometric pressure changes were giving me vertigo before my phone started screaming “Emergency Alert!”

One flooding alert for Hilary.

And one for a 5.5 earthquake.

As SoCal social media alternated between gleeful “#Hurriquake” and gloomy “#FML,” thankfully someone in Los Angeles office of the National Weather Service quickly tweeted that a tsunami was NOT expected, post-earthquake.

Alas for #Hurriquanami.

The quake did no damage to us, since the epicenter was far to the north. (No injuries or serious damage, just a lot of broken glass in Ojai.) The worst storm systems went around us on both sides of the Los Angeles basin, proving once again that geography has an impact on weather. We finally got some cooler winds and heavier rain by about 7 PM.

Our area got about 2.5″ of rain in exchange for a few tree limbs down and loss of power. I invited neighbors to come by and recharge at our house (thanks to our powerwall), but power was restored before anyone got that desperate.

Palm Springs and Coachella Valley were far less fortunate.

Several school districts canceled classes today.

Our school district, however, is still on summer break.

Dalton is rather bitter about this: “That was probably the best chance to have school canceled for weather!”

“Give it time, dude. Our climate is heading for extremes. You could still get a snow day.”

“That will NEVER happen in LA, Mom.”

“They said the same thing about hurricanes once, buddy.”

Election Night: Then and Now (#305)

Over 70 million Americans have spent the week holding their breath. We remember how confident we were four years ago. How we arrogantly assumed that the rest of the country saw Donald Trump for what he was: a hateful, racist, incompetent, misogynistic narcissist who would run the country into the ground.

I watched the numbers roll in on CNN and compared it with the New York Times website. And by 7 PM PST, it was clear that Clinton did not have the votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It was shocking, but true. Numbers don’t lie. The trend was obvious.

My Chinese-American mother-in-law was visiting. She didn’t understand why I was upset. “It will be fine,” she said.

“It will not be fine,” I told her. “With the Senate also Republican, there will be no checks on that man.” I fled to my bedroom. Continue reading Election Night: Then and Now (#305)

Salute to Stupidity (#256)

Growing up in Washington, D.C. means no other Independence Day celebration will live up to your childhood memories. For a relentlessly political, cynical city, they throw a heck of a party.

Photo by Ron Engle

First, there’s the National Independence Day Parade. This ain’t no small, hometown parade where the local horses and fire trucks are the stars of the show. This is A Historical Spectacle. There are hundreds of Uncle Sams (some  in balloon form or on stilts). Bewigged Founding Fathers abound, as do Paul Revere impersonators. Military bands–past and present–are pressed into service, sweating in wool uniforms and 100 degree heat. My sisters and I once counted seventy-five Betsy Rosses. (We would’ve liked some Deborah Sampsons better, but we cheered what female historical figures we could get.) Continue reading Salute to Stupidity (#256)

Still We Reap (#225)

In my AP history class in Northern Virginia, we held an annual debate about the Civil War.

I know, right? What’s there to argue about? Slavery bad. Confederacy wrong. I thought captaining the team for the North would be a slam dunk.

I forgot I was in Virginia, Confederate flag central. Continue reading Still We Reap (#225)