Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter in So-Cal (January Bloomday)

While so many are under ice and snow, Southern California basks in the relative warmth of a Mediterranean climate.  Many transplants from the northeast often complain about the lack of seasonality in our weather, but as a native, I know better.  Our winter is very different from the traditional American ideal; it takes more observation to see the subtlety.

Our winters vacillate between being cool and dry or cool and wet, depending on the development of La Nina or El Nino.  La Nina makes the ocean waters off the coast colder and causes Southern Cali to have a dry winter. El Nino is the opposite, causing warmer coastal waters and giving us ample to a deluge of rain. This year has been unique, despite La Nina conditions, we are over the average amount of rainfall for this time of the season thanks to the pulse of arctic storms blasting their way south.  Average rainfall is also a misnomer; for most times we either surpass or have very little rainfall. The “average” is merely the adding the sum of the extremes and dividing by a given number, practically signifying nothing.  For instance, I belong to the generation of California kids who grew up during a seven year drought. When it finally began raining again in earnest, we looked up in to the sky and asked, “What the hell is this?”

With rain, comes greenery, and winter is our green time of year. Our normally dust-colored valleys and hillsides grow lush and the native wildflowers receive the water they need to for their spring rebirth. Rain also provides for opportunists, the weeds. I finally have the upper hand in this battle, using both the spray and pull methods. Here's hoping I can keep them under control.

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