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January 10, 2005

The Fountains of the Deep Are Opened...

170% of normal season rainfall so far... 16.25 inches... and that's not counting tonight's storm. We lost our biggest oak tree: 40 feet tall, 60 foot canopy, but its root system had been undermined by the creek for decades. Now blocking the entire driveway so that the only access to the house is by parking on the road and rappelling down a 45-degree slope of mud... It took down a 60 foot redwood when it went as well...

I didn't think it was supposed to be an El Nino year...

Posted by DeLong at January 10, 2005 07:31 PM

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Sorry about your trees. Damn shame.

Posted by: tedb at January 10, 2005 07:52 PM

The last El Nino year was 1997-98, right? And it occurs every seven years?

Posted by: niq at January 10, 2005 08:39 PM

It's not an El Niño year, so the NOAA folks say: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ El Niños cause wet California winters, but so do other patterns.

Posted by: PK at January 10, 2005 08:42 PM

And yet I would be deriving a certain blow-winds-and-crack-your-cheeks pleasure from this weather, if my goddamn roof weren't leaking, that is.

Come back, Sun God.

Posted by: Delicious Pundit at January 10, 2005 08:48 PM

I am also sorry about your loss of a large oak tree. So, assuming all the other damage can be reapired, what will happen to you and your property values now?

Posted by: Jess Olson at January 10, 2005 08:55 PM

Hey, send that precipitation back up here where it belongs before you break something else with it! It's way too dry up here in Portland. If we don't get more snow in the Cascades all we'll have to drink and wash our cars with this summer is tonic water.

Posted by: spiritrover at January 10, 2005 09:09 PM

As I understand it, the jet stream has dipped further south than usual, and these cold fronts keep getting pushed down the coast rather than travelling eastward as they normally do.

Not that that makes the loss of a beautiful oak or redwood any more palatable.

Posted by: Linkmeister at January 10, 2005 09:46 PM

We used to say it was an Act of God, but there is no God. I just heard Sean Hannity use the phrase "journalistic ethics" and there was no bolt of lightning, nothing. Disappointing really.

Posted by: Steve at January 10, 2005 11:09 PM

Wow, sorry to hear of your loss. A new redwood should grow pretty fast (a friend who lives in Walnut Creek planted one two years ago and he says it grows very quickly). I know nothing about oaks. I'm down in Los Angeles. The basement flooded, the sump pump burned out and we had to replace it. The sump pump hasn't stopped for three days. If I step out back my foot sinks ankle high in water.

[Redwoods grow quickly; oaks grow slowly]

Posted by: cal at January 11, 2005 01:23 AM

I well remember the torrential rains we had in the Bay Area in the early 1980s. A lot of houses constructed during the drought years in the late 1970s didn’t do too well. Even my old neighborhood with its old real estate (Rockridge) had problems with whole houses sliding down hillsides. You can identify potential problems by carefully evaluating the property before you buy. My current house has a giant Eucalyptus tree next to it. It made me very nervous when I was evaluating the property before I bought in 1998. Eucalyptus trees have shallow roots and are prone to blowing down in storms. So I hired an arborist to check it out. It costs me about $600 every 18 months to hire a tree surgeon to trim the thing and reduce wind resistance.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at January 11, 2005 02:15 AM

Oaks are slo-ow to regrow, if memory serves. On the plus side, there ought to be some good lumber on a 40' oak.

Posted by: Andrew Gray at January 11, 2005 06:26 AM

Please be VERY careful about that mud field. It is quite easy to get buried and, well, suffocate to death.


Posted by: Cranky Observer at January 11, 2005 07:25 AM

Sorry about your trees Brad. Being a tree guy, I feel your pain, and then some.

1. Redwoods also do best in supplemental water where Brad lives - the ecosystem there being much hotter now that houses are there - they reach a certain age/height and stop doing well without additional water (although if the creek flows 8-9 months of the year he may be OK to replant)...

2. El Nino may no longer have a 7-year return period, as anthropogenic climate change may be altering that cycle.

Best and good luck, sir,


Posted by: Dano at January 11, 2005 08:22 AM

Really too bad about the trees.

Back in September, NOAA was predicting a weak El Niño, and that seems to be what we have according to their current info (see http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/fxus05.html).

Posted by: Tom Hilton at January 11, 2005 09:42 AM

Its sunny in Los Angeles! (finally)

This is actually a common enough occurance that the LA weathercasters have a name for it. They call it the "Pineapple Express." With the jet stream this far south, you get a stream a wet moist air coming up from the area of Hawaii and when runs into the cold air from Alaska the result is lots and lots of rain.

Posted by: section321 at January 11, 2005 09:49 AM

Ah, the trees.
Sorry, Brad.

Posted by: anne at January 11, 2005 11:50 AM

"too bad about the trees"

Up here when they fall we take a different view - "thank God it missed the house"

Posted by: Anna at January 11, 2005 12:59 PM

The Madden Julian Oscillation: Its potential for week two flood outlooks and reservoir management decisions in California.


This is what drives "kooky" California weather during "La Nada" years (neither El Nino or La Nina).

I feel for you Brad -- I lost 9 trees during Isabelle in 2003 -- fortunately they fell parallel to the house and before I closed on the house, so the tree work was on the seller's dime.

At least the weather is going to shift again. They are forecasting a coastal storm next week here in Washington, DC. Perhaps Mother Nature is expressing her displeasure at the event occuring on January 20th?

Posted by: Annie at January 11, 2005 01:21 PM

Brad, if you feel you should replace the oak (who wouldn't?) red oaks will grow noticeably faster than white oaks and will show more color during the fall foliage season, particularly if they are healthy.

[But we don't *have* a fall foliage season]

Posted by: Dubblblind at January 11, 2005 05:04 PM

Sorry about your trees.

I really hope it isn't el Nino. Down here in SE Australia, the little b* is associated with severe and multi-year droughts (we're still recovering from the last one).

Posted by: derrida derider at January 11, 2005 06:20 PM


Posted by: JD at January 11, 2005 06:58 PM

WE have no snow in Anchorage and the entire village of Kaktovik is hiding in shelters because of a huge blizzard, and they are worried that people will freeze to death in the dark or get lost trying to seek shelter with working power and heat. It is 15 below in the big city tonight and that's cold enough.

Posted by: bigfoot at January 11, 2005 09:21 PM

Here in England, we've been hit by storm after storm. People here are already talking permanent climate change. Global warming, anybody?

Posted by: weco at January 12, 2005 04:00 AM

The oak you can split for firewood, and the redwood you can use for woodworking projects.

There are probably some more baby trees that will grow faster, now that you are getting more rain.

Have been rapelling mud from the big deep.

[The problem with the baby trees is the local deer...]

Posted by: nancykirsch at January 12, 2005 05:47 PM

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