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California temperatures hottest, driest in 120 years

Don't need the headline to tell me that. This has been a miserable year. Today it has been a toasty 102. With a dry wind. Some plants that usually handle at least some high heat are looking crispy--Mermaid for one and Sydonie for another. St. Elisabeth of Hungary has dropped almost all her leaves (did so even before the worst of the heat arrived). I have some salvias that are supposed to like heat and drought, well not this one, they are wilting (S. iodantha, S. mexicana 'Limelight', S. melissodora). On the other hand S. namaensis and S. 'Celestial Blue' seem impervious to these conditions. Roses that are doing well include Felicite Parmentier, R. minutifolia, R. alabukensis, R. borissovae (this crazy thing is growing and *blooming* now eventhough it is supposed to be a once-bloomer), R. canina 'Laxa', Wild Edric, Omi Oswald, R. setigera, Rose de Resht, R. cantabrigiensis, Nevada, Rene d'Anjou, Mme Pierre Oger, Cerise Bouquet, Scarlet Moss, and York and Lancaster.

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: California temperatures hottest, driest in 120 years

Comments (38)

  • 9 years ago

    We've reached the point where even California native plants are in trouble. And Oak trees are beginning to die. That's scary stuff.

    The lawn is history. We're keeping roses going, as we can. Those on house-level are doing pretty well with warmup water and dishwater. I guess, if my step-Great-Grandmother could grow roses that way, I can do it too.

    I am prepared for things to be worse, and I can accept losses -- prepared, but not happy.

  • 9 years ago

    Jeri ...

    It's bad up here, too. I actually have green grass simply because I am watering the maple tree out in front of the house.

    I've put soaker hoses on the other two trees I am trying to save.

    I have never had to water my trees in the past.

    The soil is so dry deep down, it makes a difference in how the soil near the surface holds water.

    Then there are the water wars. Not good.

    Lyn

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  • 9 years ago

    Lyn -- my sister, inland from us in Fillmore, CA, says that they are very likely going to lose some of the old oak trees on their property. That's really scary.

    And we just walked out, and our neighbors across the Lane have water running down the Lane.

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    Jeri ...

    I know it's bad everywhere. Not only are the water tables lower, the dynamics of how a watershed works makes the impact of the drought even worse than anything I could have ever imagined.

    I simply had to water the three trees I am trying to save. One of them is a white fir up on the slope behind the house. If that tree fell, it would cut my house in half. That tree is the only green tree on this whole slope.

    We have people up here with their wells going dry. Creeks that have never gone dry in over 100 years are dry this year. Yet they are demanding that we send the same amount of water down south as is sent during normal years.

    I am glad I don't know your neighbor right now.

    Lyn

  • 9 years ago

    Yesterday, at an elevation and location which is USUALLY one of the cooler spots in this part of the city, it was 107 with 35% humidity. Today was SUPPOSED to be "cooler", but when it hit 109 (with ONLY 18% humidity) I relented and finally turned on the a/c for the first time this year. Fans simply were no longer cutting it. Foliage is FRIED and cane tips are burned back. Seedling tables which are 2' X 4' with 8"-10" deep moisture control potting soil, must be watered daily, sometimes twice daily. I missed one day and lost the tops of many which are almost nine months old. Weaker ones are toast. Canned plants are almost history. Fortunately, the trees on this portion of the hill are all volunteers. While they're not looking happy, none are actually dying yet, but I see brown spots all along the facing ridge where well established trees are now fire fodder. It is windy and hot, still, at 8:30 PM, 91 F. This has to end...SOON! Kim

  • 9 years ago

    Remember, Lyn, that not ALL of Southern California receives your water. Basically, I think it goes mostly to Los Angeles.

    And here, wells are "iffy," and groundwater is diminishing fast, as our aquifers are threatened.

    OH! And then, there's all the water being taken for FRACKING. GRRRRR . . . And, with all that, yes, there is still an awful lot of waste going on.

    At least we stopped a massive new development. Now, the committee that headed up that effort is working on a ballot initiative which, if passed, would put any zoning changes (as from agricultural to residential) in the hands of the voters.

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    We are normally not as hot as inland So Cal here (usual temps in the Summer 80s & 90s - if it gets to 100 it appears on the front page of the paper).

    I am happy to report that during the last week when I go outdoors at about 6AM, there has been a definite "Fall chill" in the air - very encouraging! Of course, the days are still getting up into the low 90s.

    A few days ago there was water rushing down the gutter at the street in front of our house. I walked up the street a block, and it was coming down another street. Walked up there another block, and it was pouring out of a water meter in front of an empty house which just changed hands, and is having work done prior to the new owners moving in. No sign of anyone. So, I went home and called the "emergency" number for our water dept. They came out within 15 minutes and turned it off - I was impressed. The new owners will get quite a water bill. Obviously, somehow the construction folks did something - how could they miss a flood going down the street?

    Anyway, I am so ready for winter, I will not complain if it rains for months and months.

    Jackie

  • 9 years ago

    Sure you'll complain about months of rain, Jackie. We ALL will! Kim

  • 9 years ago

    Jeri ...

    You are right about not all of our water going to all parts of Socal.

    The issue for me, living in a County of Origin, is that a significant amount of water is sent down south for farming and to supply development with no local source of water. When more water was needed to avoid a major fish kill off, instead of reducing the water to be sent out of the County, they just took more water for the fish kill problem. It didn't matter that the people up here don't have the water to send. It's just a grab.

    Many of my friends are having to have water trucked in to fill their holding tanks because their wells have gone dry. Most people who are on well water do have holding tanks on their properties just in case water is needed for fire protection. This year, they are having to use that water because their wells have failed.

    That ballot initiative, if read carefully, may solve problems down south, but the powers that be would not even allow participation of representatives in the Counties of Origin to sit at the table when the ballot was written. The fact that it would severely impact our water situation has been totally ignored. Not good.

    I am so very glad you were able to stop that big development that would make your water problems worse. We don't have enough votes to stop the grab.

    This thread is about the drought, not about the water wars. I was just posting about the fact that the drought is really having a huge impact on the environment in an area of the State that traditionally does not have the same kinds of water issues in other parts of the State.

    Other gardening friends are going through their gardens and deciding which plants they are going to allow to die so that they can have water for other plants. Ranchers are selling off stock because they cannot provide enough water for their herds. Farmers' crops are failing. The grape harvest is going to be almost non-existent.

    Yes, I know that's true down south, too.

    I have never had to water my trees even during the years that we consider to be "dry" years. If I hadn't watered them this year, I am certain I would have lost them.

    This is truly an ugly drought for the whole State.

    Lyn

  • 9 years ago

    Well, no one's ever had to water oak trees, either. And I've read that even some of the CA native plants at the Theodore Payne Foundation garden in Sun Valley are under real stress, and they may start losing things.

    See: http://theodorepayne.org/

    As to practicing gardening triage -- we're doing the same thing. Some roses have been removed. Others WILL be removed. We will keep pretty much only things that aren't commonplace, so that we can share them. The empty places will be partially filled with salvias and lavenders and the like. The things I value most are right outside the door, so I can give them rinse water and dishwater and the like.

    And water is running down the street, from our neighbor's over-watered lawn.

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    Even rosemary, probably our toughest plant, is turning yellow and beginning to die off. Even sadder, eagles, hawks and owls are dying in record numbers since there are no mice and rats to eat.

    I read that California is still the fastest-growing state in the U.S. That is absolute insanity! Not a single new development should be allowed in this state. Fracking should be a crime. Bottled water companies are draining aquifers everywhere in the state since there is no law stopping them. Over the long run, drought will be a way of life here, although I understand they still expect some El Nino winters here and there. The heat on our land is stifling and has been for days. It didn't get below 90 until long after dark.

    So much could be done on a local, state and federal level that isn't being done. Education of the public should be a primary consideration. I don't even hear people discussing this problem among themselves, and wonder how many, like the idiot with water running down into the street, haven't bothered to inform themselves or are in total denial.

    We were supposed to get rain from the latest hurricane but guess where it's going instead? To Arizona, where they've already had flooding from the last one. I think nature is really angry with us.......

    Ingrid

  • 9 years ago

    We took a couple of vacation days and enjoyed the Monterey area. It was nice up there a perfect temp. Because it was cooking inland, we took the coast route both ways.

    What a treat. The whales were feasting just off shore, well over a dozen, they hwy looked like a parking lot with all of the people watching. I still have to look closer at the photos, BT the docents at pt lobos said they were blue whales. The water temps have shifted and the sardines are back in great numbers.

    Never seen by me on hwy 1 was a herd of elk. Probably due to the dry hills, they were down in a field by the hwy past Hearst Castle

    Some interesting changes for this year

  • 9 years ago

    We got our first of the season light rain here (No Cal) last night and this morning. Perfect type of rain - very light but steady - I'll bet it totals at least 1/2 inch here. Just enough to open up the hard dry soil and prevent run off.

    Kim, I promised myself that I would NOT complain about too much rain this winter, no matter how much it rains. (Only if it does not rain enough). THAT is a problem I am looking forward to!

    Jackie

  • 9 years ago

    To me, California is the epitome of the irresponsible Progress of the anthropocentric illusion and the almighty dollar. It is all about what human beings want--and want now--with no regard to other living creatures or even their own future. It is over-populated and over-pavemented. Unlike other places, where weather imposes some restraint of one kind or another, CA's perfect climate has allowed it to be completely abused by developers, industry, and the average joe. Instead of taking the time to plan, everything from highways and suburbs to water and energy use grows out of control like cancers. Some of the best agricultural land in the world is now under concrete and asphalt. The ecosystem is so imbalanced not even a mouse could find a niche. When I went visit my parents I found it hysterically funny that you couldn't smoke on the streets of Palo Alto but the gluttony of its consumerism and environmental destruction continue to skyrocket. Every house on my parents' little street has been replaced with a mac-mansion.

    They say that as CA goes, so goes the nation. That's scary, but it's probably true...Nature bats last.

    I have a house for sale in SC on 1.5 acres, flat, good rose soil, if anyone wants to get out of CA while the getting is still good.

  • 9 years ago

    California should be more loved by us than it is. It has so many beautiful places and I wish more could be preserved. It's hard to see where we will get more resources to support the new housing going in. I wish the corporate buildings would volunteer to replace the grass along the freeway side that no one uses with synthetic grass if they must have grass instead of other plantings. That would save on pollution too when they don't need to run the mowers. I have been diverting my washing machine rinse water into a bucket for my plants and so far it has not harmed the roses. Sometimes, I just rinse the clothes in a bucket outside so I don't have to carry it very far. In the high heat last week, everything dried right away out in the shade.

  • 9 years ago

    "To me, California is the epitome of the irresponsible Progress of the anthropocentric illusion and the almighty dollar. It is all about what human beings want--and want now--with no regard to other living creatures or even their own future. It is over-populated and over-pavemented."

    *** But then, if you can say that, you have probably only experienced PARTS of California. There is a great deal of our state that is open and beautiful. And it should remember that "we" grow 80% of the nation's fruits and vegetables.

    The trend for several decades has been population movement to the coastlines. East, West, South, and even North, along the Great Lakes. There are whole towns in the "nation's midsection" that are almost wholly deserted -- with wide, gracious streets, upon which no one now travels.

    Our state is in drought, not because people moved here, but because the overall climate is changing.

    And, in MY little town, the citizens just rose up and made enough noise that a huge housing/business development has been cancelled. We've done that twice now. People do still care -- and they are willing to get out and say so.

    It doesn't take much work for me to pour a quart or so of water on chosen roses 2-3 times a day, just from rinsing off dishes and glassware. And it seems to make the roses very happy. It's easy to do, and it works.

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    Throughout history, people have always moved to the coasts--nothing new in that. I was born and grew up in CA and most of my family still lives there. I remember when Cupertino was orchards and a thousand other 'I remembers' from all over the state. It is not nearly as open as it used to be. When I was a kid, there was nothing between Sausalito and Santa Rosa, nothing south of San Jose or east of Oakland. Now its all paved. We keep using up the land; then when we see 500 open acres we tell ourselves there's still open land. My parents home was 2400 sq ft, large for those days. After they died, the new owners tore it down and built a 4000sq ft house. I said CA is the epitome of the problem.

    Climate change is because of the demands we have put on the environment--every car, every piece of plastic, every air conditioner, brick, nail, every piece of metal, every fertilizer and pesticide, every piece of clothing....it all adds up. In the old days, houses were not built with closets because people had only a few sets of clothes; most didn't have enough to fill a wardrobe. My 22-year old niece--who lives near Santa Rosa--has over 75 shirts. There are five people in her family and every one has a car. It takes an unbelievable amount of land and water to maintain that lifestyle. The reservoirs are down not only because it hasn't rained, but because there are more people using them than can be sustained in tough times. 37,000,000 people showering every day is a lot of water.

    I'm glad your town put its foot down about new development, Jeri. I'm glad some people are trying to care. We have to figure out how much in costs in resources to maintain levels of lifestyle--and then somebody has to have courage to stand up to "I want" and say no.

  • 9 years ago

    "I'm glad your town put its foot down about new development, Jeri. I'm glad some people are trying to care."

    *** It's not easy, and of course, there is more $$$ behind "more development -- we need more housing" than there is behind "STOP DOING THIS!"

    The thing that's opening eyes, now, is the stark fact that we do not have enough water for all this. And it is sad to acknowledge that many, many people either refuse to see that, OR are selfish enough to say that others can conserve in order that they may splurge.

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    One of the issues is the reality that rather than spread wide we need some areas to develop up. But it is more expensive to build up with earthquake requirements and while it makes more sense to go up near jobs to reduce driving, often those are the older areas, which means buying buildings not farm land and not as nice.

  • 9 years ago

    It is more expensive, but it's the only sensible thing to do -- IF we really need more housing, that is.

    But look -- they also, here, wanted to build more "business park" development. We drove through our biggest existing "business park" Wednesday evening. Every other building has space available for lease, and many are totally empty. (I keep wondering who pays to water the acres of lawn in that area. Clearly, it's all well-watered and fertilized.)

    I can't think, with as much square footage as is presently vacant, anyone would even consider permitting the construction of MORE of it.

  • 9 years ago

    You could Round-up "Don't Waste Water" into the lawns. People have to demand responsible long-term city planning and not just 'my job, my house.' Since money talks, maybe everyone should form a coalition and refuse to pay taxes until a long-term, citizen-approved plan is in place. Sadly, everyone is always "too busy" to organize such protests and no one wants to take a risk. Apathy is the fastest road to tyranny--in this case, the tyranny of money.

  • 9 years ago

    Consumerism and the almighty dollar rule. And greed. Not everyone is that way, of course, but those are the values of the dominant culture.

    I could go on and on about the awful things about our culture (media, tv programs, endless developments, etc), but others have said it better. It just breaks my heart to see the damage humans have done to the environment, and to ourselves.

    Sometimes I think that's why I love roses so much; they give me a bit of solace and comfort...

  • 9 years ago

    Some one did that the next main street over from moms. They spell Drought wrong though.........

    I think I have a bigger issue with the empty retail properties sitting with soaking green lawns than the few I see in neighborhoods.

    I watched a guy at the local zoo watering the drought tolerant plants with a hose that looked thicker than 1" blasting them for extended times. I realize it is a public place and there are other reasons to use that much water than the plants, but it is growing moss so this is a norm for those planters. I am sure his excuse is it is reclaimed water, but since our plant has been off line for a long time I am sick of hearing that excuse. Seems saving water is for the citizens, not the government unless they can directly hurt the citizens. Like having porta potties and shutting off the restrooms.

  • 9 years ago

    What has shocked me the most is how fragile and easily broken the web of life is here. Until this year our property was teeming with wildlife. This year there is desolation. Completely gone are mice, rats, hawks, falcons and owls. The lizard, frog, snake and snail population is hanging by a thread. For years we watched the ravens fly overhead in the evening to their nightly roosts. Since last week they are gone. I could go on with other examples if I had the heart. It's a huge shock to me. I thought the animals would be better-adapted to drought. However, if there is nothing for mice to eat the whole pyramid above them topples.

    Ingrid

  • 9 years ago

    Talk about the drought impacting the environment ...

    The glaciers melting on Mt. Shasta are believed to be the cause of mudslides.

    A direct quote from the article linked below:

    "As debris continues to flow, impacts will also be seen in the lower McCloud River. Sediments from Mud Creek will likely impact water quality and fishing by creating turbidity issues in the river below Lake McCloud, "

    Here is a link that might be useful: California drought

  • 9 years ago

    Ingrid -- That is such a perceptive way to describe what's happening.

    Lyn -- I thought about you, when I heard about that mudslide. Are you anywhere near that highway?

  • 9 years ago

    Hi Jeri ...

    No Mt. Shasta is on the other side of the valley in the Sierras. I live in Trinity County in the Klamath Mountains which is the southerly part of the Cascade mountain range. We do have some glaciers further up in the Trinity Alps, but they are very much in the back country, so if there are mudslides, I don't think they will be in populated areas.

    If we have mudslides, its going to be along the highway down the mountain where they have been redesigning the highway. They have taken out a lot of trees for the project and made deep cuts into the mountains. That land is not stable. Its much, much dryer deep down than when they did their studies for engineering the road improvement. That truly frightens me.

    Usually, I can see snow at the higher elevations of the Alps, but I haven't seen any snow up there since last spring.

    Everything is so very dry. I didn't realize how dry things would feel when the soil moisture deep down decreased.

    Ingrid, you are so right about how the drought is affecting wildlife. The deer I chase off are starving. You can see their ribs. There are fewer hawks hunting over the meadow across the road. I still have lots of lizards. The gophers have moved into town. I've never had gophers in my garden in the past, but when I went hiking, I could see their mounds everywhere. I am not seeing near as much gopher activity this year, but lots in my own garden. They are following the water.

    I have had as many as five species of birds waiting their turn to drink from the bird baths. They are not as territorial as usual. I even found a rattlesnake skin down in the carport where I store my wood. I've never had rattlesnakes on my property.

    Friends have had more bear, cougar and fox problems this year as compared to prior years. The wildlife is coming to town.

    The only good news, from my point of view, is that they have stopped issuing well permits and have increase the cost to tie into the small water system that serves each town to the point that it is not economically wise to even think of building right now.

    My biggest fear is fire. They've drawn off so much water to go outside of the County, a fire would be simply horrid.

    Lyn

  • 9 years ago

    " . . . Friends have had more bear, cougar and fox problems this year as compared to prior years. The wildlife is coming to town."

    *** Yup. We're seeing that, too. More and more. No one wants a bear in their backyard -- but I feel terribly sorry for all of the wild critters.

    (Except gophers. I have no sympathy for gophers.)

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    Jeri ...

    I share your hatred of gophers. That's what I get for improving my soil. My garden has now been invaded.

    Lyn

  • 9 years ago

    I had such a nice visit to a local nursery on Saturday. The tables of lantana were filled with butterflies, hummingbirds where zipping everywhere and a small bunny was sneaking snacks on the 1g pots. I was still enjoying the thoughts of the nursery as I visited a neighbor on Sunday. Her milk weed plants are big because the monarchs did not return. But the hummers and birds were still happy to enjoy the yard. Later the crows where upset as the local hawks where busy, guessing nothing to raid in the crow nest, checking out the crows favorite tree.

    I think it is important to remember to keep some plants and water available for them. I know the dead stalks of the sunflowers and a few of the flowers are not so pretty, but they are teaming with birds picking away.

  • 9 years ago

    I went to a sewing group in Lakeside near San Diego this weekend. She had a misting system set up for her dogs. I was wondering if something like that uses much water. It might help the plants during the heatwaves. Everything looked so dry. The military base near the reactors on the 5 was completely brown. The ocean was still beautiful though and it's been a while since I drove that way and saw it.

    Even if we don't get a strong El Nino this winter, the weatherman said that weak El Nino years have sometimes had heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada. I don't want any more fires and I heard that CA has almost used up the emergency fire money for the year.

  • 9 years ago

    KM....

    The State of California imposed a fee for those of us that live in wildfire areas. (Of course, a lot of the money was spent suppressing fires in areas where they did not collect the fee.) Hey, we got a $15.00 break because we also have to support our local fire district, too along with community members making up the volunteer fire department.

    Please forgive the sarcastic tone. There would be more money to suppress fires, if everyone had to pay the fee.

    I am so very grateful that people from other fire districts around the country are willing to come and work in horrible conditions and fight these fires.

    I wonder if all of that money has been spent, too.

    Lyn

  • 9 years ago

    Yes Lyn, we've had to pay that fine too now for several years, as has a friend of mine, whose neighbors across the street don't, which frustrates her no end. Even if the funds are available, one wonders whether the water will be when a number of fires have to be fought simultaneously, as has often been the case here. The casinos in this region are guzzling water at an alarming rate, while people's wells around them are being drained dry. The Chinese curse of "May you live in interesting times" is alive and well just about everywhere now.

    Ingrid

  • 9 years ago

    If it wasn't the casinos, it would be Nestle's "privatizing" the water, which their CEO has publicly stated is NOT a "human right". Has anyone heard whether Congress passed emergency funding for fighting the western wild fires before they took the rest of the season off? They hadn't before they left on their FIVE WEEK vacation. Kim

  • 9 years ago

    Earlier, some of you were discussing the beautiful small towns that have been abandoned...and that's true in our area, too. Maybe not as much as the Mid-west, but the mountain areas (eastern Washington state) also has large farming areas, with many abandoned small towns.

    I know many people move to the 'coast' because that's where many of the businesses (and jobs) seem to be. But, in the age of computers...why aren't more people moving to inexpensive, lovely and green towns...and faxing in the work? Just an observation.

    As for the drought, I am so sorry that your water is being shipped off to parts unknown. We pay higher electricity rates, because much of our power is shipped to California, so I know a little of that frustration...especially with our winter heat bills skyrocketing. When you have snow and below zero temperatures (and too many cloudy days for effective solar) you have to pay the electric bill!

  • 9 years ago

    " the age of computers...why aren't more people moving to inexpensive, lovely and green towns...and faxing in the work? "

    *** I wondered the same thing -- but part of the reason may be that Internet access is still "iffy" in many rural areas.

    Being in the computer age isn't a help to you, if you can only access the internet via pricey satellite connections.

    Jeri

  • 9 years ago

    I read that California is still the fastest-growing state in the U.S.

    Actually, no. California is 18th. (see link)

    But look -- they also, here, wanted to build more "business park" development. We drove through our biggest existing "business park" Wednesday evening. Every other building has space available for lease, and many are totally empty.

    The whole business park thing is ridiculous here also. With everything getting outsourced to China, there's no reason to have a lot of office buildings--they sit empty. The company my DH works for, when they renewed their lease, they got their space for practically free because the 20 story building they are in is almost empty.

    Here is a link that might be useful: list of states by pop growth

  • 9 years ago

    You'd be surprised how many companies don't want you faxing it in. They want you physically there, under constant scrutiny so they're sure they 'get their money's worth' out of you. If you're fortunate to be in an IT type situation, yes, it's possible, but many aren't. I have a client who is an IT person for Cisco and works from home. She spends VERY long days in the "office" and frequently gets called in on her weekends, spending six and eight hours on "days off", which are not reimbursed. "That's why you make the big bucks". Kim

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Planning Your Outdoor Space in Loundon County?