October 18, 2009

Typhoon Goes To The Runner

Good morning and greetings, heavy rainfall fans. The biggest October storm to hit the central coast since 1962 blew into town last Tuesday and pounded Santa Cruz with torrential rains, howling winds and enormous waves. The storm also brought flooding, downed trees, mudslides and umbrella salesmen, along with closed roads, minds and beaches.

The storm came to us courtesy of Typhoon Melor, which orginated in the north Pacific and then slammed into Japan and parts of northern New Jersey. Which brings to mind the Woody Allen line from “Take The Money and Run,” when his wife, played by the lovely Janet Margolin says, “For Christmas, I’m giving you a baby.” Replied Woody, “All I wanted was a tie.”

Along with the remnants of the typhoon came furious rain. According to the National Weather Service, who provides up to the minute forecasts along with helpful baking tips, we had record rainfall as Santa Cruz received 3.16 inches, breaking the record for the day set back in 1899. Parts of the Santa Cruz mountains were deluged with over 10 inches of rain. Considering the average rainfall for Santa Cruz for the month of October is 1.4 inches, this storm was a doozy. I hadn’t felt that kind of moisture since I sweated out my draft lottery number back in the early 70′s.

So being that I like to bring to the table the best of what I see during the week, I knew what my mission was. I also knew I had to photograph this storm. So I put on my Al Roker raincoat, grabbed my camera, choked down the last few bites of a vegan meatball sandwich and headed for the coast.

Now I must apologize for the lack of clarity and some haziness in these photos. When I took these shots the rain was coming down harder than the Republicans on President Obama’s health care package. Before you could say, “Annie Liebowitz,” my lense was covered with moisture. And as all you Ansel Adams fans know, water is really good for a camera, in the same way the disgruntled Stephen Jackson will be a positive influence on the Warriors this season.

The first image is from the cliffs above Natural Bridges State Beach. As you can see from the foam, white water and hot cocoa, the ocean was pumping full throttle and generating tremendous energy that ended up flooding the beach. The next day, where there had once been dry sand, the beach was now a watery playground for seagulls, kelp sculptures and an abandoned Russian submarine.

We then move south along West Cliff Drive to view more of the slamming of the coastline. This is one of my favorite spots to shoot during a storm because of the constant fury of white water being sprayed up onto the sidewalks of West Cliff. To once again quote Woody Allen, this time from “Play It Again, Sam,” “I love the rain. It washes the memories off the sidewalk of life.”

The next two shots are from Bird Rock and Lighthouse Point. The coastline was being battered all day much like Joe Frazier was in the “Thrilla from Manila.” Or in the words of Muhammad Ali, who did the damage to Smokin’ Joe that day, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” And speaking of butterflies, this storm was tougher on the monarchs nesting at Natural Bridges then the English section was on my son on Saturday’s PSAT exam.

I always look forward to buffets and the day after a storm. Leaves, tree branches and insurance salesmen were scattered everywhere as I headed over to Natural Bridges to take a postgame look. I spotted these cormorants on the rock, huddled closer together than the Olsen twins on “Family Feud.”. And as you can see in the background on this shot, the waves were still pumping to the tune of a lovely shade of brown rust. And as Neil Young has told us, “Rust never sleeps.”

All in all, it was an interesting week, as on Thursday I shot my first sunrise of the season. Then on Saturday night, a gorgeous sunset filled the western sky. Unfortunately, due to my devotion to New York Yankee baseball, I wasn’t aware of what was happening in the sky until it was too late, so I can only blame myself, Yankee starter AJ Burnett and the entire cast of the “Today” show for not capturing this Saturday night special. Rest assured, sports fans, I’m still kicking myself for missing out on this amazingly colorful Kodak moment that would have appeared on these blog pages next week.

Anyway, on to the late night news of the day. “In a surprise decision, President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Friday. In other premature awards this week: high school football player Billy Reynolds has been named this year’s Heisman Trophy winner; fifth grader Amber Collins has been named Miss America; and nine-year-old Dylan Holt has been named People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’” –Seth Meyers “The Nobel Prize for lack of chemistry went to John McCain and Sarah Palin.”–David Letterman “Hey, did you see what happened today? President Obama won another Nobel prize today, this time in medicine, for pretending to give up smoking.” –Jay Leno “Last night, the White House hosted a tribute to Latin music. President Obama wiggled his hips a little on the dance floor at which point a committee in Sweden immediately awarded him a Latin Grammy.” –Conan O’Brien

“This weekend, President Obama plans to appoint his Administration’s first openly gay ambassador, David Huebner. Huebner will serve as the U.S. ambassador to Barbra Streisand.” –Conan O’Brien “Yesterday morning, Pope Benedict named five new saints to the Catholic Church, though some are questioning whether Obama really deserved it.” –Jimmy Fallon “And tonight, Obama hosted a basketball game at the White House for several members of Congress. He didn’t even want to play, he just wanted to see Congress pass something.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Colorado will become the first state ever to lower its minimum wage by 3 cents an hour, from $7.28 to $7.25. As a compromise, Colorado workers will be allowed to leave work 9 seconds earlier.” –Jimmy Fallon “Scientists are very excited about the possibility of ice on the moon. Not as excited as personal injury attorneys, but almost as excited.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin’s memoir will be out next month. Revelations in the memoir. “They say that during her debate with Joe Biden — the vice presidential debate — she got confused and at one point actually said, ‘I’m ready to solve the puzzle, Pat.’” –David Letterman

So that’s it for another week from the western front. Glad to have you new readers along for the ride. Enjoy the fall days as the clouds have returned to the Monterey Bay skies which can only means the NBA regular season is rapidly approaching. We’ll catch you in dead center field. Aloha, mahalo and later, Alex Rodriquez fans.


  1. Was that sidewalk at 1612 or 1061?

    Comment by NBA — October 19, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  2. I really do love those vegan meatball sandwiches….along with the vegetarian eggplant Parmesan.

    Comment by aimee — October 19, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

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