July 17, 2011

Nobody Knows How Dry We Are

Good morning and greetings, summer breeze fans. Santa Cruz is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, which consists of warm
to dry summers and mild to cool, moist winters. This climate is found in
only a few areas of the world, which includes southwestern Australia,
central Chile, the western cape of South Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, coastal California and a strip mall in Hoboken, New Jersey.

So we’re talking no freezing temps in the winter and little
rain in the summer. Although we don’t see much precipitation at this time of year, Santa Cruz seems like a pretty moist place, from the fog that hugs the coast to the Pacific Ocean that looms as an ever-present force of moving moisture. After the rainy winter and spring, we are in no danger of any drought action, but unfortunately, a good part of our nation cannot say the same. You’ve heard of dry counties, we’re talking dry country.

What they’re calling the Great Drought of 2011 has spread across 14 states, from Florida to Arizona. 14% of the country has suffered through the driest six months since 1895. Hardest hit is Texas, where no part of the state has been left untouched by the virtual lack of rain. Taking the biggest shot is cotton, which accounts for half the U.S. crop, as the plants are too weak to break through the soil that is drier than my sense of humor.

Life has been miserable for Texans due to excessively high heat, scorching dry winds and the retirement of Yao Ming. More than 30% of the state’s wheat crop may be lost. It’s law of the jungle, the wheat shall perish.

Back in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 213 counties in Texas and the Oakland A’s batting order as natural disaster areas. Even if the weather changes, the rains come and the A’s start hitting, agricultural losses in the state will surge beyond $3 billion due to the blistering heat and lack of precipitation.

Oklahoma has only had 28% of it’s normal summer rainfall. It has been
triple-digit scorching hot for days on end and last week Governor Mary Fallin asked Oklahomans to pray for rain and Russell Westbrook to
pass more. And this comes after Texas Governor Rick Perry earlier in the year asked Texans to pray for rain and to try and forget his serious social networking faux pas when he singled out members of the media and blocked them from following his Twitter account.

So after a spring that was dominated by floods, tornadoes and the Dallas Mavericks, why is the earth being scorched like this? Four out of five meteorologists who recommend sugarless gum blame the high-pressure system that won’t leave the country’s midsection, making it impossible for cooler air from the north to break through. Many in the parched regions are now hoping for heavy tropical storms, drenching monsoons and the end of the NFL and NBA lockouts for relief.

The outlook through late September shows some possible improvement, but the chances of this natural disaster continuing are stronger than my weakside help defense. Further blame goes to La Niña, which is cooling our Pacific Ocean but bringing less moisture to the atmosphere, which prevents the storm systems from getting anywhere near these parched regions. We’re talking dead landscape, which much like the recent actions of the Republican Party, will take years to recover from. At this point, hope is flying solo.

And as an added bonus, a massive heat wave hit the upper midwest states and east coast last Friday, which topped off a week of record-breaking temperatures from Minneapolis to JFK airport In New York. Which brings us to the words of George Carlin as hippy dippy weatherman Al Sleet, “Temperature at the airport is 88 degrees, which is stupid because I don’t know anyone who lives at the airport.”

As of late last week, 900 high temperature records in the United
States had been tied or broken. And the bad news is, for July heat and humidity fans, as Karen Carpenter once whispered in my ear, “We’ve only just begun.”

Speaking of airports, last Wednesday night, 40 planes at Denver International Airport were damaged as hail stones larger than Carmelo Anthony’s ego fell for 15 minutes during a severe thunderstorm. Winds reached 70 MPH as a new single day record for rainfall was set. And
remember, Colorado borders Oklahoma and is a stone’s
throw from Texas, where the rain gauges have been emptier than my invoices paid box.

Moving onto today’s photo lunch special, we’re are going totally lunar. Last Thursday, as I was returning from my son’s summer league basketball game and on the way to my daughter’s softball game, I noticed the full moon rising as I cruised by COSTCO. I really would have preferred to see my favorite natural satellite rising up over Monterey Bay, but my timing and jump shot just aren’t what they used to be.

So instead, let’s head back to January of 2009 and take a look at the
biggest and brightest full moon of that year. I took in this lunar experience from West Cliff Drive on the cliffs above Cowell’s Beach. As you can see, this night was spectacular, and with the stars up above in my eyes, this evening goes down as my favorite among lunar loveliness. Or as my friend Van Morrison commented later, “What a marvelous night for a moon dance. And a fantabulous night for your blog.”

On to the late night. “A report says that a growing number of Americans are worth $1 million. The bad news: last year they were worth $5 million. Hitler’s birthplace in Austria has revoked his honorary citizenship. Talk about a rush to judgment. Michele Bachmann and her husband run this institution where they try to ‘pray away the gay.’ They want gay guys to think outside the bun.” –Jay Leno

“In Arizona they had a dust storm that was two miles high and 15 miles wide. It looked like something out of a movie. Visibility in Arizona they said was so bad that police were hassling white people.” –Bill Maher “A lawmaker in California is pushing for 13 counties to break away and form a new state called South California. Meanwhile, residents are pushing for a more fitting name: ‘North Mexico.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today he’s going back to the thing he does best. No, not that thing; the other thing. He’s going to star in a new Western. I think it’s called ‘Butch Cassiday and the Illegitimate Kid.’” –Craig Ferguson

David Letterman’s “Top Six Signs the United States Is Running Out of Money” 10. For $10,000, you get your face on the dollar
9. The White House now has a two-drink minimum 8. There’s a listing on eBay for North Dakota 6. Americans now attempting to sneak into Mexico 4. Costs $25 for each bag the president wants to check on Air Force One 1. Applied for a $40 billion loan from Oprah

So despite a tough finish, congratulations go out Abby Wambach and the U.S. Women’s soccer team for their inspiring play during World Cup action. And the same goes for the writers, actors and
crew from the epic series “Friday Night Lights,” which just
finished an wonderful five-year run on NBC. No program, with the possible exception of “Sons of Anarchy,” has ever moved me emotionally like this show did about families and high school football. The series finale was exceptional. As they say, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Texas forever.” We’ll catch you down the right field line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Riggins fans.

4 Comments »

  1. Here in Colorado we used to say “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute”. Now we say, “just be thankful we’re not living in Texas” (actually we used to say that all the time – now it’s just even more true).

    Comment by Curtis Granderson — July 18, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  2. The ocean temperatures are rising too… Leading to storm to hurricane fuel. I saw a Fort Meyers, Florida report of 89 degrees for that area of the Gulf of Mexico. Is this a el Nino or El Nina affect?

    Comment by Babs — July 18, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  3. That’s La Nina, Babs…

    Comment by Nancy — July 18, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  4. Mucho Gracious.

    Comment by Babs — July 18, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

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