“Old superlatives have been dusted off and new ones count to better describe the tragedy, damage, and trauma associated with the State’s latest ‘unusual’ weather experience.” DWR Bulletin 69-83, California High Water 1982-83, p.1
The state’s first notable wildfire of the year broke out a week ago in the San Bernardino National Forest, signaling the start of the fire season and creating an odd juxtaposition.
At about the same time, some 300 miles to the north, Yosemite National Park announced it was temporarily closing because of the threat from anticipated melting of the vast Sierra snowpack.
California, which has been battered by extreme weather for some time, is used to being whipsawed by the elements — though not quite like this past year.
Mark Pestrella is the director of L.A. County Public Works, which oversees 27 spreading grounds and 14 dams that both hold most of our local water supply as well as prevent massive flooding in the cities below.
Pestrella said he isn’t losing sleep over a megaflood. His biggest concern? The increasing severity of smaller, but intense storms — like many we experienced this winter.
Just west of this normally dusty prison town, a civic nightmare is unfolding: Tulare Lake, a body of water that did not exist just two months ago, now stretches to the horizon — a vast, murky sea in which the tops of telephone poles can be seen stretching eerily into the distance.
As we entered the fall of 2022 in California, news headlines read of a 1,200-year drought and state agencies warned the current drought from 2020 to 2022 was the driest on record.
In a matter of weeks, stories changed to talk of flooding, mudslides, and record rainfall. The New Year brought one of the wettest months on record in California. This set of evolving headlines is nothing new.