Say Goodbye to Roses

The roses have hung on a long time this year; I took this photo this morning as it may be the last of them.  Our balmy, mild weather is due to come to a crashing end next week with the arrival of a string of El Niño-driven storms that threaten to dump 6 to 8 inches of rain in the valleys and feet of snow in the mountains.  Hard to believe it today, as it was blue sky and about 74 degrees. 

Rain like this may be common in other parts of the country, but we often only get six inches of rain all year, and so it could be devastating to us.  The main danger is in the areas in the mountains and foothills that burnt this year, as rains like this can turn dry canyons into flows that resemble brown wet concrete that sweeps cars, houses, and bridges down to the ocean.  However we really do need the snow, as a good snowpack melts into the ground slowly recharging underground water tables and is our insurance against drought.

One other strange benifit is that heavy, extended rains act the same as chilling hours, giving excellent crop sets in the San Juaquin valley.  It is not fully understood why, other than something is washed off the trees that make them think they’ve had a cold winter.  The last time this happened was 1995, after an almost tropical winter with very warm temps and heavy rains had farmers terrified of erratic fruit sets; instead, records were broken with heavy crops all around.  We can only hope for the same this year.

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