It Never Lets Up

California Appears To Be A-Changing

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there seems to be a serious discrepancy in weather forecasts, especially with regards to the duration of heat waves in the coastal area. A three-day heat wave was predicted for Zip 90025 beginning July 5 of this year. The first day of the heat wave was indeed a scorcher, with the mercury at nearby UCLA topping off at 111°, a new record. Then we were supposed to go down to the Seventies (Fahrenheit), but every day since then, for six weeks and counting it has been in the Nineties or, at the very least, in the high Eighties.

My apartment was built in another era when there used to be cool summers. Therefore, we have no insulation. We are on the top floor, and the roof superheats and makes the inside temperature 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside temperature until the middle of the night. I have slept atop the blankets for six weeks, burrowing under the covers in my sleep when it finally cools off.

What is worse, when it gets hot in Southern California during the early summer, the humidity is much higher than normal, making the heat feel more oppressive than the temperature reading. The reason is that, for the deserts of the Southwest, this is the rainy season, with monsoonal moisture coming up from Mexico and causing humidity and, in the deserts, rain.

Two or three days a week, I head for the Westfield Mall in Culver City to enjoy their air conditioning, read a book, and eat lunch. By the time I return home, around three or four in the afternoon, it is hot and muggy indoors. But at least I have had some comfort.

For those of you in the metric zone, here is a translation of the Fahrenheit readings mentioned in this post:

  • 111° F = 44° C
  • Seventies F = 21-26° C
  • Eighties F = 27-32° C
  • Nineties F = 32-37° C

My brother thinks that the weathermen deliberately underestimate the length of a heat wave just to keep people coming back to their news station for current updates. But then, why do that on the Internet, too?

 

My Los Angeles

Tree on Ocean Avenue in Venice

I guess that by now I’m officially an Angeleno. It was late in December 1966 that I took a train to arrive at L.A.’s Union Station and was met by former neighbors from Cleveland, Ohio. It was the first time I had ever been west of Chicago, so all I saw was new to me. All that pastel stucco instead of the sooty red brick of Northeastern Ohio. The plants were all different. The climate was strange. Even the people were somewhat odd. Fortunately, I was rooming on Sunset Boulevard with a friend from Dartmouth College days, with whom I am still a close friend.

Mind you, I did not take to the place at once. For years, I thought of myself as an Easterner. It was only by slow degrees that the light of Southern California, with those beautiful sunsets over the Pacific, started to work a sea change in me. There were some things that repulsed me. Numero Uno: Earthquakes. The Sylmar quake of 1971 hurled me out of my bed and scared the stuffing out of me. Last night, while I was recording a Max Ophüls film—The Earrings of Madame de … (1953)—on videotape, I felt a sharp jolt. Even after all these years, I felt a moment of terror. Should I run for the bedroom hallway, where I would be safe from falling building parts? Should I just shrug my shoulders? I opted to go to bed.

Martine is even more nonchalant about temblors than I am—probably because she never felt one of the big ones, such as the ones in 1971 and 1994. Ah, well, she’ll learn!

I still don’t think much of L.A. drivers. They tend to be lazy about following the law, such as signalling lane changes and crashing red lights and stop signs. But then, it could be that way in most other big cities, too. I seem to remember not liking to drive in Miami, Calgary or Las Vegas either.

Some things I really like about Los Angeles are:

  • The food. California looks South (Latin America) and West (Asia) for its cuisine.
  • The politics. As a determined Trumpf-hater I feel in good company in this very Blue State.
  • The mountains. There are some mountains in Los Angeles County that are 10,000 feet high, a far cry flat flat Ohio.
  • The deserts. So we don’t get much rain, but the deserts of the Southwest are beautiful, so long as you don’t make the mistake of visiting them at the wrong time.
  • The coast. Driving along the Pacific can be gorgeous, especially in the early morning before the Beemer bozos get out of bed.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the weather. I’ve never liked really hot weather: And every year we get about 20 days of horrendously torrid weather. Fortunately, Martine and I live only two miles inland from the coast, so we can usually catch a few breezes, but not always.

Thunder and Lightning and Rain

This Never Happens in L.A., Does It?

This Never Happens in L.A., Does It?

It is a well-known fact that I have become openly contemptuous of all he hoopla about this year’s El Niño predictions. Well, early this morning, we were hit by a major thunderstorm that abated just as I started dressing up to go to work. There was, in addition to the thunder, considerable lightning and rain. In Altadena, my friend Bill Korn showed pictures of his vegetable garden under a layer of fall hail.

I guess, better late than never. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more of these storms over the next couple of months. We still need to fill those reservoirs and deepen that Sierra snow pack.

 

Get the H Out of There!

The Atacama-ization of Southern California

The Atacama-ization of Southern California

This was supposed to be a wet rainy season, courtesy of the strongest El Niño in years. Well, February is almost over; and we rarely get much, if any, rain in March and April. The El Niño has sent a lot of rain to Northern California, which is good, but now a high pressure ridge is setting up in the Rockies which will dry everything out and make the mercury rise. And it may result in the dwindling of the now respectable snowpack in the Sierras.

By the picture caption above, I mean that Southern California is becoming North America’s own equivalent of Chile’s Atacama Desert, where it almost never rains. I believe the last flood in the Atacama was witnessed by Noah.

In the meantime, Martine and I scoff more than ever at weather reporters. El Ninny strikes again!

In the Swamp

I Thought This Was a Desert Here!

I Thought This Was a Desert Here!

For most of the year, Southern California is a desert. In June and July, however, it turns into a swamp. Mexican hurricanes send moisture across the border and make the air sticky and wet.This condition leaves local weather forecasters nonplussed, if only because they do not acknowledge weather that sneaks over the border. Thanks to my friend, Bill Korn, there is a website that shows the Canadian and Mexican effects on our climate.

IThis morning, I felt as if I had slept in a swamp. I just could not get up until around one in the afternoon. Although I am at work now, I still do not feel very good and will probably leave early. Humid weather just never agrees with me.

 

Sliced Off at the Knees

The Weather Stops at El Border

The Weather Stops at El Border?

On many counts (almost too numerous to mention) the news is a partial and usually misleading travesty. Take the weather, as represented by this morning’s precipitation map off the Weather Channel’s weather.com. We are approaching the time of year when our weather comes not from the west or north, but from Mexico.

Even as I write this, Hurricane Bianca is threatening the State of Baja California Sur. What does that mean for Southern California? It means that we get the northern edge of whatever monsoonal weather is hitting Northwest Mexico. Stray clouds, winds, and precipitation do occasionally sneak across the fence at the border and make their way to El Ciudad de Los Angeles.

So what use is it to us when we get a weather report that ignores everything south of the line? No, the earth does not change color at that point, and the weather does move around by laws that do not respect national boundaries.

Over the next few weeks, we expect humid weather with possible light showers—not sufficient to rain on our parade or affect the drought in any significant way. But it nonetheless is a factor we should not ignore.

Turtles—But No Rain

Turtles at Mulberry Pond

Turtles at Mulberry Pond

There is a Native American rain ritual involving turtles, which, being a Hungarian American, I feel would not work if I performed it. So I watched the turtles at Descanso Gardens, which seemed to be having a population explosion. Maybe they’re doing the rain turtle ceremony themselves; and maybe, later in March, we will have a proper inundation.

I have come to suspect, however, that weather forecasters are evil sorcerers. Whenever we get some measurable rain, and we’ve had more so far than last year at this time, I believe that the forecasters suck it all up for filling their swimming pools. They take such pleasure in telling us after every rain that it did nothing to relieve the drought: In fact, it probably made it worse.

Then, whether the weather gets hot and dry, they take even more pleasure in announcing how lovely the weather is, what with all the surrounding brown hillsides with are bound to catch fire in the fall.

There’s more here than meets the eye!