Complaining about the weather is a favorite pastime for most of us. In the summer, we say it’s too hot. Or too humid. In the winter we complain that it’s too cold. In the spring, we complain about the pollen counts and how they jump-start our allergies. And so on and so on.
Last year, I often wrote about the winter storms pounding our foothills, dumping tons of snow in the Sierra and, in general, fowling up traffic.
Well, it’s a totally different story this year.
This year, the question is: Where’s winter?
Here we are in January and we’re still "enjoying" unseasonably warm, dry weather.
Our temperatures have been in the 50s for weeks. The last measurable rain fell in October. This does not bode well for us.
Normal accumulated rainfall for our area by now is about 17-inches. We’ve gotten less than 4-inches this year. And the forecasters don’t see any precipitation in the near future.
No rain here in the foothills. No snow up the hill. All the mountain passes are open, something I can’t ever remember before.
No snow means no skiers. The ski resorts are empty. And when they’re empty, all the other businesses here in Gold Rush territory are too.
This afternoon I stopped in to visit my friend Barbara, who owns Prestidge Gallery in downtown Angels Camp. Her gallery features the best in Gold Country photography, painting and porcelain. After the usual "happy New Year" greetings, I asked how business was and she confided that most everyone on Main Street is just barely holding on.
"When there’s no skiing, there’s no anything in the winter," she said. "No shopping, no one in the restaurants or motels. Nothing."
Besides all the businesses that are hurting for lack of snow, the ranchers around here are also concerned. Winter rains in the foothills fill their fields with grass that feeds the cattle herds (as well as our abundant small wildlife). No rain, no grass. No grass means hard-pressed ranches now have to shop for feed for their herds. And if they can’t afford the price, they’ll have to sell their cattle at a loss.
And with no snow and no rain, we continue living with the danger of wildfire. Generally the wildfire season ends in October when the rains arrive. But not this year.
Those of us living with private wells, also worry about our wells going dry. We rely on winter rains to recharge our wells and set seasonal streams flowing. But not this year.
I still love our beautiful sunrises and sunsets. And have posted a photo here of our neighbor’s meadow early last month…the flock of Canada geese have made the horse pasture their own.
Still, like my neighbors throughout Northern California, I’m missing winter this year.