Los Altos Weather – Soggy February

Northern California and my home town of Los Altos received more rain than normal in January and February 2017, as the atmospheric river continued to flow here. After five years of drought, California’s surface water and snow pack are above normal.

In early March, bee’s bliss sage (salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’) begins to bloom, attracting bees. Bee’s bliss sage is a California native plant that is drought tolerant and likes full sun.

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Los Altos Weather – Storm Door Open in January

An atmospheric river flowed over northern California in January. My home town of Los Altos (near San Francisco) received 5.4″ of rain in January, with measurable rain on 17 out of 31 days.

Northern California reservoirs are full, and the snowpack in our mountains is above normal. Therefore, California’s water distribution system has water to distribute to urban users and farmers, but our forests and fish have not recovered from the drought. Southern California still hasn’t received much rain, but our aqueducts will transport water south. Our filled reservoirs will enable the state to generate more hydroelectric power, reducing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide generation.

Visiting San Francisco between January storms, we saw this juvenile, red-tailed hawk hovering in the wind near the Golden Gate Bridge. The wind blew from the ocean, hit the cliffs, and swept upward — enabling the hawk to hover in the wind. The hawk’s tail is pointing down to provide additional lift, just as airplanes extend their flaps when landing and taking off. The hawk is peering down at the surf, scanning for food. Below, the hawk is near the bridge.

hovering hawk at the Golden Gate Bridge
hovering hawk at the Golden Gate Bridge

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Los Altos Weather – Low Rainfall But More on the Way

In my home town of Los Altos, California, we’ve had below-average rainfall so far in this rainy season. In January the storm door is open, and we’ll hope for the best.

Above, two gray squirrels catch rays on a December morning. One stretches while the other bites an itch.

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ISO Honu and Stars

On Hawaii’s Big Island, we searched for honu (the Hawaiian name for the green sea turtle) and stars. The Big Island has high mountains, and I wanted to photograph the Milky Way from there.

Shown above, a father and son fish at Kiholo Bay, where we looked for honu. We asked a Hilo family camping at the beach, but they hadn’t seen any either. Days later, they emailed us that their auntie saw honu when walking the other way from the parking lot.

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Los Altos Weather – Rainless June

In June my home town of Los Altos, California, received no rain — not surprising for our dry summer. Although the US government expects California’s drought to continue, state and local agencies are reducing water conservation targets for urban users.

This month’s image is a red flame dragonfly sitting on a metal cage for a Sungold tomato in our backyard. The photo was taken on July 4. We resumed growing tomatoes this year after skipping last year. We’re also growing two heirloom varieties: San Marzano and Cherokee Purple.

June temperatures and rainfall

Our June temperatures were normal for us, with the overnight temperatures above average as usual. Higher overnight temperatures favors growing tomatoes. Our agriculture experts advise us to hold off transplanting tomatoes outside until the overnight lows are above 50 degrees F. In the past, this means we wait until May 1, but I transplanted our tomatoes on April 21, and the tomatoes are doing fine.

normal temperatures for June
normal temperatures for June

Our normal rainfall for June is only .09 inches — about the same as the zero rain we received. Our rainfall for the past year was nearly normal, much better than the previous few years. Rainfall since I started tracking this in January 2013 remains unchanged at 61%.

no rain in June
no rain in June
Cumulative rain since January 2013 remains at 61% of normal
Cumulative rain since January 2013 remains at 61% of normal

As California’s drought continues, water conservation targets reduced

While the US government continues to forecast  drought for California, state and local agencies are reducing water conservation targets for urban users.

Drought continues
Drought continues (source: US National Weather Service)

With our nearly normal rainfall last winter, our state and local agencies are reining back calls for urban users to conserve water. In late May,

California on Wednesday suspended its mandatory statewide 25 percent reduction in urban water use, telling local communities to set their own conservation standards after a relatively wet winter and a year of enormous savings in urban water use.

A few weeks later, our county water agency reduced our urban conservation target from 30% to 20%. Our local water company reduced our conservation target from 32% to 20%.