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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Golden Gate Bridge in November

This week we took a road trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Golden Gate is the gap in the mountains were the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The Bridge spans the gap between San Francisco and Marin County. With clear skies and a high of 61 degrees F, it was a beautiful day for bicycling and hiking.

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Los Altos Weather: Fairly Wet March

Despite the promise of high rainfall due to El Niño, March rainfall in my home town of Los Altos, California was about normal. March marks the end of our wet season. Our dry season starts now, with our average monthly rainfall being less than an inch per month through October. Barring unusually rainy weather during our dry season, our drought will continue for months.

Plans to counter sea-level rise by building levees around San Francisco Bay may be hampered by a lack of mud, according to the Scientific American.

The featured image is blue-eyed grass, sisyrinchium bellum, which is blooming now. A California native plant, it’s a bunching grass with small, purple to blue flowers.

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Sandhill Cranes in the Delta

In early January we drove to California’s delta to see sandhill cranes wintering there. Sandhill cranes are tall (.8 – 1.2 m or 2.5 ft – 4 ft) with large wingspans (1.6 – 2.3 m or 5.5 ft – 7.5 ft). Sandhill cranes soar well and migrate long distances. With their long legs, neck and wings, they need time and space to take off, so they land in open fields. Sandhill cranes stay in groups for safety in numbers, with one or more cranes on the lookout while others root for seeds or anything else they can find.

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A Day in San Francisco

Last week we dined in San Francisco during SF Restaurant Week, when restaurants offer discounted, fixed-price meals.  We rode the train to the City and walked along the Embarcadero, taking in views of the bay. San Francisco is getting ready for the Super Bowl and Chinese New Year.

Shown above, the San Francisco Embarcadero is named for the many piers used to embark on voyages when San Francisco was a port. The wooden piers require fire boats in case of fire. Most of the piers are gone, and the fire boat is still needed. Today the Embarcadero is a great promenade. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge stretches toward Yerba Buena Island.

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El Corte de Madera Creek OSP

Last Thursday I went on a hike at El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve (OSP), sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. The preserve is named for the creek; the name means place to cut wood in Spanish. There were a lot of trees when the Spanish first settled here, but the area was clear cut in the late 19th century. We saw an 1800-year-old redwood tree, an interesting rock formation, the Pacific Ocean, and California native plants.

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Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center

Last Wednesday members of the water group of GreenTown Los Altos toured the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, which processes waste water to levels of drinking water. Currently the processed water is used for landscaping and air conditioning, but plans are afoot to inject the treated water into sources of Silicon Valley’s drinking water. From the Center’s website,

The $72 million state-of-the-art facility receives secondary-treated effluent from the neighboring San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility and purifies it to a very high quality using proven purification processes—microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection.

The result is 8 million gallons a day of highly purified water that is expected to match California drinking water quality standards.

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