It's not that dry a winter, yet

I hear a lot of people saying that this winter is the driest on record, but that doesn't seem true to me - at least not yet.  Still, the local NBC station is stating, "Never has Los Angeles gotten less rain than during the calendar year that will end New Year's Eve. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013." 

I think it's only the driest that people can remember.  Since people's memories seem to only go back a few years, this isn't surprising.

At this point in the season I've measured 1.36" in my back yard and the NBC affiliate is claiming 3.6" at USC.  That's a low water year for certain.  However to the degree that I can directly compare either amount to data archived at NOAA, it's not the worst on record.  As recently as Jan 31 of 2007, the dataset that I downloaded from NOAA indicated 1.27" and on the same date in 1999 it indicated 1.19".  Jan 31, 1974 LA reported 0.34" cumulative rainfall and in 1962 reported 0.72"!  How's that for dry?

What can be going on with those numbers?  Why don't they agree better?  I think the answer is that weather is doing what it does best: varying (by location).  In this case it looks like the reporting locations of USC and the dataset I have from NOAA are not the same.  However, I think we can all agree that it is dry.

Water your native plants well now!


Rain barrel rethink?

There is widespread concern over our lack of rain in Southern California so far this year. (If you have natives, now is the time to water deeply so that they last through the summer). In these circumstances, attention naturally turns to using water more effectively.

I've been opposed to rain barrels as an effective means of storing water since our typical rainfall pattern makes them very inefficient. The storms that drop enough water to run off also drop far more than can be effectively stored in a typical 50 or 100 gallon barrel storing run off from a typical roof pitch: It's far better to just keep the water on property in the ground. Of course this assumes that you can create or already have a suitable retention and infiltration area (for many homes this is a lawn area). Also, I think that my analysis was confined to 50 gallon or 100 gallon barrels.

This 350 gallon tank with manifolded drip system is temporarily watering a native plant restoration site in Lunada Canyon, but it reminded me of my rain barrel analysis that condemned their effectiveness.

You'd have to reconcile the industrial look of this barrel with your garden. Perhaps a location in a service yard or behind a screen would make sense.

You wouldn't want to integrate a pump due to the added complications, but if you wanted to keep a hillside watered from above, then this gravity system might be the ticket.

Sent from my iPhone at great expense

- Posted from my iPhone