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Sign of a bad winter coming?

 
steward & bricolagier
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We have all heard the things about wooly bear caterpillars and squirrels hiding nuts on the north side of a tree or whatever meaning it's going to be a hard winter. I have a new one to add to the mythology!

Yesterday at my barn there was a tarp that had been moved from where I left it, it was under a pallet, where the woodchuck has a hole.  I tugged on it, see if it would come out, it was in there tight, so I left it alone. Guess he can have it. I didn't know woodchucks wanted tarps, but, I learn things all the time .

My question is what does it mean for the upcoming winter when woodchucks steal tarps?  

I'll call their 800 number, maybe I'll get an answer!
 
pollinator
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Well it took awhile because they could not find a translator for English into Woodchuck, but when they finally located one, I now know.

It seems since 2000 or so, what they call Millennial-Chucks, they have gotten rather lazy in burrowing, so there is a movement in the woodchuck community to taking to stealing tarps for shelter. Rather than to dig down in the traditional, old way of having underground houses, they have been taken to building Woodchuck-WOFATI's. They need tarps for that.

Incidentally, I found out Puxatoney Phil is bringing a lawsuit against the Puxatoney Officials that disturb his sleep every Feb 2nd. I cannot blame the rodent, I get pretty miffed when someone wakes me up from a good nap myself. But as I told the Dial-A-Woodchuck translator; at least they get recognition; there is a National Groundhog Day, but sadly no National Farmers Day for me. And no woodchucks are killed on that day unlike Thanksgiving where only one turkey gets pardoned out of millions of Turkey's. Yes, it is better to be woken up from a nap than have stuffing placed in your bottom, be stuck with an pop-up oven timer in your side, and be amputated and decapitated.
 
Travis Johnson
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All kidding aside, it seems we are in for a mild winter. We are due to get snow at any minute, but good gracious we are a week into November, the grass is still green and we have only dipped down into the 20's a few times this fall.

All the signs I see of a mild/harsh winter are showing it will be mild. That is unusual because last year was a tough winter, and winters usually come in pairs. It should be a tough winter, but the jet-stream is running a bit different and thus bringing in lots of warm air up from the southwest (Caribbean).

All the wasp and yellow jacket nests I see are on the ground, not way up high indicating in folk tale anyway, that it will be a mild winter.
 
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I am currently lying on my portable mattress in an unheated house that I'm working on. There is frost outside. I've had to take off some blankets because I got too hot in my super thick track pants.

It was about two years ago and I was in a similar situation, when I started seriously thinking about moving to the tropics. I talked to my wife in the Philippines a few minutes ago and the temperature is about 82 degrees. They're having a very mild winter.

My grandmother used to shut down her house in Ontario, and stay with relatives in Florida, during the winter, sometimes. She always carpooled with a bunch of other relatives, so her total fuel consumption was very little. And then her fuel consumption was just about nothing during the mild Florida winter.

It would be interesting to learn what my share of the jet fuel is, when I escape winter in this way and then return in the spring. I wonder how that would compare to heating a home throughout the winter.
 
pollinator
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If it's nice in Maine in November, that might mean it will be horrible down here soon.....
 
pollinator
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I think the way it seems to go sometimes is that if somewhere it's supposed to be bad is better than is usual, that badness will not only have been displaced by something, like a warm weather system from the south, but will also be displaced to somewhere.

This article seems to indicate that the northwestern states will have a delayed winter, with serious cold arriving in January. It also indicates some ups and downs throughout the rest of the country.

This article seems to suggest that Ontario and Quebec will have more snowfall than previous years, with conditions being right in January-ish for ice storms.

And the squirrels around here have bushy tails. Very, very bushy tails.



Winter is coming.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:I think the way it seems to go sometimes is that if somewhere it's supposed to be bad is better than is usual, that badness will not only have been displaced by something, like a warm weather system from the south, but will also be displaced to somewhere.



Down here in the bottom part of South America, we're supposed to have an extra wet and extra hot summer. So far it's been delivering on both accounts (lots of crazy dog-day storms already and summer hasn't even begun, and unseasonable hot spells). Up higher, drought expected to be more intense than usual. In other words, more of everything.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:
All the signs I see of a mild/harsh winter are showing it will be mild. That is unusual because last year was a tough winter, and winters usually come in pairs.


Oh, really! I just recently decided that winters here seem to alternate each year. Last year was cloudy and chilly, though not bitter cold, but in my passive solar-heated house it was a cold one. The previous winter was warmer than usual, and the one before that was colder than usual, so I decided I'd found a pattern.

Oh well, this winter I'm not living at the school where I used to live anymore, so I don't have to stick around to support ice hockey season, so I'm flyin' south to see a total eclipse of the sun in Sri Lanka on Boxing Day. Yay!
 
gardener
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Don’t hate me, but I want a terribly cold and snowy winter!!

I love winter, but Southern Illinois has very mild winters.  We do get snow and sometimes even heavy snows, but it is not the snow of my youth.

Growing up in Central Illinois we would get nice and cold winters.  When we got snow it usually came with wind and we always had drifting during the winter.  Often very heavy drifting.  I liked walking over drifts so solid I would not even leave a footprint.  Traveling north to the family farm in Minnesota was even better!

I truly love Southern Illinois, but the winters are almost wimpy for my preference.  I teach high school and we still get snow days—just as many as I did growing up but we get them for piddling amounts of snow.  In fact, many/most of my students don’t know what a snow drift is, have not even heard the word!

I miss real winters so I am hoping for a “bad” one.

Eric
 
Chris Kott
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I would like to see several weeks of hard deep freeze, maybe punctuated with an ice storm, and bookended by heavy snowfall. Like two or three feet in the streets of Toronto.

Without doing too much more damage to perennials than a good hard prune, I would like to see the overwintering haemophage population crippled, especially any southern invaders carrying nasty things. Funnily enough,  one that I wish to avoid at all costs, the Powassan virus, is either local, or was first found here, but is being spread in the untied states by the Lone Star tick.

And squirrels. All the varmints, really, as we've had population booms that are causing disease, visible in the squirrels, at least. The red-tailed hawks love the abundant food source, but I hope they won't be adversely affected by sick meat.

-CK
 
pollinator
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I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I am going to have a harsh winter. I have planted a massive winter garden with the assumption we are going to have a mild winter. So, it is natural for me to assume that we will have the worst winter of my life.
 
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I believe winter severity and my woodpile are inversely correlated. I normally burn 4 full cords of wood each winter. This year I have 5 at least so I know its going to be a mild winter because thats how my luck rolls.

I know its been a hard winter when I start planning to retire to Nicaragua, and then spring comes and Ontario does seems so bad anymore.
 
Travis Johnson
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Eric Hanson wrote:Don’t hate me, but I want a terribly cold and snowy winter!!

I love winter, but Southern Illinois has very mild winters.  We do get snow and sometimes even heavy snows, but it is not the snow of my youth.

Growing up in Central Illinois we would get nice and cold winters.  When we got snow it usually came with wind and we always had drifting during the winter.  Often very heavy drifting.  I liked walking over drifts so solid I would not even leave a footprint.  Traveling north to the family farm in Minnesota was even better!

I truly love Southern Illinois, but the winters are almost wimpy for my preference.  I teach high school and we still get snow days—just as many as I did growing up but we get them for piddling amounts of snow.  In fact, many/most of my students don’t know what a snow drift is, have not even heard the word!

I miss real winters so I am hoping for a “bad” one.

Eric



I have a picture somewhere on my father using our Kubota Tractor to pull the school bus up over the hill with about 6 inches of snow on the road. Growing up, it was just expected that the high school boys would help put the chains on the bus if they were needed.

Today was our first day of snow, and yet we have already had 2 days of school canceled...both days were for high wind. It knocked the power out. Can you imagine, calling off school because homes were without power?

Last year it was even worse, they called off school because they did not have enough bus drivers to take the kids to school.
 
steward
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Here in Tennessee, folklore says that if the squirrels build their nests low in the trees, winter will be worse, and if nests are built high in the trees, winter will be mild.

Chris Kott wrote:I would like to see several weeks of hard deep freeze....



You and me both. In the last 30 years, fire ants have moved northward from Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. I have them on my farm, and reading about them, good deep freezing soil kills the colony, and is why they're a southern thing. Winters of my childhood I recall as freezing cold, for a long time. Not so much any more. Nowadays winters here tend to often be mild, with only about a week, usually in January, where temps don't get above freezing.
 
gardener
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We missed out on hurricane rains here in CenTex. Things are dry. 200 miles east and they got 40"+ in a weekend. So things are sporadic. Either too much or too little.

I normally have 100's of green cherry tomatos on the plants when the frosts kill them. This year i had 10's of them. Lol. I think the killing frosts came very early.

That's my summary so far.


 
Travis Johnson
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It is supposed to get in the low 30's this week for highs, so the ground will stiffen up some with that. There is enough water in the soil, all it has done is rain, and I am trying to log. It is so muddy that I have to cut my logs where the tree lands, and then go with 7 logs because that is all I have for chokers. It is not efficient, but what else can I do when the belly of the skidder is dragging on the ground all the way out. I have to do all my cutting BEFORE the logs get muddy because otherwise I would be filing my chainsaw every twitch.
 
Chris Kott
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I guess there's usually too much snow to log when the ground is frozen?

Do people actually fell trees in winter, or do they just skid them?

I know that a farmer around where we used to have a cottage in eastern Ontario used to pull logs out in the winter with his horses, but I never asked if they were cut when it was warm, or if the chainsaw worked well enough on frozen trunk.

-CK
 
pollinator
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Winter is the traditional time for felling trees because the sap is down. I mean logging is done year round here in Michigan, but winter is the best time for dropping trees. I've felled trees when it was cold enough for chainsaws to freeze solid when you set them down. We had to keep a fire going to thaw saws and gloves. So cold that the trees would pop and crack in the wind. Also it does less damage to the forest floor skidding logs when the ground is frozen. You can always tell what logs were cut in the winter cause they hold their bark, where as summer cut logs the bark sloughs off.
 
Jeff Marchand
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Oh I know this one!

It is good forestry practice to log in winter once the ground is frozen. You do much less damage to the soil once its frozen. Less ruts and compaction. But we get four feet of snow most winters.  Thats too deep for my tractor and its no fun walking in the bush when the white sh*t is up past your waist.  So I try to log in late fall once ground is hard but we only have a few inches of that fracking SN*W.
 
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I watched a squirrel bury a nut on north side of hickory tree just a minute ago
guess I better get more firewood put up for winter
 
Dale Hodgins
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There are many advantages to winter logging. The aforementioned sap and lack of soil damage. And it means that logs don't get dragged home covered in mud. Important for firewood and much more important if it's going to be sawn into lumber. Winter is often a time of lower workload , because you can't be plowing and planting etc.

I have a relative in Ontario who specializes in swamp logging. He waits until things are frozen up hard and he often runs his horses over the planned trails in order to compact the snow and allow a deeper freeze. When he drops his trees, they don't get muddy. His horses wear special shoes that help them deal with slippery conditions.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:All kidding aside, it seems we are in for a mild winter. We are due to get snow at any minute, but good gracious we are a week into November, the grass is still green and we have only dipped down into the 20's a few times this fall.



Last year, we had a really mild winter. We had one tiny snow sometime in December, with like 1 or 2 inches of snow that melted in a day. Most days it was warm. There was very few frosty nights. The kids and I were bummed that there wasn't going to be any snow.

...and then mid February came around! We had snow after snow.  We had the deepest snow I'd experienced since I was 9, 25 years ago. It was over a foot, and it kept snowing. It'd stop snowing for a few days, but never enough to melt through all the snow. And then it'd snow some more. Never in my life did I experience a full MONTH with snow coating the ground. And, that was in February and March!

Needless to say, the kids and I had a blast sledding and building snow men and snow forts. And, the fact that winter is really warm early on, is no insurance that it'll be warm later on!
 
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It's getting downright cold here in Los Angeles as well.  The weekend forecast calls for the temp to be 90 tomorrow, and 91 on Saturday.  I may have to put a bit of chlorine in the pool or i'll get an algae bloom,
BUT, we've stopped leaving the sliding door open 2 feet wide at night in the bedroom.  Now it's only open 8 inches or so.  Some nights, I have to reach down to the foot of the bed and pull up the bedspread, as it's so chilly.



 
Travis Johnson
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Marco Banks wrote:It's getting downright cold here in Los Angeles as well.  The weekend forecast calls for the temp to be 90 tomorrow, and 91 on Saturday.  I may have to put a bit of chlorine in the pool or i'll get an algae bloom,
BUT, we've stopped leaving the sliding door open 2 feet wide at night in the bedroom.  Now it's only open 8 inches or so.  Some nights, I have to reach down to the foot of the bed and pull up the bedspread, as it's so chilly.



It is interesting because when I traveled globally, the warm places in the United States were the hardest to get sleep. Granted this was at hotels, but in places like Florida, the hotels provide a top sheet, then a cover blanket...that is it. Well up here in the great white north, there is always a heavier mid-blanket. That is in hotel rooms, and on my own bed. So over the years I have grown accustomed to that weight on me. Take that weight away, and I cannot sleep good...I feel like I am naked!

As for room temperature. We keep the main part of our house around 70 degrees, but the bedrooms we keep at 63. (But we do not sleep naked either (LOL).
 
Travis Johnson
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I have always loved winter because a lot of the stuff I love, are winter based: logging, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice hockey, etc.

Even I will look at the temperature outside and want to snuggle up next to the woodstove, but once I get outside, fire up the chainsaw, or the snowmobile, or strap on snowshoes, I am glad I did. Once you get moving, even in the deepest cold, I am always warm.
 
Travis Johnson
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Jeff Marchand wrote:Oh I know this one!

It is good forestry practice to log in winter once the ground is frozen. You do much less damage to the soil once its frozen. Less ruts and compaction. But we get four feet of snow most winters.  Thats too deep for my tractor and its no fun walking in the bush when the white sh*t is up past your waist.  So I try to log in late fall once ground is hard but we only have a few inches of that fracking SN*W.



My tractor does okay up to about a foot of snow, but I am all done after that. My bulldozer will go in deeper snow, but more so because it can push it out of the way if I need to. The skidder does okay in about 3 feet of snow, but much deeper than that, and I am like you...wading around in snow up to my waist is just too tiring, and not worth logging. But here it only gets waist deep for a short period of time. Typically we will get a rain storm or something, and it will get knocked down. But that is why I say winter here is actually pretty short in duration; snow is only on the ground for about 10 weeks.

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We had 3 degrees F last night.  For November, that's extreme.
 
Dan Allen
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:All kidding aside, it seems we are in for a mild winter. We are due to get snow at any minute, but good gracious we are a week into November, the grass is still green and we have only dipped down into the 20's a few times this fall.



Last year, we had a really mild winter. We had one tiny snow sometime in December, with like 1 or 2 inches of snow that melted in a day. Most days it was warm. There was very few frosty nights. The kids and I were bummed that there wasn't going to be any snow.

...and then mid February came around! We had snow after snow.  We had the deepest snow I'd experienced since I was 9, 25 years ago. It was over a foot, and it kept snowing. It'd stop snowing for a few days, but never enough to melt through all the snow. And then it'd snow some more. Never in my life did I experience a full MONTH with snow coating the ground. And, that was in February and March!

Needless to say, the kids and I had a blast sledding and building snow men and snow forts. And, the fact that winter is really warm early on, is no insurance that it'll be warm later on!



Good point, and much in line with the extended forecast I have seen. It's a neutral weather pattern, neither LA Nina nor El nino, so it will probably be mild and extra wet till jan/feb then a polar vortex will dip down. But it will probably be a very mild winter in the southeast. We're already getting accumulation of snow where we usually don't see any till around Christmas.
 
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I got this email from my sister in Ontario and thought it would give some of you a smile:
"Brought in the sand, the boot trays to put it on and will bring in the snow shovels shortly to the back porch.  Might get 10cm tomorrow night of lake effect.  This is not snow just Lake Ontario redistributing itself onto the land.
Or the weather network could be wrong.

Gail cleaned her gutters yesterday in preparation.  The fun of living in Canada.  Sure beats the fires in California and Australia."

It's all a matter of perspective!
 
Travis Johnson
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Life is really a crap shoot where I live.

I am just coastal enough, but up the coastline for a ways so it really depends on the storm.

Sometimes New England is rumored to get "hammered", but that is a storm that rips across the country and blows over Boston, perhaps clips Portland, Maine and then goes out to sea. I have seen times when Boston has several feet of snow, and we can still see the grass.

But other times the Presidential Mountain Range deflects the storms and channels them right up into where we live, it blows by us dropping a foot of snow, then swirls around New Brunswick and pounds us again. This is called a Nor'easter and when we get them, we get several feet of storm in the same storm.

We keep getting wind storms in October these last few years that we never got before, but other then the power being out, it really is not much. For the most part we are geared up for snow. Things close, we push the snow out of the way, fire up the generators, and stoke the stoves. Back up heat, and back up power is just what is expected for every homeowner here.

Last year alone I heated my home with propane, firewood, wood pellets and coal. It was not (4) types running at the same time, it just shows that I have a lot of options when it comes to staying warm.
 
pollinator
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I'm thinking it's going to be a hard winter, because I would rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed on this one :)
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
It would be interesting to learn what my share of the jet fuel is, when I escape winter in this way and then return in the spring. I wonder how that would compare to heating a home throughout the winter.



I'm curious how much you being on that plane, as compared to an empty seat, affects the fuel consumption of that plane.
It's going with or without you.  You could say the difference is your personal carbon footprint.  By going you are actually lowering every other passengers footprint slightly.
I also wonder whose blood I make boil with that thought.
 
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8 degrees here this morning in Ctrl Missouri.

Saw a video of some phd gal saying we're in for a mini ice age due to a solar minimum and planetary alignments. These mini ice ages can last from 10-50 years.
 
Pearl Sutton
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We got our first snow of the year yesterday, and I woke up to -1F outside. I'm glad the woodchuck has a tarp! Hope he and all the other furry things are staying snug.

:D
 
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I was going to post how I woke up to -1F this morning but Pearl beat me to it.  Plus she lives in MISSOURI!!??!?!?!?!?
 
Hamilton Betchman
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Hamilton Betchman wrote:I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I am going to have a harsh winter. I have planted a massive winter garden with the assumption we are going to have a mild winter. So, it is natural for me to assume that we will have the worst winter of my life.



Well, here it comes. The forecast is to be 25 tonight, while the record low is 28. Looks like ill be digging into the linen closet to protect my cauliflower and broccoli for the next two days. My collards will be fine and happy though.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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Mike Haasl wrote:I was going to post how I woke up to -1F this morning but Pearl beat me to it.  Plus she lives in MISSOURI!!??!?!?!?!?


I'm not sure it was solidly -1F, I know it was solidly 6F, but the -1F may have been mostly wind chill aberration. The rental we are in has 2 graveyards to the north, and the wind just roars over them and hits us.

But yeah, I'm in a cold pocket microclimate, the whole town is a bit, we are always about 4 degrees lower than 10 miles away, and this house is a few degrees colder than the rest of town, as is my property (but I've designed for it, unlike this rental.) So, yeah, cold here! But it won't last as long into the day as yours, you have more solid cold. We just slammed down last night, and will bounce back out of it fast.
 
Jay Angler
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So you guys don't want to know that our low was +7 C (sorry, my F only works for oven temperatures). I'd have gladly accepted colder if it meant we'd have sun. It's low clouds and rain and the north side of the house roof is *finally* patched, but the south side is going to be worse as there are two large dormers to work around and the roof is steep and treacherous when dry... Please send sun.
 
pollinator
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Here in NE Ohio...the wooly bears have a larger brown band this year...so for those inclined to believe it - we're looking forward to a milder winter.  

However, it's November 12 today, and we're also looking at six inches of snow on the ground here - so who knows?!  
 
Marco Banks
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It's cooled off enough that I started a bunch of new veggies in pots this morning.  I planted three different varieties of cabbage (two regular, and a red variety)—six pots of each.  Also Swiss Chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and head lettuce.  All total, about 35 pots of stuff.  Now I wait for it to sprout and my winter garden is underway.  Every two weeks, I'll plant some more.

We had an unusually hot fall, with temps in the 90's the past couple of weeks.  But last week cooled off and this week I'm starting the nursery back up.  They're even predicting some rain for next week (although we'll see if it actually happens).  We haven't had a drop of rain since early March.  Yup -- winter is upon us.

A "bad" winter is when we get less than 10 or 12 inches of rain.  I just hope we get 250 or so chill hours.  A good winter is 18 inches of rain, and 300+ chill hours, hopefully accumulated around Christmas or New Year.  When we get a wet year, it'll be in January with these long 2 to 3 day storms that sit over the Los Angeles basin and scrub the skies of smog.  Los Angeles is a giant concrete surface, with all the creeks and rivers turned into concrete channels many years ago.  But there is a movement afoot to tear out a lot of that hardscaping, to restore the rivers, and to capture as much of that rainwater as we can.  People freak out when it rains a half-inch ("How can we even drive in that stuff!") but I love it.  I channel as much of the water that falls on my house to go out to the orchard and soak the soil.  I'd like to find a way to catch the water that falls on the street in front of the house and pump it to the back yard where it will be stored in the soil.  Some day I'll dig some sort of sump and install a pump to capture that water before it flows into the storm drain and out to the ocean.

So let winter come!  Let it rain!  Let my little cabbages sprout and grow!  Let the oranges get ripe and the avocados keep getting fatter — it's winter!
 
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