Winter storms and tornado in Huntington Beach, CA

Wow, what a week this has been weather-wise. As the Beach Boys sang, “It never rains in southern California, but when it does, man it pours.” Or something like that.

We’re now in Day 5 of steady rain. So far the burned slopes in inland Orange and Los Angeles Counties are holding, but major mudslides could happen at any moment. About 4,000 people have been evacuated in anticipation of these slides. Fortunately, we live about three miles from the coast on flat land, not in a burn or slide zone. But we’ve had our share of weather-related incidents in town.

A tornado on Tuesday hit about four miles from our house, flipping over an SUV and lifting two catamarans out of the water and depositing them onto the docks. I took some videos of our yard on Tuesday at the height of the storm.

This view out my office window shows rain pouring off our roof. It also show the limited view out my window. I can see the neighbor’s roof and their peach tree, flanked by two Italian cypress trees. Not much of a view, but I enjoy seeing the peach tree change with the seasons.

Our front yard has turned into a swamp. In the high wind, our bird feeder stand snapped at the base, breaking one of the feeders. That was the only damage that we sustained. We were lucky. Others had their cars flooded while parked on streets that flooded. Some had rain driven between the windows and walls, flooding the interior of their houses. And with soil turned this mucky, we’re sure that trees are down somewhere. Power went out to part of our town during the height of the storms.

The street in front of our house turned into a river at the height of the storm. We’ve been picking up palm fronds right and left from our neighbor’s trees.

We have drains in our sidewalk that get clogged with plant debris during storms. Here the drain has clogged and water has backed up. We have to go out during these heavy storms to clear the drains or water backs up into our garage.

You can also see part of my rain water collection “system.” I set out buckets and 20-gallon Rubbermaid trash barrels to collect rain water. Because we’re in a drought (hard to believe that this week), we’re under mandatory water restrictions for watering the yard. To compensate, I am storing rainwater so I can water my veggies without using tap water. I collected 230 gallons during this week’s storms.

Huntington Beach got 4 inches of rain this week, about a quarter of our annual rainfall. Ironically, the water district had to release water from Prado Dam, our biggest local water storage area, due to threat of flooding. So while I collected 230 gallons in my yard, they are releasing a million gallons a MINUTE from the dam, down the Santa Ana River.

This series of storms will end tomorrow, with a tiny storm coming next Tuesday. The only damage to the garden seems to be blossoms knocked off my Florida Prince peach tree, the first of my peaches to bloom. With no bees out and about, I don’t expect much pollination of that tree. I’m hoping for fruit set from the blooms that aren’t open yet. Bring on the sunshine!

(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at www.hbindependent.com /blogs_and_columns/)

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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2 Responses to Winter storms and tornado in Huntington Beach, CA

  1. Sharon says:

    Hi Lou… After venturing out this morning to see if my community garden plot in Santa Monica had floated into the ocean, I am happy to say everything was intact. In fact, my seedlings that I expected to be history, looked bigger and better than ever! It wasn’t long tho before it started coming down in torrents again and I made a beeline home!

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