From the Ground Up

Gardening, books, and other interests

I’ve been kind of fascinated by news reports of extreme weather conditions across the country. Birmingham, Alabama is not usually what comes to mind when you hear the words “snow blizzard”.

Here’s a photo of a frozen Niagara Falls from last weekend. Looks chilly.



As of January 29, the Great Lakes are 62% ice-covered, which is up from 48% coverage on January 22. It was interesting to find out that, paradoxically, the more frozen the Great Lakes become, the less “lake effect” on the local weather conditions. “Lake effect” occurs when the lake water is warmer than the air, so frozen water means no warming effect, and no snow. It becomes drier, sunnier, and quite a bit colder…

Is the polar vortex responsible for our colder-than-usual winter? Actually, no, according to weather experts. It’s been a couple of decades since we’ve had a real winter, but in the 70’s and 80’s the winters were not different from what what we’re experiencing now. We just forgot, that’s all.

Check out this article from NPR:This Photo of Lake Michigan Will Make You Shiver


1 Comment

The 100-Year Drought


I’ve been thinking a lot about the water shortage since the Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency last week. It’s pretty clear that the situation is getting dire, with evidence everywhere you look: reservoirs are running at below half of normal; the snowpack is at 20% to 15% of normal; January temperatures have been abnormally high; and red flag fire conditions have been declared in many communities that haven’t seen any rain at all during what are supposed to be the wettest months of the year. This is serious and it affects the economy in general. The impact will be felt by farmers, ranchers, and consumers not just throughout the state but throughout the country.

And locally? So far the Governor has asked residents to voluntarily cut back water usage by 20%, but soon we’re definitely going to reach the point of mandatory rationing– it’s just a matter of when and how soon. During all of  2013, Los Angeles only got 3.4 inches of rain– that’s less than 1/5 of what is considered “average” rainfall.

I’m grateful that several of my recent clients have ripped out their lawns and requested that they be replaced with drought-tolerant landscaping and drip irrigation. Thank goodness people are getting the picture.