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Dam It [Feb. 13th, 2017|10:06 pm]
So yesterday an evacuation was ordered for about 180,000 people in the flood plains below Oroville Dam, all the way down to Marysville and Yuba City. The concrete spillway that had been closed due to damage last week had to be reopened when the dam's emergency spillway, which is a broad concrete structure above a bare hillside, began releasing water and the hillside began to erode rapidly.

The erosion created a narrow canyon which was moving uphill, and which eventually could have reached the spillway structure itself and swallowed a chunk of it, releasing as much as a 30-foot wall of water that the Feather River would not have been able to contain. The damaged main spillway was then reopened to lower the lake level below the point at which it over-topped the emergency spillway. The damaged main spillway is holding so far, though it will probably be so badly torn up by the additional water flowing down it now that it will have to be entirely rebuilt this summer. The powers responsible for the dam are saying that the dam itself is not in any danger of collapse, the only threat comes from the eroded hillside below the emergency spillway.

They have to keep lowering the water level in the lake as much as possible in anticipation of the next set of storms storms, and hope to have it down a considerable amount before those storms arrive. That will probably be very late Wednesday or early Thursday morning. Luckily, this set of storms will be a bit colder than the last one, so there will be a lot less snow melting in the mountains. That should reduce the amount or water flowing into the lake considerably.

But now there is not only the dam's main spillway that needs to be repaired, but the hillside below the emergency spillway will have to be patched up and made more robust somehow before next year's rains arrive. Currently, rocks are being dumped into the canyon that started to form in the hillside it, but that can only be a temporary fix, and might not be enough to make that spillway safe if the lake over-tops it again. There is going to have to be some major reconstruction going on for quite some time, and it's going to be very expensive.

It's annoying me a bit that all this is happening only a few miles away and I can't get there to look at it. The most interesting thing to happen since the big fire a few years ago, and again I'm stuck watching video on television and the Internet. Hmph. Maybe I'll see if I can find my copy of James Thurber's My Life and Hard Times, which features his classic "The Day the Dam Broke" (amusingly discussed, and with actual historical background, in this weblog post.)
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Clear [Feb. 12th, 2017|08:09 pm]
It was a well night perfect day as far as the weather goes— mild and only partly cloudy, with the softest of breezes bringing the scent of pines and growing grass. A harbinger of spring. The woodpeckers pecked, the cats dozed, and the three rose buds that have been suspended in some sort of rose limbo for weeks actually opened a bit. I don't think those roses will ever fully bloom, though. They had to wait too long and are probably damaged. But we shall see.

The streams I crossed on the way to and from the stores were flowing robustly. Even the ditch that runs alongside the main road a block west of my street had running water in it. It will probably dry up pretty fast, but the other streams will continue strong through the mild spell and get more water when the next set of storms starts coming through on Wednesday. Also, tomorrow is now expected to be mostly cloudy and a lot cooler than today was, but Tuesday is still expected to be clear and mild.

The nephew did manage to pay back most of the money he owed me, so I didn't have to do the triage on my shopping list after all. I still missed out on an item that was sold out, and for which I forgot to get a rain check, and an item that I just totally forgot to buy at the other store. Maybe I can pick them up on my way home from the chiropractor's office Tuesday afternoon. For now I can easily do without them.

I've got frozen stuff to heat up for dinner. I will go do that now, and check on the feral cats while it's cooking. The one who was missing for a few days after what was probably a fight is now back and recuperating. Oddly he's friendlier toward me now than he was before. The other cats are a bit miffed at the attention he's getting, but they'll get over it.

Sunday VerseCollapse )
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Confusing [Feb. 11th, 2017|06:47 pm]
The feral cats enjoyed the first of the four mild days in a row we'll be getting. Toward afternoon they moved from the sunny spots where they'd been napping into the shade. The air was brisk enough, but the direct sunlight felt hot. There was also a soft, dry breeze from the north for much of the day, which will help dry things out. My soggy back porch doormat would probably have dried out completely if I'd remembered to hang it over the fence sooner. I didn't get it up there until about three o'clock, though, so it's going to take another day to get dry.

I'm doing triage on my shopping list for tomorrow because the nephew who owes me money (again) didn't come through, and probably won't before I go to the stores. In fact I'll be lucky if he comes through before next weeks shopping trip. Lucky for him I bought well ahead on cat food, because if I ran out of that I'd have to feed him to the cats.

My appointment with the chiropractor is Tuesday, as far as I know. Nobody has called to cancel it, at any rate. It's not a moment too soon, as I haven't had an adjustment for eight weeks, and I really need it. But I just realized that it's going to be on Valentine's Day. I'm not clear on how that holiday works. If I go to the chiropractor on Valentine's Day does that mean I have to take him chocolate or flowers, or even both? Or can I get away with giving him just a card and a kiss? These Christian customs are so confusing to me.
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This is Happening [Feb. 10th, 2017|08:57 pm]
The last band in the current series of storms has moved in over the last half hour. There was some sunshine this afternoon, which the feral cats and I both enjoyed, and I was able to get a look at the full moon for a while as it rose through bands of clouds, but now the sky is completely overcast again. I'm also hearing thunder, though I have not yet seen any lightning.

There have been a few brief but intense showers, and some pretty fierce rain and even some hail will probably fall soon. It's a small storm, though, and shouldn't last much past midnight. But because of the electrical storm I'm going to shut the computer down early, even though I haven't finished reading the Internets yet.

The weekend is still expected to be mild and sunny. I'll have to spread out a pile of leaves I've got on the back lawn so they can dry off and go into the wheelie bins for collection on Tuesday. Rain is predicted to return on Wednesday, and continue off and on for at least five days. I don't know if those storms will bring any thunder and lightning, though. They are supposed to be a bit colder than the one we're getting tonight, so maybe not.

Meanwhile, a few miles down the hill, Oroville dam is about to overflow. The spillway developed a big pothole in it earlier this week, and it's getting worse. An emergency spillway kicks in when the lake reaches 901 feet, but it's just a forested mountainside adjacent to the damaged concrete spillway and is likely to suffer considerable erosion itself if water starts flowing down it. The whole thing could get very messy. Messier than it already is. I regret not being able to go see the waterfall, especially since it's only a few miles away.
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Still [Feb. 9th, 2017|10:54 pm]
The feral cat that went missing before dawn Monday returned tonight. I can't tell very well by flashlight, but I think he has some fur missing along one flank. He might have gotten into a fight with a bigger and younger feral tom who has been hinging around lately, and had to hide out somewhere to recuperate. I'll get a better look at him tomorrow. I'm sure he isn't feeling very good, though, as he ate very little before climbing into the cupboard on the back porch to sleep.

The rain ceased this evening, though the wind continued to blow for quite a while. Right now it is still, and a bit foggy. There could be a bit more rain tomorrow, but both Saturday and Sunday are to be clear and mild. That will be a nice change, but the best thing is that the wind is unlikely to blow. The last few days it has been so persistent that I've grown tired of it, and I usually like wind. Too much of a good thing.

Not enough of a good thing is dinner. In fact none at all of it so far. I've gotten distracted by one thing or another every time I've intended to fix something. I'm going to take another stab at it now, but it will probably be just a toasted sandwich of some sort. It's too late for anything more elaborate.
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Bursting [Feb. 8th, 2017|08:35 pm]
A few minutes ago I went out to the back porch to check on the feral cats and was just in time to see an impressive downpour. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say I was just in time to hear and impressive downpour, as the rain can't be seen all that well in the dark. The clouds are right on the ground, fogging the nearby lights, and strong gusts of wind are blowing. The noise of rain and wind was so loud that it completely drowned out the croaking of the frogs. The frogs themselves probably won't drown, though at one point it seemed as though there was more water than air in the atmosphere.

The feral cats won't drown, either— at least the two who were on the back porch won't drown. One is on a chair, and the other is napping on a cushion in the cupboard. The third back yard cat hasn't been around since very early Monday morning. This is the intact male tabby who was not part of my original feral cat colony, but a stray who decided to spend more and more time here over the last year and a half. I think he's pretty old, and not very healthy, so it's possible that he went off somewhere to die, away from people and other cats. If he has, at least he was able to spend his last year or so being amply fed and having a safe place to sleep. I'll miss him, even though he made a pest of himself to Shorty, the black cat. He had a crush on Shorty, and was always rubbing against him, but Shorty just wanted to be left alone. He won't miss the missing cat.

There is to be a penumbral lunar eclipse Friday night but it starts before the moon rises here and will be nearly over by the time it does. Most likely it will still be too cloudy here— still raining, if fact— for me to see it anyway. Penumbral eclipses are not very much to look at, in any case, as the moon just gets dimmer for a while instead of being covered with Earth's darkest shadow. There's also a comet passing by, its path being closest to Earth on Saturday, but it's going to be too dim to see with the naked eye, so that's a bust, too.

But we are supposed to get five days without rain starting this weekend. It's going to get colder at night with the clouds gone, so that would be another reason not to spend a lot of time outside watching the sky. I'ts not very cold out tonight at all. In fact, the nocturnal low here tonight is predicted to be one degree higher than the daytime high was. It's an unusually warm storm for this time of year. I appreciate the fact that it is going to save me a couple of bucks on my power bill next month.
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Oh [Feb. 7th, 2017|11:15 pm]
I'm running late again, and dinner is almost ready (but still late) so off I go to TV Land. Oh, Internets, why do you fill up faster than I can empty you, even when I'm adding almost nothing!
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Argh [Feb. 6th, 2017|10:49 pm]
Slept through the afternoon and evening again, and I don't think I'll be able to catch up with all the stuff I didn't get done (mostly on the Internets) as a result. The wheelie bins will have to be put out, and I'll have to eat something, but that's about all I'll have time for. The rain is coming down again, so I'll surely be getting wet when I take the bins out. But I should check the mailbox anyway, in case something I don't want soggy is in it, so killing two birds with one water balloon. Maybe I'll find more computer time after midnight. Right now, I'm off.
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Dampened [Feb. 5th, 2017|11:38 pm]
In the last hour the wind has grown fierce, and I fear an electrical outage may result. Despite the threat, the wind is quite invigorating, as was the low overcast of tumbling clouds that prevailed this afternoon. I managed to go shopping without getting soaked until leaving the last store, when a downpour drenched me as I was going to the car and putting my bags in it. I got soaked again when taking them from the car into the house, as the garage is stuffed with stuff belonging to a nephew, making it impossible to get the car indoors, and his derelict ruck parked in the driveway lengthens the trip between the car and the covered area. Five hours later my jacket is not yet entirely dry.

Days of this lie ahead, but I won't have to go out in it again this week, unless it is when I must put the wheelie bins out for the trash truck tomorrow. Maybe I'll catch a break and there'll be a break in the rain timed just right. There have been breaks in the rain tonight, but it's too soon to be taking wheelie bins out. Still the odds are not with me. Tomorrow is supposed to be the rainiest of the next five rainy days. I can easily imagine the rain continuing uninterrupted hour after hour from before dawn until the next day. This is not rare here.

But for now I get to stay indoors and listen to the gusts that make the pine trees moan, and the occasional spatter of wind-driven rain on my window. Indeed, I couldn't ask for a better night to be indoors— as long as the power stays on. I might even make myself some cocoa and have a slice of cake with it. Winter brings such luxury!

Sunday VerseCollapse )
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Pitter-patterless Evening [Feb. 4th, 2017|11:40 pm]
It now looks like if I get home by five o'clock tomorrow evening I won't have to get very wet on my shopping trip. It would have been better to have gone today, as it hasn't rained in several hours. Once it starts coming down tomorrow evening, though, it's expected to fall almost continuously through Friday afternoon.

It remains to be seen whether there will be flood warnings in the valley at any point. So far there are none, but the ground here on the piedmont is so saturated already that I can't imagine everything that falls this week not running off into the rivers and streams almost immediately. Locally it's expected to add up to seven or eight inches over the course of the week, and by the end of it Lake Oroville could be brimming. I'd like to go take a look at it full, but probably won't get the chance.

The feral cats probably enjoyed the mostly rainless day, and went off to explore their territory. The birds were active in my yard, though, probably in part because the cats weren't around. I was treated to a few songs from a pair of small, grayish-brown birds, but didn't recognize it. They must have been visitors displaced from their usual range by the odd weather. Of course there were also some acorn woodpeckers, but they didn't hang around for long.

Tonight it's the frog chorus that's filling the air again. The air is a bit warmer tonight, and has grown mostly still, so I've spent a bit more time listening to my amphibian neighbors. Their song is not as relaxing as a cat purring, but it will do in a pinch. There's nothing to look at, though, as the sky is till cloudy. I've totally lost track of what phase the moon is in. I could look it up on the Internet, but I'd rather wait until next week to see for myself. I've had enough Internet for tonight.
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