As fears were growing that the Central Coast was in a fifth year of drought, Mother Nature sent a harvest surprise Oct. 14 through 16, delivering the first storm of the 2016-17 rain season.
The rainfall didn’t change the drought outlook much. But, as Cambria resident Cori Zinn posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Oct. 18, “By my estimation, every drop counts. And every plant had a shower, after being covered with ash. #feelininvigorated.”
Rain totals varied considerably by location, according to figures provided early Monday, Oct. 15, by PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey and several weather underground webites.
Lindsey said 2.55 inches of rain had fallen on the Walter Ranch, near the headlands of Santa Rosa Creek, and at Rocky Butte, near the headlands of San Simeon Creek. Both creeks provide water to the Cambria Community Services District and surrounding rural areas.
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Some www.wunderground.com sites on Lodge Hill got about a half-inch of rain during the same period, while a Park Hill gauge in the lower Pembroook Drive area was doused with nearly 1.5 inches.
Sue Robinson said the Wood Drive area had gotten about 1.25 inches of rainfall during the storm, and “I swear I could hear my trees giggling, they were so happy!”
Forecasts at press deadline Tuesday took a sharp turn, with Lindsey predicting more hot, dry days through Friday, even at the beach.
The rainfall may have temporarily dampened the North Coast, according to Cambria fire Chief William Hollingsworth, but people should still be firewise. He advised “mowing early in the morning, and don’t use gas-powered chainsaws or mowers during the hot part of the day. Be prepared, ever vigilant” as the area endures “red flag conditions, with low temperatures, low relative humidity and possible high winds,” which he described as being “a perfect storm” for fire risk.
Lindsey said that by this weekend, marine low clouds with areas of fog and drizzle are expected to develop along the coastal regions, producing lower temperatures and a possibility of more precipitation in the final days of October.
An unpleasant but expected side effect from the season’s first rain was heavy swarms of subterranean termites, ant-sized critters that can show up suddenly en masse in homes and other buildings.
According to www.orkin.com, subterranean termites “live in colonies underground, from which they build tunnels in search of food.”
Paul Williams, Cambria’s technician for Nordella’s Pest Control Service, said rain (especially the season’s first rain) can fill those tunnels with water, and the insects leave in swarms. They can head inside structures, having entered wherever they can find a crack or crevice.
As the termites squiggle around on the floor or walls, they often link together in the weird-looking insect version of a conga line.
Fortunately, such swarms usually are short lived, if intense. Most last for a day or less.
Williams said Monday that the swarm that day included “massive amounts” of the termites. In his vehicle, “I had to turn on my windshield wipers and close my windows, there were so many.”