We are all weary and exhausted, but we are doing okay.
California’s wildfires are making international news, so I wanted to let you know that we’re safe. Sadly, dozens of friends have been forced to evacuate their homes. Others are packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. We’re all on edge waiting for the second wave of dry lightning storms later today.
Smoke and ash from the fires are creating unhealthy conditions throughout Santa Clara Valley.
If you look at the map below, you’ll see that San Jose is sandwiched between thousands of acres of wildfires burning on both sides of the Valley.
According to the Los Angeles Times, The recent weather events are the result of three distinct meteorological phenomena combining in a way rarely seen in California:
1) The heatwave broiling the West — longer and harsher than is typical for August — was the first to arrive. It is a high-pressure system rotating clockwise over California, Nevada, and Arizona that steered hot, dry desert air over the Golden State, breaking heat records across the Central Valley.
2) Then Tropical Storm Elida off the coast of Mexico began feeding the heatwave moisture, which created instability in the atmosphere. This moisture is why so many of the wildfires burning in California recently have created towering pyrocumulus clouds, said UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain.
3) A thunderstorm some 1,100 miles south of the Bay Area in Sonora, Mexico, sent an invisible rippling wave of uplifting pressure north through the atmosphere, where it mixed with the heat and moisture to produce hundreds of lightning strikes across hundreds of miles of the Bay Area on Saturday and Sunday. That created dozens of fires, while farther inland a tornado formed.
This is what the beautiful skies looked like over my neighborhood the morning after the storm.
Three days later, the skies were an eerie brown, casting a yellow tinge in the garden below.
In January, I thought that recovery from brutal foot surgery would be the hardest part of my year. I took my first painful steps in March, and within a week, Santa Clara County was the first in this country to issue a three-week order to shelter in place. We were afraid to leave the house. A once-mundane trip to the grocery store had us firmly in fear’s grip. Would a trip down the aisle for milk mean exposing ourselves to COVID-19? To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, “April was the longest ten years of my life.”
Things gradually eased, but many of us feared we were opening up too early.
In late May, a long-simmering fury over police brutality, and racial injustice, spurred by the killing of George Flloyd, lead to widespread protests and continued civil unrest.
We hope to vote the current “criminal-in-chief” out of office come November, but even that is fraught with tension and fear.
Today, California burns. Ash falls in my garden, as heavy smoke permeates the air. We’re trying to stay indoors as air quality spikes to unhealthy levels.
We are all weary and exhausted, wishing this nightmare would end.
I am grateful for our relatively good health and for the safety of our home. At the same time, I’m carrying the weight of the world.
I hope you are safe and warm and loved.