Sez here California’s about to be washed into the Pacific…

…due to a ‘massive El Niño’ forming out in the ocean, tying on its thousand-stitch headband, spinning up its engine and closing its canopy with an evil, predatory smirk…

(ahem) sorry. My mind wandered…

What caught my eye – actually the only part of the article that got my attention at all – was this…

There is growing evidence California could see an even stronger El Niño event this winter than the 1997 one that caused massive flooding across Northern California.

…for various reasons. First, of course, because it’s all about me. Winter of 1997 was when I moved to Socal for what seemed at the time excellent cause, and eventually completed the ruination of my personal and professional life in an environment so insalubrious it’s the only time since my maudlin teenage years I ever considered suicide. And as I recall, it was raining at the time.

It was raining because of something everybody called ‘El Niño,’ which I’d never heard of, but according to the panicked voices on the radio it was all four horsemen rolled into one. And that was my first introduction to something that turned out to be endemic in Southern California: Extremely poor infrastructure design and laughable building standards which, whenever the least little thing happens, result in the thumb of God pressing itself vindictively on the throats of poor innocent Californians.

Example: When I lived in Michigan – where it has been known to rain, and where people in the building trades just sort of assume it might do so from time to time and plan accordingly – I heard tearjerking news stories about houses being wiped out in mudslides. It seemed to happen a lot in California, a sort of localized type of natural disaster you never heard about anywhere else. They were always big houses, too, I saw them coming apart on the news footage and felt terrible for the poor bereft owners…

…Until I actually moved to Socal. Shortly afterward I lost all sympathy for the owners of these idiotic McMansions built on what amounted to piles of mud and loose rocks, which anybody could see were going to slump when it rained and slump a helluva lot harder if you park a few megaton houses on top with not even a nod toward soil stabilization. These houses barely had foundations, and certainly nothing adequate for their ridiculous locations. Of course they slid down the hills. Anybody could see that they were going to; it’s a miracle it doesn’t happen more often.

But I get ahead of myself. As I said, in winter of 1997 I moved to Socal, and yes it was raining. It wasn’t even raining particularly hard most of the time but you’d have thought everyone had awoken to find themselves extras in a disaster flick. And yes there was flooding. There was flooding down the middle of streets nobody had bothered to crown, across parking lots nobody had thought might require a bit of drainage control here or there, against the ‘foundations’ of multi-story office buildings – I’m not making this up, I worked in one – where the landscaping sloped toward the building, with not a storm drain in sight. Everything was designed by idiots.

These are the same people who shrug off earthquakes as completely routine. But give them a little thunderstorm and everybody loses their minds.

So apparently El Niño is in the process of returning to California, and I give them joy of the moisture. But I am not going to be swayed by the inevitable disaster stories.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sez here California’s about to be washed into the Pacific…

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    I wonder how long the water restrictions and other nonsense implemented for the “drought” will continue to plague Californians… as their houses wash down the streets and hillsides.

  2. Kentucky says:

    The irony is incredible.

  3. One of the worse epithets to be uttered in Alaska regarding design or construction is “California architect.”

    Alaskan routinely shrug off earthquakes, but also manage to design around rain, snow, snow load, avoiding ice dams, and even give some serious thought to wind and, oh yeah, cold.

    California architects, on the other hand, like to put flat roofs with no drainage where there’s going to be a heavy snow load, then put in so little insulation it melts and turns into a solid sheet of ice on the roof. Which brings down the roof, if you’re not up there walking on slush and ice, trying to shovel the snow off every time it falls. They also make houses that have sloped roofs, but so little insulation in the walls they lose a degree a day of heat when the wind blows.

    I spent a summer in San Francisco Bay. It taught me that people will get up, look at the sky, and panic. “It’s earthquake weather!” Earthquake weather? Earthquakes don’t have weather. Volcanoes, now, those have weather. As the oil workers taught the rest of Alaska to say, bless their hearts.

  4. roughcoat says:

    One of the major reasons I don’t miss working as a (mining) geologist is pretty much nobody ever listens to what we have to say, especially engineers.

  5. jed says:

    I’m having significant difficulty imagining you in SoCal, but I’m glad you survived the trip.

    Bear, I think they really meant to invoke Poseidon, acting in his rage against plastic shopping bags, but they had to cloak in sciency terminology.

  6. Titan Mk6B says:

    I lived in socal in 1960/61 and houses were sliding down the hills then. Apparently nearly thirty years later they still had not learned.

  7. MamaLiberty says:

    They might learn much more quickly if their insurance and deductibles reflected the true cost of the risk – both for mudslides and fire. The lesson would sink in much better if they had to pay the full costs of the government “service” (should be private services, obviously) resources consumed each time they slide or burn. As long as they can spend other people’s money, why should they care?

    But I suspect that California is most certainly running out of other people’s money, and their tax cattle are escaping in droves. This implosion may be fun to watch…

  8. Zelda says:

    My little home town is not in California anywhere, but retired Californians with lots of money did build large McMansions on bluffs above a river. The houses lasted less than 5 years before they started to slide because the bluffs are clays, sand and rock. The homeowners decided to sue the town because the town engineer did not say the houses couldn’t or shouldn’t be built. “Adequate” foundations and engineering studies were required. The studies showed the houses shouldn’t be built at all because there weren’t any foundations that could be expected to last in the soil conditions, but money talks and people wanted that lovely view. Now someone else is supposed to compensate them for their irrational decisions. Californians really are very special people. You can take ’em out of California, but you can’t take the Caifornia out of them.

  9. Paul Bonneau says:

    You could always tell the Californians around Cody, Wyoming. They were the ones who built on the ridge tops, as if the rest of us have nothing better to do than gaze at their wonderfulness. Then winter comes and blows right through those homes, unlike the rest of us down in the draws. They should have taken a clue from the fact the sagebrush was stunted down to about 5 inches tall up there…

To the stake with the heretic!