Rainy Problems on Rainy Days

The negative impacts of the recent rainy weather in California


More rain and storms are on their way to specific areas in Southern California, such as San Gabriel Mountains in L.A. County and the Antelope Valley.

Crystal Li, Editor-in-Chief

Following recent California wildfires that have demolished countless structures and killed more than 85 people, survivors and residents close to the fire-scorched regions have to deal with yet another potentially destructive peril. Throughout California, rain expected this week is spurring concern about the catastrophic impacts of excess surface water. 

Flooding and mudslides happen due to the fact that trees and other vegetation were burned away by the wildfires resulting in hydrophobic, or water-repelling, soils. This means the soil absorbs much more limited water than previously, if any, which can lead to increased exterior runoff, thus, creating a greater risk of flash floods and landslides that can threaten both people and their property. Focusing on San Diego, Alyssa Kuang (’23) explained: “The soil in San Diego is dry, so it can’t absorb the amount of water that the rain brings. As a result, rain in San Diego causes a higher chance of flooding.”

Furthermore, one of the biggest problems now is that these wildfires are happening with regularity and a size scale that we have never really encountered before. Even just looking at the extent of these burned areas changes the conditions of the region in terms of its land cover and rainfall-runoff function. If you have a massive fuel capacity and a great fire, then the hydrophobicity can be noticeably higher than in places where the fire just went past with moderately low intensity, therefore, concluding that the risk of mudslides depends on the burning strength of the fire.

Additionally, the rainy weather has a significant impact on the itineraries of a large number of tourists and travelers. On Wednesday, November 27, a brisk storm unleashed heavy rain and powerful winds throughout this state. It sprinkled mountain ranges across California with snow, causing flight delays, road closures, and hostile traffic across the Golden State leading up all the way to the Thanksgiving holiday. The downpours do not always last a long time, but they could be extremely intense. “I was driving home [with my family] from Palm Springs, and we almost couldn’t see the road,” Natasha Mar (’23) exclaimed. Record precipitation for the day was announced in several spots, including Santa Barbara Airport, Santa Maria, and Lancaster, which had 0.43 of an inch. The primary “collection” of the first storm passed on Wednesday, but another storm is moving in on Thursday.

“Yeah, the roads were really dangerous coming back to La Jolla from Chula Vista,” Athena Hernandez (’23) continued, “everyone didn’t know how to drive in this weather.” Undoubtedly, taking cautionary measures regarding the weather in California is more important than ever. Seems like it’s still not the time to put the umbrellas away yet.