I am the God of Hell Fire and I bring you FIRE!

June 25, 2008


By Tony Walther

And now for the third time I feel compelled to write something about that summer thunderstorm over the weekend that didn’t amount to much, not much except for the fact that it seems that all of the local area and the state is lit up in flame.

A pall of smoke and ashes has hung over us here in the Northern Sacramento Valley since Sunday.

The fires so far are primarily in the mountains that nearly surround us (east and west and north).

Air quality is not good. I think the air conditioner helps filter out some of the bad air (although I need to buy a new filter pad). But I had a passing thought (fear), because someone told me that at least one of the fires was near some major electric transmissions lines. A power outage could really spell disaster. No cooling on a hot summer day. Lost food in the fridge (and food is like gold now). And horrors of all horrors, no internet, no computer, no blogging.

There are literally hundreds of fires in the local area. Most or all them were caused by lighting strikes over the weekend. I was sitting here writing my blog as the thunderstorm started, but about the time I concluded writing it, the storm seemed to have finished. Not quite so, it rained and there was lighting and thunder throughout the day, along with a small amount of hail where I live.

So, of course, I wrote a followup, an update, if you will, and used it as an excuse to mention something about the possibility of global warming and society’s reaction to it.

Today, I write another update to let you know that things are still smokey here. Don’t have my paper yet, but last I heard there was a prediction for at least a chance of more thunderstorms and definitely hot weather (in the 100s this weekend). I had also said in my first blog on the subject that we were having unseasonably low temperatures – we seem to be back to seasonably high temps.

I guess the reason we have had such an outbreak of fires is that the normal rainy season (fall, winter, early spring) did not really deliver enough this past year. That would have been a surprise to me back in December when I briefly went back to my trucking job and was slogging through the snow, dragging those heavy iron chains around and struggling to wrap them around my wheels. And when it snows in the mountains around here, it generally rains in the valley.

So far, thank goodness, the fires around here locally don’t seem to have resulted in many casualties or lost homes (and I hope I don’t have to update that with bad news).

The ranks of firefighters here in Northern California are thin, the media reports tell me. So, if you’re in that line of work, you might apply. We could bring in the military (National Guard, regular Army), but then again, I guess they’re all tied up with other projects. And yes, while I did intend sarcasm in that last sentence, I did not mean to offend the troops themselves, for they will do their duty as directed, as they continue to demonstrate.

Don’t need to wait for the paper, just checked the weather on the internet and the forecast for today is 98, but it’s expected to be up to 104 by Friday. They don’t seem to be calling for thunderstorms now, just some clouds, here in the valley. But then again, last weekend’s thunder and lightning and rain and hail episode wasn’t in the forecast either.

And to be clear, thunderstorms around here in the mountains in the summer are not so uncommon, but they are uncommon here in the valley. And they have those dry lighting strikes too up in the mountains and, in fact, that seems to have been the culprit for many of the fires. Lightning to torch them, but no rain , or not enough, to put them out or to have prevented them in the first place.

So, even with all of our technology and all of those computer models and so on, the weather remains hard to accurately predict, and at best, it seems, the forecasters can only go a day or so ahead of time.

There’s not much we can do about it either, except prepare, and prepare for what?

We are at the mercy of God, Mother Nature, the Supreme Being, George W.

Column’s headline courtesy of lyrics by Arthur Brown (1967).