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It Never Rains (In Southern California)
A 1990 hit by Tony! Toni! Tone! and the meteorological reality of Los Angeles 99% of the year.
But when it does rain, it dumps. Buckets and buckets.
In the last week, Los Angeles has received an absolute deluge of rainfall, setting off landslides in the mountains, stranding hikers in canyons, and raising flash flood warnings across the city.
Altadena Mountain Rescue closed off Eaton Canyon after a landslide locked in four hikers up the canyon. Several days later, they pulled an injured hiker out of the same canyon by helicopter. Fortunately, everyone made it out safely.
In only the second week of January, LA has already received nearly all the rain due through the end of September.
Eaton Canyon took 5 inches of rain in seven days. Further into the mountains, Big Tujunga caught 6.5 inches, Crystal Lake nearly 8, and Red Box Junction over 10 inches of rainfall.
In one week. That’s a lot of water.
I’ll pause here for you to make a joke about LA’s inability to handle even the slightest drizzle. It’s true, we love to make a big deal about our weather in SoCal. What can I say, when its 85 degrees and sunny 300 days of the year, the offhand rainy day catches us off guard.
But this. This is actual insanity.
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In Northeast Los Angeles, the LA River normally trickles between 25 and 100 cubic feet per second (cfs). When it rains, it swells to two or three thousand cfs — a proper stream.
As I write this, at 8:10pm on January 9th, it’s topping out at 29,864 cfs. Further downstream in North Long Beach, the LA River is flowing at 53,657 cfs.
For comparison, that’s more than the average flow of the Colorado and the Hudson rivers combined.
3X the flow rate of the Kalamath. Here’s a picture of the Kalamath, just in case you’re not grasping the scale here.
When compared to average river discharge flows across the country at 9:21 pm on January 9th, 2023, the LA River was (briefly) the 19th largest river in the United States.
If you’re curious why LA isn’t reclaiming all of that water, I wrote all about it in this brief history of flooding in Los Angeles. Suffice it to say, the LA basin is essentially a bathtub with 4 million houses in the bottom of it, and the people who live in those houses have politely asked that we leave the drain plug open.
After a series of severe floods in the 1930s, city officials decided enough was enough and cemented the LA River in order to get water out as quickly as possible. We haven’t had a major flooding event since, which I’d say is a good thing.
If you’re curious where Los Angeles gets any of its water if we’re sending the LA River straight into the Pacific Ocean, you are a human after my own heart and you’ll probably enjoy reading this brief history of the LA water supply.
What all this rain means for me is that the 2023 Adventure List is off to a slow start. I’m spending most of my time sitting inside in sweatpants. I got a climbing gym membership again to get in shape for some Spring sending, and I managed to hand-draw this map to track #6 — run all the streets in my neighborhood.
I’m calling it the Run Every Street challenge.
This week looks like the weather is clearing up a bit, and there are only two more weeks until the first LA Tourist Race, which means I’ll be spending some quality time in the saddle.
See ya next time, LA