Thursday, August 7, 2014

mountains to desert: 2014 warmest on record

Below San Bernardino Peak: May 28 2014

The first seven months of 2014 were the warmest on record based on mean average temperatures in locations including Big Bear Lake, Palm Springs and Santa Ana, the National Weather Service announced this week.

The records date back to 1960 for Big Bear, 1917 for Palm Springs and 1916 for Santa Ana, NWS San Diego meteorologist Steve Harrison said in a phone interview Aug. 7.

The January to July period this year was also the second-warmest on record for Riverside, where records have been kept since 1893, Harrison said.

The maximum 7-month mean average temp from January to July 2014 was 49.8 for Big Bear, 77.3 for Palm Springs, 68.4 for Riverside and 68.0 for Santa Ana, according to stats published by the Weather Service. View the full stats table at this link.

Above Forest Falls: May 28 2014

Meanwhile scientists at the U.S. Drought Monitor this week continued clocking how dry 2014 has been so far across California. Intense thunderstorms that unleashed boulder-laden flash floods Sunday in Forest Falls and Mount Baldy did little to ease severe, extreme and exceptional drought conditions statewide, monitor officials said in a report.

"A strange thing happened on the path to California's historic drought: it rained," the Aug. 5 report states. "Although the rain's overall effect on the drought were inconsequential, there were some short-term benefits such as reduced irrigation demands and evaporation rates; lower temperatures in the wake of record-setting heat; and temporary relief for drought-stressed rangeland and pastures.

"Reasons that California's rain did not provide substantial drought relief included: 1) a lack of widespread coverage of the heaviest showers, 2) the fact that heavy showers mostly fell outside California's key watershed areas in the Colorado River basin and the Sierra Nevada, and 3) the fact that the high runoff rate of the heaviest rain did not allow for significant percolation into drought-parched soils," the report states.

View the latest California drought map here, and the Aug. 5 report here.

San Jacinto Mountains and Coachella Valley: June 3 2014

The Aug. 3 flash floods in Forest Falls and Mount Baldy damaged numerous homes and camps, temporarily blocked the only roads in and out of the canyon communities, and prompted county officials to issue an emergency proclamation seeking help to recoup millions of dollars in response and cleanup costs.

Photos by Guy McCarthy

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

mountain flood costs rising

Volunteers and firefighters on Goat Hill Road in Mount Baldy: Aug. 5

Update 9:29 a.m. Valley of the Falls Drive and Prospect Drive in Forest Falls were open to the public Wednesday morning, San Bernardino County officials tweeted. Countywide damage estimates from Sunday's flash floods were approaching $11 million. 

Posted 6:59 a.m. Emergency response costs to boulder-laden flash floods Aug. 3 in Mount Baldy and Forest Falls were estimated at $9.76 million as of Tuesday morning and expected to rise, San Bernardino County's emergency services manager told the Board of Supervisors.

Public assistance and individual assistance in the wake of Sunday's debris flows totaled $5.26 million and $4.5 million respectively, county OES manager Mike Antonucci said Aug. 5 in San Bernardino.

In Mt. Baldy, 12 homes were severely damaged and seven sustained moderate damage, according to county officials.

Forest Home, the ministry that runs several camps in Forest Falls, issued a "Disaster Relief 2014" appeal for donations Tuesday.

"Preliminary estimates for repair are over $750,000," Forest Home's executive director Gary Wingerd said in a statement. "At this time, we are not sure what part insurance will play in these costs, if any.

"We do know from past weather events like this that there could be hundreds of thousands of dollars of repairs that will not be covered by insurance," the statement said. "The work must be done quickly to prevent further damage."

Utility and road work below Slide Creek in Forest Falls: Aug. 5

Many home insurance policies do not cover losses from "moving earth," county Board of Supervisors chair Janice Rutherford told her colleagues Tuesday morning.

An estimated 4.7 inches of rain were recorded Sunday afternoon in Mount Baldy. Records indicate it was the most intense storm to hit the village since historic rains and flooding in 1969, county fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said at the Baldy fire station.

Photos by Guy McCarthy