Monday, July 14, 2008

eagerly awaiting a hurricane or something

well not really - but here's a summary of what's been going on:

1950 something: a dam was built across the kern river in order to eliminate the seasonal flooding that the villagers (Bakersfieldians) were complaining about. This resulted in Lake Isabella. The dam, by the way, was built across a fault: the Kern Canyon Fault. One might think this is silly, but it's an unlucky geological phenomenon really. Faults make good pathways for water. Rivers are water. Dams block water for various reasons. Dams are useless if built in places where there is no water (unless they are decorative).

Last 2 years: concerns were building over a leak that had developed in the dam, and water levels were lowered significantly in the lake. There was sudden concern over the possibility that the Kern Canyon Fault might move in an earthquake and render the dam somewhat rubble-y.

This spring: string of earthquakes from M3.0 to M4.4 occur along Kern Canyon Fault, more concerns arise about the potential for dam failure and flooding.

Two weeks ago: among the many many blazes occurring in California, one was the Piute fire in the Lake Isabella area. Thanks to intense winds blowing in the worst possible direction, fire fighters struggled to keep it from spreading and evacuations were recommended.

Yesterday: it finally rained, and poor Lake Isabella suffered massive flash flooding. While crappy news for the inhabitants, whose roads had been replaced by silty tree-filled rivers (more evacuations were recommended), the storm did actually help the fire fighters out.

Directly quoting from the news today:
...The flooding left behind a muddy mess all over central and eastern Kern County. Road crews used tractors to push mud off of Highway 178. Firefighters say the rains helped them slow down some wildfires, but those fires also probably cleared out vegetation that could have stopped the flash flooding.

I, however, went to the coast to plan a field trip. It was easily 30 degrees cooler there than here, and I was blissfully unaware of the flooding going on up the canyon.

Check out these snails with legs! I thought they were crabs for sure, but a sign said they are button snails. I can't find any info on that, have limited snail biology (but thought they were pseudopods not crab-o-pods). There were loads and loads of these, which made the hermit crab hypothesis unlikely... suggestions?

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