A strange thing happened in the Sacramento Valley yesterday. I’m not speaking specifically about the light rain that fell several times between sunrise and sunset. While it’s not very common, it’s not unheard of. Actually, it’s happened so many times this summer that it almost seems normal.*
I am referring specifically to the sun. Or more correctly, the lack thereof. Yesterday, August 5th, 2014, the sun never came out in Winters, California. I’ve been here for over 20 years now, and I can’t remember a day in mid-summer when it was cloudy all day.
Not just cloudy. These were dark grey, almost black clouds. Usually if there are clouds here, they still let quite a bit of the sun through so it still gets hot but it’s also humid. Yesterday the thermometer never even hit 80.
In the valley, the sun is fairly oppressive. During the dry season it is with us almost constantly from sunrise to sunset, pounding its powerful energy down on us. It sucks energy from humans while pushing many plants into photosynthetic overdrive.
Yesterday we got a rare reprieve from its intensity. Most days, we start harvesting tomatoes at 6 a.m. On Tuesday, it was too dark to see the fruit on the plants. We had to shuffle folks around to other tasks until 7.
This morning, like yesterday morning, we woke to a light drizzle. But the sun was already poking through the clouds at 7, and this afternoon will be hot and humid until the sun burns the clouds and moisture away. But it was worth it. Just for that one day.
* — Despite it having rained several times in the last two weeks, the total rainfall over the last two weeks is still just a tiny fraction of an inch. This is barely enough to wet the ground, much less provide any useable water for our crops. And nowhere near enough to make any impact in the overall deficit of precipitation during the continuing drought.