Extreme weather ends 2021, but rain and snow are welcomed here

  • [photo by Patric Hedlund, The Mountain Enterprise]

    [photo by Patric Hedlund, The Mountain Enterprise]

By Patric Hedlund, Editor, The Mountain Enterprise

Welcome to our annual Year In Pictures issue. It is chock full of images from the notable events of 2021.

And what a year it was!

The year began with an attack on our U.S. Capitol in which our U.S. Representative played a key role. Vaccinations emerged to help us fight back against the pandemic. Economic health began to bounce back. Then, just as we were all ready for life without quarantines and isolation, new covid-19 variants Delta and Omicron extended the pandemic to challenge our courage and spiritual resilience.

We suffered the loss of valued neighbors to the disease. But we also saw dazzling courage and humor in our community’s schools, and in our own children.

We saw young athletes running cross country to condition when they couldn’t play in teams, and when they returned to compete, their inner champions were on display at last!

We were even gifted—though a few days late—with a perfect White Christmas fantasy to end the challenging year of 2021. Ice closed down the Grapevine for 10 hours on December 30 as we all scrambled to remember our snow driving skills [see Winter Driving Tips on page 7]—but sunrise on New Year’s Eve was breathtaking and serene.

Our entire year’s precipitation score more than doubled in just those last two weeks of December in Frazier Park—and precipitation nearly quadrupled in Pine Mountain Club!

December’s drought-quenching rain and snow rocketed the year’s total precipitation from 3.39” to 7.28” in Frazier Park and from 2.44” to 9.32” in PMC—the greatest gift the final days of a dry and grumpy year could bring us to keep this mountain—and our state—safe.

Just as we were admiring the beautiful white flocking on our local pine trees on New Year’s Eve, horrifying 115 mile per hour winds south of Boulder, Colorado, exploded into the kinds of catastrophic fires we’ve seen in California over the past four years, which we’ve been reporting about in our updated “California Burning” series. The speed of those fires gives no time to stop, think, or gather anything other than pets and family members.

On New Year’s Eve whole subdivisions of suburban homes, surrounded not by forests but by grasslands, turned to ash within minutes.

More than 1,000 homes were lost. Massive ember storms flying ahead of the main fires were reported to have ignited new neighborhoods, echoing two prime messages we reported several times to our Mountain Communities in 2021:

1) Pack your “Go Bag” for your car right now so you can leave immediately if evacuation is required;

2) Community home-hardening incentive programs are needed throughout the West.

Our 2021 editorials right here in our Mountain Communities suggested that churches, homeowners associations, the chamber of commerce and other civic groups help sponsor online and in-person workshops to share facts, expertise, sources and buying clubs to help us all get started on home-hardening programs.

That includes writing letters and lobbying elected local, county, state and federal representatives—plus the insurance industry—to assist in creating incentive programs and subsidies to speed upgrades so we can become fire-safe communities.

Wishing you a Healthy and Happy 2022!

This is part of the January 7, 2022 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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