December 28, 2004, Nighttime: It’s raining in LA. Those of us who live here and have grown up here know that a large amount of precipitation is not unusual in the beginning of winter. But it’s not merely raining, it’s pouring; windy rain, sideways rain. It’s the kind of rain that makes my shorn-headed, no umbrella-carrying self think about buying another hat.
It’s pouring as if a trillion glasses of water were being spilled onto the Southland. Pouring like the coldest of high-pressure showers. Additionally, there’s the thunder and the lightening; both very unusual phenomena accompanying an LA shower; the type of T and L that frightened your humble (hah!) correspondent very much some forty years ago.
An even more unusual occurrence was observed in the nighttime skies around here: seeing aircraft *depart* LAX. I live right under the LAX approach lanes and have prayed many times for no craft to crash, especially on top of my house. But seeing aircraft leave LAX was rather jarring: like seeing a clock run backward.
However, I love it when it rains in LA. After the storm blows through, the basin is the most beautiful of sights: everything washed away out of the “Valley of Smoke,” at least for a couple of days. Driving north away from my house on the Harbor Freeway (I-110), downtown LA, Mount Wilson, the Hollywood sign and the Observatory appear pure, new and beautiful.
But water is yet another one of those facts of living that has taken on a whole new meaning since the natural disaster in Southern Asia: it’s our friend and our enemy. Just as I have never viewed any overhead aircraft in quite the same way as I did before September 11, 2001, I’ll never view water—especially ocean water--in the same way since December of 2004; especially living on the perimeter of the “Ring of Fire.”
Fear? Yeah, well. It’s hard to fear most things, at least for me. It’s not my Christian faith that suppresses most of my fears (though it keeps the remnants in check), it’s not that I’m so tough. It’s simple utility: what good does fear do? Fear the reasonable things--the situations that you can keep yourself out of--sure. But fear the things you can’t control? Heck, you’d never leave the house.
December 29, 2004, Daytime: Flash floods, traffic accidents, shut-down freeways, weather related fatalities and a couple of missing hikers near the now snow-laden Mount Baldy. Hard going (and Godspeed to those involved). But who would have thought that one would feel that we’re getting off easy in acts-of-God sweepstakes? I guess a little perspective will do that.
UPDATE: Commenter Bigfire says that there was a tornado touch-down close by. Turns out that it was very close.
The tornado struck the Los Angeles suburbs of Inglewood and Ladera Heights around 1:30 a.m., ripping the roof off a house, snapping trees and damaging cars, but causing no injuries. Dan Keaton, an NWS meteorologist, confirmed that it was a twister after examining the damage.