California: from Mega-Drought to “The Big Melt”

Opinion by Kip Hansen – 2 May 2023

California, the state of my birth, childhood and my familiar stomping ground throughout my university years – just a year ago claiming itself engulfed by a millennial-scale mega-drought — is now worried about too much water:

The Mega-Drought Is Over But California Faces a New Threat: Floods

Of course, because the topic is weather – which nearly everyone in California thinks equals Climate which equals Climate Change which equals Climate Crisis which equals Climate Catastrophe   — this weather phenomenon must be a threat.

The latest version of this new threat is “The Big Melt” – cheerfully promoted and megaphoned by – well, nearly every news outlet in California and is echoed in the national press:

NBCNews:  “The big melt is now here”: California braces for floods

USA Today: ‘The Big Melt’: California braces for flooding as heat wave takes aim at state

Yale Climate Connections:  “California’s Big Melt kicks off, likely to cause floods”

Sky News:  “The big melt: Crushed houses, trapped cars and the threat of floods”

And then, of course, the re-birth of Tulare Lake:

New York Times:  “The Resurrection of Tulare Lake”

California Local:  “Destruction or Reclamation? Lake Tulare Reborn”

The plentiful rain that fell in California through the last few months have ended California’s long-term drought for now, but has also left the mountains covered in snow, tens of feet deep.  In many places, twice the normal amount of snow with twice the normal amount of water equivalent.  As that snow melts, the creeks and rivers will flow with far more water than usually seen.   Reservoirs, many already being purposefully held at their desired maximum levels for this time of year, will receive more and more water – that water either has to either be retained in the reservoir, or released downstream to already saturated areas.  The Oroville Reservoir barely escaped a major disaster when water levels were not lowered early and far enough in the spring of 2017.

The “Big Melt” is based on fears of the possibility of a very warm spring which could cause a rapid melt of the snowpack.  This threat is being widely promoted by a Climate Feedback contributor  Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA.  [ A Google Search for “Daniel Swain and Big Melt” returns almost a million results.  More on Swain here. ]

I am from California, born and raised there.  The High Sierras were a huge part of my childhood: camping and hiking, six kids under 16 hiking (my brothers and three cousins and I) from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite south down the valleys on the John Muir trail and then up over Mt. Whitney to Lone Pine. [ Using this route ]   The Yosemite Valley meadows which are covered with campgrounds and tourists in season are still wild and beautiful.  But with the spring come floods and the California press was awash with news that Most of Yosemite Valley will close starting Friday, April 28, at 10 pm, due to a forecast of flooding.”    Flooding in the spring is perfectly normal for Yosemite Valley in the spring. And is fully expected, every single year.

How long has this been happening? 

Since forever.   But one of the best description of this magnificent natural phenomenon was written by John Muir himself – about the flood of December 1871, and was originally published in the June 1875 issue of The Overland Monthly and substantially revised as Chapter XI, “The River Floods,” in The Mountains of California (1894).

The full original story (which is much better than the revised version published in The Mountains of California) can be read here, supplied by the Library of America. [ you can download a .pdf copy here ]

Here are some excerpts, starting on the 18th of December, 1871:

Note:  Hutching’s and Black’s were two hotels operating in the Yosemite Valley in the 1870s. 

The links for the full original piece: read here, supplied by the Library of America. [ or you can download a .pdf copy here ] 

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

Yosemite Valley and the surrounding Sierras are magnificent and utterly priceless.  John Muir was the prime mover in seeing that they were protected as a National Park.     Tuolumne Meadows campground is currently closed through 2024/2025 for re-developmentIt regularly floods and campsites are washed away.  Other Yosemite campgrounds, on the flat alpine meadows on each side of the Merced River, flood nearly every spring.  Since 2007, the Merced at Pohono Bridge has exceeded flood stage more than a dozen times.

John Muir uses the term “the meadows”, but he is not referring to Tuolumne Meadows (circled in green at the right) but the meadows along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley (circled in yellow), downstream from Glacier Point.   

The Yosemite Valley is a natural wonder – if you haven’t seen it, put it on your Bucket List.  When my father was in his last years, I took him for one last look, driving from Los Angeles up through the deserts east of the Sierras and then west through into the Sierra at Tuolumne and then on down and through the loop in the Yosemite Valley.

Quit worrying about the weather and “Thanks for reading.”

# # # # #

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Tom Halla
May 2, 2023 6:09 am

This is normal California weather. 1861/62 and the great floods were quite normal as well, even if it required moving the state capitol.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 2, 2023 10:09 am

> moving the state capitol.


Tom Halla
Reply to  Giving_Cat
May 2, 2023 10:11 am

Yeah, due to flooding, the State capitol moved from Sacramento to San Jose, then Martinez, then back.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 2, 2023 1:26 pm

The capitAL is the city, the CapitOL is the building.

Not sure if that was Giving_Cat’s point.

Technically they must have moved both.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 3, 2023 9:11 am

A way to remember is that most capitol buildings have a dOme.

Bill Powers
May 2, 2023 6:15 am

The leftist elite cannot describe (nor would if they could) what equilibrium they believe they can achieve by preventing the great unwashed masses from using their fossil fuel. No matter the weather it will always be a many headed hobgoblin that was created, because man. No matter the GST it will always be too high/too low for Utopia, because man.

Steve Case
Reply to  Bill Powers
May 2, 2023 8:24 am

The most common definition for GST is “Goods and Service Tax.”

Bill Powers
Reply to  Steve Case
May 3, 2023 8:31 am

The most common misrepresentation of Global Warm…Ahh we really meant Climate Change all along is Global Surface Temperature.

It is misrepresentation due to the manner in which they capture their temperature data. It is a misrepresentation due to the way they compile the data. It is a misrepresentation due to the way they select data to calculate. It is a misrepresentation due to complete disregard for the advancement and sophistication of the equipment used since the 1800’s. It is a misrepresentation due to the locations and relocations of reporting stations.

It is a scary prospect that the whole mythology of man causing Global Warm…ahh we really meant Climate Change all along is a fabrication by an agency of the United Nations (IPCC) established with the stated objective of finding an adverse connection between man and his environment, funded by American Taxpayers with an unlimited budget and a promise of funding in perpetuity with the redacted mission statement to create a valid excuse for the few to control the many and provide cover and purpose for the emerging One World Government to tell you what car to drive, what stove to buy and what temperature they will adjust you thermostat year round…and just about any ol’ control method they can think up.

Complete Authoritarian Control (CAC) brought to you courtesy of Global Surface Temperatures (GST).

Steve Case
Reply to  Bill Powers
May 4, 2023 1:38 am

Thanks for that (-: I’ll omit my usual snarky comments about use of acronyms.

Bigus Macus
May 2, 2023 6:19 am
May 2, 2023 6:46 am

California’s ‘big melt’ has begun and could bring perilous flooding with it

The climate crisis has made models and forecasts that rely on historical data less reliable. 

Noting the role that climate crisis has played in these cycles of crisis

Experts warned that the risks California and the wider American west is facing will only get worse as the climate crisis intensifies.

Apparently, you’re all doomed.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 8:06 am

He gets around!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 8:13 am

Heaven forfend that Climate Scientist ( what a massive clue that description is ) if Swann brings himself to utter the heretical term “weather”….

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 3, 2023 4:12 am

So instead of BUILDING MORE RESERVOIRS which would carry them through the drought periods (you know, the SENSIBLE thing to do), they choose to instead batch about NORMAL, EXPECTED California weather patterns, and blame it on our energy use.

Richard M
Reply to  strativarius
May 2, 2023 8:08 am

Love it. Climate change is causing the failure of climate change predictions. How delusional does a person need to be who believes this nonsense?

Reply to  strativarius
May 2, 2023 9:02 am

Readers of the Guardian can look forward to its anxious discovery in a couple of months that its getting hotter, its the hottest it has been for at least six months, and that this clearly due to disastrous global heating. Temperatures will rise to at least 35C some mid afternoons in July or August, OMG, and the Met Office will be advising everyone to stay indoors, drink iced water and do not exert themselves. At some air base somewhere there will be a record reading, it will be at least 0.1C above the previous UK record. The BBC will speculate that a weather emergency should be declared.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by the Guardian, BBC or Met Office, those Britons who have not gone to the coast to enjoy the warm weather will be flying to the Med, where they can find a hotter sun and higher temperatures than any on offer at home, and iced sangria with it. Some will have rushed to city parks where they will strip to their underwear despite all the warnings.

In short, it will once again be summer, as it mostly is at this time of year. Except for those years in which the Met Office forecasts unprecedented heat and a long dry spell. Then you can be sure it will be gloomy, overcast, wet and decidedly autumnal.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  michel
May 2, 2023 11:58 am

Dayton, Ohio, just set a record low high-temperature for the date. There is an unseasonably late snow storm moving across the Great Lakes, having just dumped 18″ of snow on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is now moving onto New England.

abolition man
May 2, 2023 6:54 am

Great post, Kip!
As a fourth generation Californian it brings back many happy memories of family vacations backpacking in the southern Sierras. Yosemite is beautiful, but it was always so crowded! Perhaps we passed each other on the PCT around Evolution Valley; the switchbacks up were tortuous, but the beauty (and fishing) soon healed the wounds except the larger blisters.
It’s unfortunate that Californians don’t have enough sense to build adequate storage for their occasional flood years. If only someone with intelligence and foresight had designed a system to prevent flooding and provide hydroelectric power! Oh, wait…never mind!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 12:02 pm

I remember the days when the park service would build large fires on the south rim of the valley, and then push the embers over the edge with a bull dozer. I think the last time I saw that was about 1962, before they stopped doing it. It was spectacular.

Reply to  abolition man
May 2, 2023 8:35 am

Evidently, too many people recall the 1928 failure of the St. Francis dam. Mustn’t have another one like that. Well, there was the Oroville scare a while back so therefore we must not impede the natural flow of water to the sea.

Tom Halla
Reply to  barryjo
May 2, 2023 10:15 am

The more recent excuses for bad water management are the Delta Smelt and opposition to dams in general.

May 2, 2023 7:07 am

NB!! Article Suggestion:
In Search of Climate Crisis in Greece Using Hydrological Data: 404 Not Found
Water | Free Full-Text | In Search of Climate Crisis in Greece Using Hydrological Data: 404 Not Found (

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 11:58 am

The “404 NOT FOUND” in the title is a hint at the later conclusion! 🙂

This is a well-written paper done by a Greek team of 8 scientists. Among these several professors and PHDs. I have read about half (22 pages with small print). This is hard science debunking “the climate crisis doctrine”, as the authors call it! 🙂 The report should be taken seriously, since if you can’t find proof of a climate crisis in Greek after looking really really hard, what makes you think you’ll find it elsewhere?

This is a very well-prepared paper, after they have had an OPEN PEER REVIEW PROCESS. This method should be obligatory for all science regarding the climate crisis or climate emergency. Especially since it’s critical to the well-being of humankind globally, and with very long-term consequences for generations to come.

The peer review process is laid open here:

The report is also already published in RESEARCHGATE:

Last edited 1 month ago by daNorse
Gary Pearse
May 2, 2023 8:02 am

Thanks, Kip. That old prose ignites an epic wide screen movie in the mind. Muir didn’t see disaster weather, or, heaven forbid a a “Big Melt”.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 2, 2023 8:15 am

“How The West Was Won”….

May 2, 2023 8:09 am

The LA Times has been pounding their Disaster Drum for 6 weeks…front page daily on first and second sections. I can’t believe they have won this argument. PS Newsom just banned diesel big rigs…

Reply to  Wharfplank
May 2, 2023 10:32 am

It wasn’t Newsom, it was the California Air Resources Board, a group of faceless, nameless political appointees. (Some may have been appointed by Newsom.) I used to state that they were also unacountable, but that pretty well describes the entire Government of California, at the state, county and local levels.

May 2, 2023 8:17 am

Kip Hansen:

The flooding that John Muir described in 1871 was caused by an Atmospheric River, the same event that has recently filled western reservoirs. They always follow periods of drought.

There was a severe world-wide drought at that time, with an estimated 50 million people dying because of famine, etc. (per Wikipedia).

Although the Western drought has ended, there are presently other droughts around the world, and conditions are such that they will continue, bringing about more Atmospheric Rivers. The recent flooding in Florida has been attributed to a stalled rainfall event, but the torrents of rain were typical of an Atmospheric River.

I have an articled “The Cause of Atmospheric Rivers” which explains why they occur and why they are becoming more common.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 6:39 pm

Kip Hansen:

Definitely more than a hypothesis.

It happens when atmospheric SO2 aerosol levels decrease and surface warming increases because of the cleansed air.

Here is another article that points out the effect of decreased SO2 aerosol emissions:

“Net-Zero Catastrophe Beginning?”

The answer appears to be “Yes”. 2023 anomalous temps are trending higher.

Ron Long
May 2, 2023 8:26 am

Amazing, Kip, that in only one year California went full GOLDILOCKS. That’s right, from too hot to too cold. Maybe try Florida, it’s just right (and you are trading Newsome for DeSantis)

Peta of Newark
May 2, 2023 8:41 am

And there’s such a torture of a feedback in there, Lake Tulare

Because the reason that the lake was drained (by some rich Land Baron who still owns most of it) was that it was recognised what lovely fertile cropland and soil there was there.
It being the previous floods over the whole history of the lake that made it that way.
Much the same as how the Nile Delta has remained in fertile and healthy production for 7,000+ years

Soooooo, when the present flood subsides, either voluntarily or forcibly, the ground there will be renewed, refreshed and ultra fertile ##
i.e. It won’t need hardly any additional (artificial) fertiliser to grow huge bounteous crops.

And because the production of said ferztsilir caused Climate Change – we will be saved.
even nicer

But but but, it was Climate Change that caused the flood. According to some.
uh oh…

Short of exploding your own head, how would you reconcile that?

(Some of us will assert that it was the draining of the lake that changed the climate but, it was not drained by someone pulling its plug and digging a few ditches. The draining of Lake Tulare was a much longer and more sustained process)

## I had an epic revelation this morn that linked soil erosion with Global Greening = that one **might** explain the other.
And I really really should have known this for a very long time.

It concerned Copper – something that vast numbers of us are now short of – it manifests as chronic low-level ill health (poor immune and reproductive function) but also bizarrely, as Anaemia.
How it linked was what I remember/know about seeing crops of (especially) Winter Wheat and how it takes on a particular blue/green/metallic sheen when it’s been given genorous amounts of Nitrogen fertiliser.
I always thought that that was simply because of the Nitrogen

Yes and no. It seems that that blue/green colouration comes on is many strongly growing plants and is caused by: Copper deficiency

Now then, it is a very particular shade of green, it is indicative of strong growing plants even though they are in deficiency..
Is that some part of what the Global Greening Sputnik thinks is = Global Greening – the colour change in plants when they are stressed due to Soil Erosion?
Esp that Copper is vital in the business of Chlorophyll
(a bit like us and Haemoglobin)

It gets worse, that darker shade of green has a higher Albedo than the more normal unstressed shade of green.
(Yes = Higher – it appears darker but is actually lighter as seen by El Sol and presumably, by Sputnik)

Hoyt Clagwell
May 2, 2023 8:55 am

California’s state motto should be: “Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud”
There’s simply no possible weather that the state’s leaders and journos won’t complain about.

(btw, when is artificial intelligence going to be applied to spell-check programs?)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
May 2, 2023 12:09 pm

I think it already is being applied. When I make comments on Yahoo articles, if it isn’t censored, it provides predictive suggestions that sometimes includes words that are commonly misspelled.

May 2, 2023 9:02 am

The outrage is that during the recent drought California did not invest massively in new and improved reservoirs for the inevitable return of rain and snow.

They could have mitigated some of the flooding and saved water for the next drought as well as created enhanced hydropower electricity generation (I thought they were trying to Save the Planet from plant food, er, I mean CO2 emissions!)

Reply to  kwinterkorn
May 2, 2023 10:32 am

Yeah but if they built reservoirs and solved problems for millions, wouldn’t that take away from the important work of building high speed rail (that will go nowhere) to solve problems for ones of people??? 🙂 I have been here since 2008… this is truly a deranged state.

Last edited 1 month ago by JViola151
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  JViola151
May 2, 2023 12:14 pm

I lived in California between 1954 and 2003. When I retired in 2009, I decided not to return, and stay in the mid-west. It was deranged even before you arrived.

May 2, 2023 9:09 am

The only problem with California is the people.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 3, 2023 1:45 am

Yes, the fruits and nuts, but also the fact that there are just too many there for the amount of water that is typically available!

The State is beautiful. Mountains, desert, beaches, all so close enough together one can visit all in a single day, if they wish, and I have! I have been to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequia National Park, Death Valley, The Borax mines, the tar pits, Queen Elizibeth and the Spruce Goose,etc,,, I have swam so far out from the beach at Tory Pines that I could just see the tops of the cliffs so I could remain oriented as to the direction to get back. I have driven the length of the state from the border at Tiajuana up to Oregon or back the other way several times. Driven about every mile of I-5, I-10, I-15, etc.

But I have also done 10 hours of solid driving in hellish traffic conditions in a big truck, to make it from Long Beach to the windfarm on I-10. Too damned many people!

More Soylent Green!
May 2, 2023 9:27 am

What is normal snowfall? Don’t you mean average? It seems to me normal is a broad range and this winter’s snowfall is probably within that range or close to the upper bounds.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 10:43 am

It is common usage, but it implies current weather is abnormal and feeds the extreme weather hysteria.

Reply to  More Soylent Green!
May 2, 2023 10:38 am

Excellent. Absent long, long records, no one knows what normal is. But averages can be computed with the data available. One of our Southern California radio-station “meteorologists” used to regularly use the word “normal”, especially if it was going to be hotter than normal. More recently, she has been using “average”, but that may just because we had a cooler winter than we are used to, and things are always colder than average, or hotter than normal.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 2, 2023 12:00 pm

Everything that is not a record is normal…

Bill Pekny
May 2, 2023 9:31 am

Great reading Kip. I didn’t grow up there, like you. But it brings back fond memories of the time during my Army career when we did live in Northern California (Livermore) and our family would make regular trips to Yosemite. Thanks.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 2, 2023 12:24 pm

The last time I visited Yosemite, sometime in the ’70s, I was assigned a campsite just outside the well-lit bathrooms. I got tired of people stumbling over me on their way to the latrine, and threw my ground cloth over my ’65 Corvette to keep out the light, threw the passenger seat-back forward, and put my air mattress and sleeping bag inside. That was the last time I visited the valley floor.

I believe they quit doing the fire falls in the ’70s, before my last visit.

Ric Howard
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 2, 2023 3:30 pm

The Firefalls ended in early 1968. You can find the whole history at (click on the picture on the right labelled “Firefall, Glacier Point”). My older brother saw the Firefall in the summer of 1967. He came home and described the whole ceremony to us siblings. We were all jealous and wanted to see it for ourselves sometime, but, unfortunately, that never happened.

May 2, 2023 10:39 am

Kip –

Yosemite did reopen earlier than anticipated, so “The Big Melt” must not have been as big as was projected.

May 2, 2023 10:43 am

Let’s see the predictions tally for continuous drought in CA, TX, and elsewhere with a special award for worst in class straight edge forecast. I realize worst in class predictions are a tough call in a field with extreme forecast error on a regular basis.

John the Econ
May 2, 2023 10:52 am

A couple of decades ago my family was on a nature walk with a Yosemite park ranger. Yosemite had recently experienced flooding that had taken out many of the CCC cabins built during the depression and other infrastructure. The ranger kept inferring that “global warming” (this was before the rebranding to “climate change”) was responsible for this “environmental damage”. What? Had he never read John Muir or even understood how this valley was created?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 3, 2023 5:34 am

He was probably fed that “narrative” by his superiors. The same ilk that posted signs in Glacier National Park telling everyone that the glaciers would “be gone by 2022 because of ‘climate change’,” which they subsequently removed (after the glaciers didn’t do the promised disappearing act) with no acknowledgement that they were spectacularly wrong.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
May 3, 2023 9:36 am

Park rangers are not necessarily stationed at only one park. Many rangers are rotated through different parks.

He may not have spent enough time at Yosemite to know much about local weather and results.

John the Econ
Reply to  ATheoK
May 8, 2023 3:43 pm

One would assume that a ranger tasked with leading a walk about local geography and geology would have at least a basic understanding of the forces responsible. I guess I expect way too much of our government employees.

May 2, 2023 1:37 pm

Flooding is of course entirely natural and expected every spring time throughout at least the western states, as well as a large swathe of northern great plains and eastern seaboard.

These yuckleheads acting like flooding = climate change apparently don’t understand why all those dams were built, and all those levies were built that serve the purpose of flood control. They are not 100% about storing runoff for irrigation, or protecting minnows and frogs.

May 2, 2023 1:44 pm

Also, a heavier than average – which is still “normal” – snow pack does not mean that twice the water will flow in the spring. Yes, there will be higher flood stages that flow more water, but the snow pack cannot melt all at once. Which is why in heavy snow pack years, the snow pack remains longer into the summer. Depending upon latitude, elevation, and climatic factors, a very heavy snowfall in high mountain ranges can end up staying until the following winters snows begin in the late summer. That of course is what a glacier is – annual snowfall that does not melt but remains and over time gets compressed into solid ice.

May 2, 2023 2:25 pm


Wasn’t the worst flood (based on Merced River flow and damage) in Yosemite the Dec. ’96 / Jan. ’97 event?

The following year after the flood I visited the park (stayed in Curry Village) and evidence of it was still visible. Somewhere I have a photo of a similar sign seen in this article that was near a bridge that had been washed out and was still missing when I visited.

It’s either feast or famine for California and it is going to continue to be that way no matter how much the state tries to control the weather.

May 2, 2023 3:04 pm

Newsom said California is in permanent drought. Must be true.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Shoki
May 3, 2023 5:37 am

Hopefully the next time it floods like it did in the 1800s when the government had to flee Sacramento he can stand on the steps of the Capitol building up to his neck in rising waters to remind us of this “permanent drought.”

Reply to  Shoki
May 3, 2023 9:42 am

When Newsom speaks he invokes the Gore effect.

Steve Schall
May 2, 2023 3:22 pm

I grew up in the Bay Area and have been to Yosemite countless times. Last there in summer 2021 at the height of the drought, even then, one of the most stunning places on Earth. I live 45 minutes away from Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s awesome, but it isn’t Yosemite.

May 2, 2023 5:28 pm

I believe this 100 year old poem out of Australia catches the mood in California:
Said Hanrahan
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.
The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.
“It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
“Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad.”
“It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.
And so around the chorus ran
“It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”
“The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
They’re singin’ out for rain.
“They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
“And all the tanks are dry.”
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.
“There won’t be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
As I came down to Mass.”
“If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak —
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If rain don’t come this week.”
A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.
“We want an inch of rain, we do,”
O’Neil observed at last;
But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
To put the danger past.
“If we don’t get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”
In God’s good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.
And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.
It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.
And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If this rain doesn’t stop.”
And stop it did, in God’s good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.
And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o’er the fence.
And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
Went riding down to Mass.
While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.
“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

Reply to  WB6TOU
May 3, 2023 11:13 pm

Exactly the last few years here in the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands. We’ll all be rooned, by drought or flood. There is no average year here.

Edward Katz
May 2, 2023 6:34 pm

These big rainfall/drought cycles have been happening to varying degrees for centuries not only in California but also globally, but for the alarmists admitting it would be akin to their admitting they’ve got a hidden yearning for child molestation.

May 2, 2023 9:56 pm

Nothing says May 2 like waking up with two inches of heavy, wet snow on my truck in Alturas this morning. The Big Melt may be on hold for a while. 😉

Last edited 1 month ago by PVLFG
May 2, 2023 11:01 pm

Thanks for the nostalgia Kip. I haven’t been in Yosemite in going on 50 years, but I remember the valley as extraordinarily beautiful – and even a poor student and his girl friend could afford a cabin for a night or two in the more or less off season (I remember it snowed overnight – but that just added to the beauty). I also remember an overnight circuit hike to Hetch Hetchy with a sleepless night courtesy of a recalcitrant black bear and other campers beating their pots and pans – but looking at your map, the trail head must have been somewhere outside the valley. Then there was the hanta virus epidemic put down to deer mice infested tourist tents in a valley that looked more an ecotourist nightmare than the Yosemite I remembered, but by then it was only of academic interest to me.

Anyway, I lived in Berkeley for 7 years or so and about half of that was severe drought. The euphoniously named EBMUD* had us on voluntary water restrictions (‘If it’s yellow, it’s mellow and don’t flush) and the citizens cooperated so well that they were forced to raise water rates or go bankrupt. Well, that was their excuse. San Francisco had Hetch Hetchy, so no worries.

California may have once been a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see, but believe it or not, it has a history of drought and flood that have nothing to do with current CO2 levels.

*East Bay Municipal Utility District

Last edited 1 month ago by macromite
Reply to  macromite
May 3, 2023 1:25 pm

As I recall, during the first reign of Gov Jr. the popular version of the phrase was “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s Brown, flush him down.” Somehow enough people died or moved away that he came back for a second reign of terror.

Reply to  John_C
May 3, 2023 11:22 pm

Yes Governor Moonbeam was a turd, but coprophilia seems to be part of the California political system. I’m beginning to wonder if Reagan wasn’t the best of a very bad lot. Actually, just checking a list of the governors after Pat Brown, Reagan was clearly the best of a bad lot and maybe not that bad.

don k
May 3, 2023 1:03 am

Kip: Another nicely done article. Like you, I remember family camping at Yosemite in the mid-20th century. And like Clyde Spencer (above) The last time I visited the valley in the 1970s, it was overrun with people. An awful lot of them. Sort of like Times Square with pine trees. Never went back.

But the reason I came by was that I just read Cliff Mass blog and he predicts that the Big Melt is going to be delayed a week or so by a spell of unusually cold (for California) Spring weather. Mass’s predictions seem well found and he’s usually right. So maybe the media will be able to stretch the BIG MELT cataclysm out for another week or two … or three … or more.

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