Jack Ohman

Soggy Sacramento is feeling a little like Portlandia

A large tree lies on a home at 1216 27th St. on Jan. 19 in Sacramento. The midtown home was heavily damaged by a tree toppled by high winds.
A large tree lies on a home at 1216 27th St. on Jan. 19 in Sacramento. The midtown home was heavily damaged by a tree toppled by high winds. rpench@sacbee.com

Now that we’ve swapped climates with Portlandia, previously drought-stricken Northern California is experiencing something it hasn’t seen in years: rotten weather and the attendant headaches, including endless weather chitchat.

I have lived in freeze-dried Ice Station Minnesota and sloppy-slurpy-slippery Oregon for most of my life. And so I feel for my Sacramento neighbors as they react to wind, torrential rain, downed power lines, broken tree branches, smashed cars, muddy backyards and all the other messiness of this non-golfing weather.

I have become weather-weak and a precipitation baby. Like you. When I lived in Minnesota, I owned a massive ice pick, which was unremarkable there. In Land Park, no one talks about snow blowers.

When Southern California gets smashed by storms, Angelenos stop their Lexuses on the Santa Monica Freeway and all but call the U.S. Coast Guard.

When I moved here from Oregon four years ago, people would post videos of rain on Facebook with dramatic PBS Frontline-voice narration: The birdbath is overflowing and I’m going to have to take my pool pump out. Go get some more buckets so we can store it!

A long rainfall would run about a half-hour or so. But this year, we are feeling what much of the rest of the country has all the time: sustained rotten weather that requires you to consider switching from flip-flops to shoes.

In Oregon, people dress for the weather. REI isn’t a cool place to look at tents there. It’s as necessary as Raley’s. We look at the Gore-Tex ratings, ask if the fabric is truly waterproof or merely, sigh, water-resistant. Proper socks consume an inordinate amount of discussion. Here, not so much, until this year.

I have seen downed tree limbs and palm fronds, lakes in parking lots, orange cones, police cars and cars that have spun off the road. And those are on sunny days.

Last Saturday, there was a knock at my door. My neighbor dropped by to tell me a tree had fallen on my house. Fortunately, it was a light and brushy birch, so there wasn’t any damage. If a tree falls in the woods, my neighbor apparently will hear it, but not me.

You can put boats in partially filled Folsom Lake again, and the docks are officially floating in Shasta. More rain is on the way.

So I have one bit of information for you Californians who aren’t used to this stormy weather. The U.S. Coast Guard has a downloadable app that lets you track incoming storms.

Jack Ohman: 916-321-1911, @JACKOHMAN

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