Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The heat is on

I had something else planned for this post, but I simply have to talk about the proverbial elephant in the room: THE HEAT. We're used to hot summers here in Davis, but this recent heat waves is both early for the season and brutal. Yesterday (Monday, June 19), Sacramento hit 107°F (42°C), a record for that day. Some forecasts call for 110°F (43°C) on Thursday, not far from the hottest temperature ever recorded in Sacramento: 114°F (46°C) on July 17, 1925. We're a few degrees cooler in Davis, but not enough to really matter.

What makes things worse is that the nights are sweltering as well. Typically, we cool off in the evening thanks to the Delta Breeze, a wind coming from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and bringing cooler air from the Pacific Ocean. Lately, though, the Delta Breeze has been a no show.

I gave my potted plants a good watering on Saturday and am keeping my fingers crossed they'll make it through this heat wave without damage. It's too early to tell.

One thing is particularly ironic: Just 10 days ago, on Sunday, June 11, the day I visited the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, we had a rare summer rainstorm that brought us temperatures 20°F below normal and a ½ inch of rain. I took a bunch of photos and want to share them with you today in hopes they'll make you feel cooler, too.

Agave cupreata

Agave bovicornuta

Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'

Agave 'Blue Glow'

Aloe vaombe

Aloe vaombe

Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana'

Cleistocactus straussii

Echinopsis 'Johnson's Hybrid'

LEFT: Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'   RIGHT: Leucadendron 'Safari Sunrise' (aka 'Jester')

Leucadendron argenteum

Gaillardia ×grandiflora 'Goblin'

But let's get back to reality. The weather forecast for Davis is a mixed picture: above 100°F (38°C) until Saturday, then a slow but steady cooling trend will begin.


What is there to make you feel better than looking at the forecast for places that are even worse off? Take Phoenix, AZ, for example, where 40+ flights on regional carriers were canceled on Tuesday because it was too hot for the smaller planes to take off.


Or even better, Death Valley, CA:


I vividly remember driving through Death Valley in July of 1986 in a ridiculously small Renault with no air conditioning. It was 126°F (52°C) that day at the Visitor Center, and signs warned not to touch the rocks because your skin would literally stick to them. I was drinking constantly and never had to go to the bathroom. There's that underrated benefit of high heat!

And of course, frying eggs on the sidewalk--a practice that has become a problem in Death Valley.

18 comments:

  1. Oh my, and to think we're here struggling at just a mere 34C! Keep cool and safe :)

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    1. The worst is getting into a car that has been sitting in the heat. We try not to go outside in the afternoon :-).

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  2. This is what we were suffering from one year ago--furnace-like heat and no cool-off at night from Catalina Eddy, our version of Delta Breeze. The koi got sick, plants toasted. You have my heartfelt sympathies. It is horrible.

    For whatever reason, for this heat wave we've lucked out--not nearly as hot as inland, and it has cooled off every night to the low 60's. Not that we won't get our share of roasting next week, or the week after, sometime this summer.

    Rain! In June! Amazing. It must have been wonderful. Now you must pay for it with terrible heat. :(

    'Blue Glow' is so very, very photogenic.

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    1. When we had that glorious rainstorm 10 days ago (and it *was* glorious!), that's exactly what I thought to myself: We'll have to pay for this sooner or later!

      We all know the weather has been going a bit nuts in recent years. We've got to learn to accept it.

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  3. Your images of moist plants are beautiful! Sorry about your awful heat wave but am glad it will slowly cool. Like the narrator says in the video to which you linked, "Stay safe out there and drink lots of water!"

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    1. I think I'll have an enlargement made of the first photo (Agave cupreata) and hang it above my desk.

      Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day. I might try to fry and egg on the sidewalk right on the front of the house!

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  4. I've been hand watering every other day here, mainly the plants that have been in the ground less than a month. So far so good. It's a problem when we get more than 2 days in a row of 100+ F. I worked the afternoon shift at RBG yesterday, and we had zero visitors, but a surprising number of nursery shoppers. One older couple bought 2 large agaves and a $200 opuntia! It was about a meter tall, and they had to lay it on its side to fit in their car. They were headed home over in Oakland, where it was 30 degrees cooler! It was 99 in Walnut Creek. šŸŒµ

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    1. I was wondering just this morning how many visitors the RBG is getting in this heat wave. Good news about the nursery, though! That more than makes up for a lack of visitors.

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  5. That kind of heat is crazy. There's probably a run on shade cloth at the big box stores. I was so tempted to go to the big CSSA convention this July in Phoenix but opted out because....well, because July in Phoenix. And that was before this big heat wave descended on Phoenix! Hang in there!

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    1. I really wanted to go the CSSA convention but it conflicts with our family vacation.

      The July forecast for Phoenix calls for highs between 102 and 107°F. Those must be averages. Fortunately, the convention is all inside, except for the field trips. I wonder why they didn't hold the convention in, say, October?

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  6. My daughter is stuck with watering detail while I am here on the east coast.I fully expect I will have some crispy critters when I get back home.There is only so much you can do water wise in that kind of weather, especially when it is sustained. Love you lovely water drop shots! I loved that storm !

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    1. I've lost a recently planted Chilean jasmine (Mandevilia laxa) but the succulents are going strong even though some aloes and agaves have started to form a tight ball.

      Have fun at the Garden Blogger's Fling in Virginia!

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  7. That heat is brutal! As Hoover Boo said, it's akin to what we experienced with our 2016 start-of-summer heatwave. Two-thirds of the lemons on my tree dropped overnight and the rest rotted in place - it took most of the following year for the tree to recover. Although our inland valleys are baking now, we've been saved the worst of the impact here near the coast, at least thus far. The marine layer is still rolling in overnight and, even though it burns off earlier than it did in the weeks before, it takes the edge off.

    I hope your break comes as predicted, if not sooner than predicted. Your photographs are absolutely beautiful, although I have to say the one of the Cleistocactus instantly brought to mind a particular scene from the movie, "Alien."

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    1. Your comment about the Cleistocactus strausii made me laugh. I hadn't thought of that, but now I can definitely see what you mean.

      Glad to hear you've been spared the worst of this heat. We've had very little marine influence this past week, but we're also a lot farther away from the water than you are.

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  8. The last two days have been more than 120 degrees in the Coachella Valley. Some of my tender potted succulents (some aloes, some Crassula) have migrated to the air conditioned house. Watered outside at 5:30 am this morning at 90 degrees.
    Love your pictures. šŸ’š

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    1. I feel for you. I've been keeping an eye on the Palm Springs temperatures, and they have been brutal. I bet attendance at the Living Desert is way down this week.

      One more day, and then it'll be better--at least a little bit.

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