Monday, October 18, 2004

It Never Rains in California (they lie)

Rain in LA
accidents quadruple
freeways crawl

The gray skies open
streets flood
maniac people drive


Well, how about that? We actually have some rain- real rain. That's always a pretty big deal here. One day last week I woke to a gray morning that suddenly produced rain coming down in huge, fast falling drops.... for twenty seconds, followed by forty seconds of misty drizzle. That was the extent of the wetness in my part of the Foothills that day. This time, it has been raining off and on since Sunday and is expected to continue through Wednesday as more storms roll through.

As near as I can tell, it will be likely be raining when I leave and hopefully not raining when I drive home. Wednesday, I may not have that kind of luck. I dislike driving in the rain. But, I really hate driving in the rain in the dark. I don't see as well in the dark these days (bad enough to only drive in familiar places and will probably voluntarily stop driving after dark completely in the next four years if it gets worse) and in the rain, my body is hit with a continuous surge of adrenaline as my fight or flight responses engage. Short translation- No matter how I might try to control it, I am literally scared driving under those conditions. When I arrive home and shut off the engine, my body starts shaking and an overwhelming, complete exhaustion sets in.

Of course, here in Los Angeles traffic accidents can quadruple with a little rain, even on a Sunday; streets and freeways flood in all kinds of low lying places along with some unexpected ones; the long periods of dryness allow the oil to build up on the streets, so it is indeed slick for the first day or so during a gentle rain. Expecting the unexpected is the only way to drive during those times. But we seem to have a prevalence of two kinds of drivers- those that drive too fast as if there is no rain at all, and those that drive as if it was sleet and snow falling. Both of those kinds of folks add to the perilous nature of our freeways during rain.

We do need the rain; we are behind in rainfall total and the fire danger has been very high. It is supposed to be a mild El Nino (experimental map here) (news article here) year, so that means we can expect a bit more to come. I can't telecommute to see clients, but I sure wish I could telecommute to my classes.

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