As one of the prime regions of produce production in North America, the Western United States, and California in particular, are important areas for truck drivers to keep an eye on. Weather circumstances on the California coast can prove to make or break the overall quality and quantity of an annual harvest and dramatically affect the amount of reliable truck shipment opportunities for better or for worse.
With the effects of the California drought that have taken hold over the past few years, a number of significant changes have occurred in regards to the regions produce. Limited precipitation has not only resulted in shorter harvest periods but also a shift of some of the traditional produce seasons to later dates. With all of this in mind, it is logical to assume that an increase in precipitation for the region can only be a positive thing, leading to an increase in annual harvests and a fortuitous seasonal equilibrium. While true in principle, last week California found itself the subject in an unfortunate case study demonstrating how too much rain at once can result in its own set of hazardous conditions.
With the remainder of 2015 as well as the early half of 2016 slated to see the strongest iteration of the El Nino Weather phenomenon in nearly 20 years, California is one of the Continent’s regions most partial to its effects. While the ultimate impact of El Nino varies from season to season, increased precipitation on the Western coast of the US is one common result and certainly something that drought weary California farmers have been eagerly anticipating this year. Unfortunately, earlier this month, a massive downpour exploded over southern California and elicited a whole slew of hazardous results, teaching the Golden State that it’s possible to receive too much of a good thing. Roads were shut down, cars washed away and houses were ruined as landslides contributed to millions of dollars in damage as well as at least one death. El Nino had arrived alright, but not to be greeted by the enthusiastic welcoming committee of previous years.
Beyond the obvious toll on human lives and urban infrastructure, the disastrous California landslides are also a testimony to the delicate balance of precipitation required to maintain optimal harvest conditions. While soil requires a significant amount of moisture in order to elicit produce, an excessive degree of rainfall results in conditions that are too muddy for produce to grow. With too much precipitation, California’s unique typography makes it particularly vulnerable to mud related hazards, and the October weather crisis has served as a quintessential manifestation of early rain season landslides.
During the early rain months of September to March, Californian landslides can occur due to excessive precipitation. Basically, the California hills and mountains are too steep to properly hold and compact soil, so all of the loose dirt and debris blown across the slopes end up rolling downwards and pooling into open creases near the bases. When too much precipitation occurs, these typically dry crease areas turn into muddy flowing channels that wash into the valleys below, creating landslides. The summer brush fires that the region has been subject to due to the drought has made this year’s landslide threat particularly severe, as burnt, dry soil and vegetation provide an excess of debris for the rainfall to absorb and subsequently mudify.
Early season landslides are liable to have a negative impact on the spring and summer produce season, particularly when combined with later season mudslides caused by excess mud pouring into the region’s valleys below. Essentially, an excess amount of mud on the ground can smother the roots of typically lucrative farm space, and create layers of gunky, dead, earth so heavy and deep that produce simply has no way for growing.
Here at Scout Logistics, we maintain a holistic approach to the trucking lifestyle, and stay mindful of the diverse variety of factors that contribute to the industries health. With the effects of this year’s El Nino having only begun to take shape, it remains a top priority for us to keep a close watch on its ongoing development and to keep our readers informed of the potential impact it can have on them. Stay tuned to this blog for further El Nino updates.