It was only a year ago that the North Coast was pummeled by vicious wind and  driving rain.  Santa Rosa had recorded nearly a foot of precipitation for the water year, a half-foot above normal.  As many remember, the atmospheric pineapple connection shut down after that. The remaining calendar year has been one of the driest in recorded history.  Those that watch the states reservoirs were confident with the large amount  of water northern California received.  All at once, the  bucket went belly up and so did those comfortable storage levels.

What will December hold?  Surely the start of (real) winter will give California that seasonal soaking, adding January and February, everything could be hunky dory. And then again, maybe not.

NOVEMBER 30, 2012:

Milton Lopez of Windsor attempted to drive through flood waters on Mark West Station Road at Starr Road in Windsor, Friday Nov. 30, 2012 but stalled out. A good samaritan, in white truck, eventually towed him out (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

DECEMBER 2, 2013:

Dairy farmer Don DeBernardi checks a very low irrigation pond at his property on the Sonoma, Marin county line, Monday Dec. 2, 2013. Last winter the pond was 10 feet over his head. The dry weather is starting to alter the bottom line for farmers as ranchers are relying more on bales of alfalfa hay to feed cattle to compensate for the bone dry fields. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

DECEMBER 1, 2012:

I'm amazed at how fast the (Russian) River came up, " quipped Monte Rio resident Rhys Williams as the muddy water flows under the Monte Rio bridge, Saturday Dec. 1, 2012. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

DECEMBER 3, 2013:

The north end of Lake Mendocino, in Ukiah, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

NOVEMBER 28, 2012:

A Santa Rosa Junior College police officer puts out cones for motorists to avoid flooding in the right turn lane of Pacific Ave. at Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa, Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

DECEMBER 3, 2013:

The Lucerne harbor on Clear Lake, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

NOVEMBER 30, 2012:

A motorist rolls through a flooded intersection at Copeland Creek Apartments, background, Friday Nov. 30, 2012 in Rohnert Park. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

DECEMBER 2, 2013:

Dairy farmer Don DeBernardi spreads rye grass seed at his property on the Sonoma, Marin county line, Monday Dec. 2, 2013. During a normal year, the grass would be several inches deep. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

DECEMBER 2, 2012:

Scott Zirbel of the Sonoma County Bridge Department inspects a mudslide that closed Mark West Springs Road, Sunday Dec. 2, 2012 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

DECEMBER 2, 2013:

Grass should be at the ankles or higher on dairy farmer Don DeBernardi's boots at the Sonoma, Marin county line, Monday Dec. 2, 2013. The lack of precipitation has stunted growth of grass, especially visible on the rolling hills of Sonoma County's dairy ranches. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

DECEMBER 3, 2013:

The shoreline of Clear Lake with Mount Konocti in the background, Tuesday dec. 3, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen this wide swath of shoreline on Clear Lake, not since… becoming a teen during the Bicentennial year.  Living across from the Aurora Marina in Nice, a thriving nightspot and a booming marine business on the north end of the lake, we all watched as tourism turned sour when the lake level dropped.  Those that didn’t take their vessels from the stalls  of the marina could only watch as the entire harbor withered up leaving their boats to sit in squalid chocolate mud.

On Tuesday, the breakwater was just starting to show at the marina. The breakwater protected the harbor from the lakes choppy, sometimes violent afternoon wind waves.  During the weakness of a melancholy moment, those covered docks I fished from and the good times have been swept away with passing years.  All that remains are pilings, thrust from the water like jagged teeth, uneven, unkempt.

The drought of 1976 and ’77 exposed the underpinnings of the tourism based economy in Lake County.  Sunken boats, old tires, beer bottles, fishing lures, cars and an entire muddy ecosystem few have ever seen, became the attraction along with thick moving clouds of gnats.  It is with a sense of awe and wonderdoom, that California and the North Coast could face a real drought in the coming months.

Rain dance anyone?

-Kent Porter