John & Anne Wiley

2016/07/24

Chilling

We’re having a heat wave, but so far have eluded local wildfires though there’s smoke both East and West of us. Today we again took off headed for a beach day at Oceano, and Campus Point was crowded with people chillin’ and surfing.

9293 UCSB Campus Point

9293 UCSB Campus Point

High over Solvang we could see that people were beating the triple-digit heat in the valley by taking advantage of cool water released from Cachuma Lake.

9345 Solvang Swimmers

9345 Solvang Swimmers

By then we could see that the western smoke plume from the fire near Monterey had shifted on shore at Oceano so we decided to follow the Santa Ynez River toward Lompoc. Along the way we saw a few more people enjoying the river.

9351 Water for a Thirsty Land

9351 Water for a Thirsty Land

This release helps preserve the water table downstream, where many people depend on well water. It also provides a cooling alternative to facing traffic to and from a beach. Before long, among the famous vineyards of Santa Rita Valley we came to the point where the last ponds disappear down into the parched sand.

9364 Last Drop

9364 Last Drop

Turning back toward home we reached the cooler air over Gaviota State Beach where many people from North and East converged to splash and relax.

9389 Cool Gaviota

9389 Cool Gaviota

Water activities were also popular at Refugio State Beach, where few visible traces of the recent pipeline oil spill remain.

9467 Refugio Rehabilitated

9467 Refugio Rehabilitated

Even El Capitan, mostly closed still due to water system damage by the Sherpa Fire, had crowds of day use beach goers.

9497 El Capitan Day Users

9497 El Capitan Day Users

Approaching downtown Santa Barbara we saw small kids wearing themselves out with delight under the watchful eye of parents and lifeguards at the Oak Park wading pool. Beneath the grand trees nearby, colorful parties and picnics huddled in the shade.

9548 Sun, Shade & Wade at Oak Park

9548 Sun, Shade & Wade at Oak Park

The popular playground was deserted, but when the pool closes and afternoon cooling begins some of the small fry will relocate and burn more calories chasing memories.

2016/07/15

Battling Doom

This pic from 6/17 is striking to me. The sky is so overwhelmingly ominous with layers of smoke from the Sherpa Fire! Yet the DC-10 tanker is heading into the mouth of the dragon to drop fire retardant.

7533 Courage Over Fire

7533 Courage Over Fire

El Cap Spared

Going through more pix from our recent flights I came across this view down El Capitan Canyon to the State Park.

8530 El Cap Spared

8530 El Cap Spared

Not only were some of the trees and shrubs in and near the creek saved from the fire, but all of the buildings in the private canyon retreat center and campground and the State Beach Park beyond the freeway. Though the fire did briefly jump the freeway, the private canyon was spared and the only damage to the State park was to the water supply pump station. Once that pump is repaired the State park will reopen with no sign of the fire other than this scorched hillside to detract from the delight of Summer campers.

2016/07/07

Sherpa Northside

Filed under: Flying,Happiness,Has Photos,Nature,Random,SB Region — John @ 23:19

Here are a few more pix of the Sherpa (aka Scherpa, etc.) Fire burn area, along the North side. I’ve sent more and different pix to Edhat, that you can find using the “John On Edhat” link in the right column here. The first pic is looking along the ridge toward the East.

8558 Sherpa NW Corner

8558 Sherpa NW Corner

At the Northwest corner of the burned area is reportedly where the fire started, to the left of the swimming pool at the base of the hill. In this next pic, that area is far in the distance toward the Northwest below the low point in the ridge. You can see that they painted multiple lines of PhosCheck as the fire progressed. Higher up was probably both a secondary defense and extra protection for the ridge where there’s expensive telecomm equipment. They’d also want to prevent the fire cresting the ridge and moving down into the valley beyond.

8529 Along North Edge

8529 Along North Edge

Last is this view from near the Northeast edge, looking toward the South, looking down El Capitan and Las Flores Canyons to the beaches far into the distance.

8530 Down to the Sea

8530 Down to the Sea

2016/06/25

Wind, Dust, Ash and… Smoke?

Filed under: Flying,Has Photos,Nature,Random,SB Region — John @ 03:40

*Update: Probably just ash (see below).

I was worried when we flew over the Sherpa burn area and back to SBA lower along the shoreline today. The wind was quite strong from the North over the ridge, but more from the West down nearer the beach at the East end of the fire. We thought the whiter plumes above the beach fog might possibly be smoke, so we actually texted two pix to Edhat from the air. We wanted to warn people living in that area to watch for smoke just in case. But soon after we landed the wind had abated and we’ve not heard anything about fire flareups. Anyway, here are larger versions of the pix we sent Edhat.

8113 Fog, Dust, Ash, and??

8113 Fog, Dust, Ash, and??

At the bottom is the beach fog rolling in. The big brownish streak above that looks to me like dust. Off to the left looks more like blown ash. But in between the fog and dust are some small white plumes that could be any of the above – or smoke. Here’s a closer look at that area from a different angle.

8116 Fog & What Else?

8116 Fog & What Else?

Toward the left just above the fog is a clearing and on the hillside just above that and in a hollow on this side of the near ridge above those are bluish-white puffs that could be smoke. The fire has still not be listed as “contained” and that may be partly due to scattered smouldering areas that could flare up and/or blow embers. I wonder: has the wind stopped there, and is there smoke in these pix?

*Update:  I finally got time to look at more of the pix from Friday’s flight, and it seems to me the white plumes are just blown ash. First, here’s another look at the whole burn area past the NW corner down to the SE.

7994 Sherpa Burn NW to SE

7994 Sherpa Burn NW to SE

What had us most worried were those bluish-white plumes along the East flank in the distance. They’re a different color from the browner streak of ash and dust trailing up off the top of the pic toward the islands. But another pic, zoomed in to that East flank from lower offshore gives more detail.

8052 Blown White Ash

8052 Blown White Ash

The wind was quite strong, and there’s no sign of flames. There’s lots of white ash in the canyon left over from the thick brush and very hot fire there. It seems clear from this angle, that ash is blowing up the slope and into the air so that it looks very much like smoke from most angles. We also saw a gathering of vehicles in one area, so there almost certainly were many eyes (and possibly infrared cameras) watching the whole burn area carefully. It seems most likely the fire is indeed out, or we would have seen some flames.

What an amazing job the firefighters have done, knocking down this massive fire in such thick dry fuel with epic wind and heat. Thank you!

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