Sunday, December 29, 2019

Winter Weather ~ Coachella Valley ~ California

We have spent some time in the Coachella Valley, the home of Palm Springs, CA.  Although this is in the desert, which normally suggests hot weather, there can be a wide difference in the weather and temperatures.

Green grass of Coachella
We think of Palm Springs as blue sky, sunshine, lots of golf courses as well as many RV parks.  With given the choice of being here when we choose, the weather is usually very pleasant and it does mean we do not have to deal with the extreme heat of the summer.

The valley does get wind, which also means there are plenty of windmills in this area and for that reason, wind is very good.  Then on the other side of that coin, the wind can create some very strong sand storms, seen along the horizon of this photo.   We have also witnessed a haboob here, which is “a violent and oppressive wind blowing bringing sand from the desert”.

This quiet road is up in the San Bernadino National Forest where rain may only offer good things and not the threat of flooding.  Rain is also a welcome thing down in the valley for some but to most of the winter visitors, also known as ‘snowbirds’ it definitely may be an inconvenience.  Rain often causes flooding in some areas of the valley, which is then controlled by the ‘wash’, a canal design that controls the flashfloods, but other than interfering with some golf games, the flood does not stay for long.

The grey heron
This lonely heron has stopped on this pond which has overrun its’ edges.  Lucky for him, the fountain isn’t running and allows him to stand on it to get a good look as the pond looks different today.

Rainbows over Coachella
Rain can also offer rewards in the way of beautiful rainbows, like this one we witnessed.  The second rainbow is also there to help frame the view of the valley below.  

San Jacinto Mountains
First comes rain for the valley, then comes snow on those higher elevations.  Palm Springs is at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and would feel the chill but can enjoy the views.  This amount of snow will not last too long but it does encourage some visitors to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the largest rotating tramway in the world, up the mountains so they can enjoy the snow even more near the top of the San Jacinto peak.

San Bernadino Mountains
Sand, sagebrush and creosote bush are all signs of a desert, and deserts can get very cold at times.  These mountains were the real draw during the big California Gold Rush days of 1860.  Development until that time had been very slow but since then, things changed.  By the early 20th century, recreational development began and resorts were built around reservoirs.  The nearby town is Desert Hot Springs, so named due to the natural hot springs which became a popular destination.

Hoodoos and mountains
The San Bernadino Mountains are home to the San Gregonio Mountain, which is the tallest of all in Southern California at 3,502m (11,489 ft).  These mountains are eleven million years old and still growing!  Or more technically speaking, ‘actively rising’ due to the San Andreas Fault, which is nearby.  This range gets a lot more precipitation than the surrounding desert therefore is the source for several local rivers.

Beautiful sunset

Who doesn’t enjoy a lovely sunset and this red sky suggests we can look forward to a great day tomorrow.  The old saying, “red sky at night is a sailor’s delight” can still be heard echoing through the valley.  The tiny white speck near the peak of the mountain on the far right is the Palm Springs tramway destination.  Imagine what that view would be!

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