Holidays aren’t only topic on residents’ minds these days

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Concerned about what could happen during upcoming El Niño storms, the Kamashians had this large tree cut down on the waterfront side of their house. Photo by Pat Van Dyke.

Concerned about what could happen during upcoming El Niño storms, the Kamashians had this large tree cut down on the waterfront side of their house. Photo by Pat Van Dyke.

News reports continue to be filled with predictions of a rainy El Niño winter coming up January through March. Many Canyon Lakers are preparing their homes by fixing roofs, cleaning gutters, trimming or removing trees, and checking drainage to make sure their home or landscape isn’t in the path of runoff from a neighboring property or road.

According to POA Planning and Compliance Manager Cheryl Mitchell, homeowners have notified the POA about the removal of some 20 trees in recent weeks.

Joe and Linda Kamashian recently had trees trimmed and a big tree removed from the waterfront side of their house, with Joe pointing out, “We loved the tree and it provided a lot of shade during the peak summer months. But it grew to almost 90 feet tall and was starting to concern us. We have been watching it for many years and saw it slowly leaning more and more towards our neighbors’ yard and breaking concrete in our yard. With El Niño scheduled to hit next month we decided to have it removed for safety sake.”

Another homeowner, Carolyn Knight, has enjoyed the beauty and privacy provided by large pine trees in her front yard on Canyon Lake Dr. South since she and her husband Vick planted them more than 30 years ago. But she recently had them cut back, saying, “It was frightening to see photos of the large trees in our community that toppled in the last big storm here . . . I was afraid that, if El Niño lived up to its promises, my big trees would fall into my house.”

Hardly a winter goes by without pictures of mature trees that have fallen in the community during stormy weather; but some are warning that the four-year drought has put even more strain on trees. An article at ww2.kqed.org/science has the headline, “Drought-Weakened Trees Could Pose Danger This Winter.”

The author quotes Remy Hummer with Arborist Now, who says he’s been working overtime since the beginning of the year, trimming and removing trees or supporting them with cables. “If we’re going to incur any sort of storm, there’s going to be a lot of trees in jeopardy,” he says, “even the ones that are very sound.”

He notes one clue that you may have a drought-stressed tree is a brown crown, because the tree simply can’t send enough water up to the taller branches.

Another consideration is runoff and flooding. Canyon Lake’s streets are designed to send runoff into the lake, and they usually do a good job. But residents can recall years when the rain fell so fast, drains couldn’t carry it away fast enough and roads turned into rivers. If it happened to be trash day, big trash cans were known to float away. One year, a resident was pictured riding a gutter wave on his wakeboard!

Still not a believer that El Niño is on its way? Here are quotes from news sources:

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center – Strong El Niño conditions persist across the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, which is represented by ocean and atmospheric data. The ongoing El Niño event is likely to peak in strength during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16.”

Orange County Register – “El Niño is imminent, and federal disaster response officials are getting ready by planning for flooding, evacuations, electricity disruptions and drinking water shortages.”

Los Angeles Times – “With the looming threat from El Niño’s heavy rains approaching, state and federal officials Wednesday emphasized the public’s role in helping prepare for what could be a record-setting wet winter. ‘This is not a government solution, but a public-private, all-hands-on-deck solution,’ said Bob Fenton, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Southwestern district. ‘It’s important for Californians to take this seriously and understand during these conditions that having a plan and supplies is important.’”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – By most measures, this is one of the top three strongest El Niños since 1950, and there’s still a chance it could record the highest Oceanic Niño Index . . . The main impacts season is December–March, so we’re just at the very beginning of finding out what this El Niño event will bring to the U.S. There’s no doubt that El Niño 2015-2016, which has already shown its power around the world, will have a significant effect on the U.S. winter.”

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Sharon Rice