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February 23
1998 - Worst day of record-setting 1997-98 El Nino storm season [story]
El Nino


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Dec 22, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

I’m really happy we don’t have long-range warning systems for earthquakes yet.

I’ve been waiting nearly two hours for a thunderstorm with POSSIBLE tornadoes, and now the storm is upon me. Of course I’m in a large RV, which is much like being in CTAD, or Certified Tornado Attraction Device – often called a “mobile home.”

Imagine flashes of lightning striking nearby and thunder so loud that it shakes my little home. Then come the winds. Not a tornado, but sudden strong gusts of straight-line winds that rock the RV.

I don’t like this stuff. Not at all. But at least it isn’t snowing.

Thunderstorms out West can be beautiful to watch. You can watch them from miles away and often see only the lightning.

There were great streaks of light that jumped from cloud to ground or to another cloud. One of my favorite Castaic memories is that of watching lightning arc toward the ridge top south of Parker Road. It was raining there on the ridge top, too. Over on Church Street we remained dry and hot.

Think of the panic that would ensue if earthquake prediction were possible a couple of days prior to the event. Panic in the streets. It would look a lot like evacuations in areas prone to hurricanes, with jammed freeways and streets.

Morning gridlock on Soledad Canyon Road - in 1988. Photo by the late Gary Thornhill. Click to enlarge.

Morning gridlock on Soledad Canyon Road – in 1988. Photo by the late Gary Thornhill. Click to enlarge.

Thinking of a jammed street, has anyone taken the Golden Valley/Newhall Ranch connection between the 14 and the 5? If it gets any more stop lights, you might as well just drive on Soledad Canyon Road.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were another way to get to Newhall from the east side via Placerita Canyon, like it used to be back in the olden days? Yes, those days before lawyers and litigation trumped common sense. I liked that road a lot. I liked it so much, I got to see the infamous Judge McDougall for “failing to yield right-of-way” (running a stop sign) when turning onto Sierra Highway (then known as State Highway 6).

I got to see him twice for that same stop sign, and with the same CHP officer. Cost me $35 for each infraction. Maybe I don’t need that road back, after all.

MacDougall is the guy who handed me my diploma when I graduated from Hart High. He didn’t mention anything about my flaunting of the law when he shook my hand. Guess he was happy that for once, our meeting wasn’t in a courtroom.

Have you noticed that our transportation systems – our streets and highways and even our trains – are good at getting us in the north and south directions but are somewhat inadequate in taking us east-west? Even on a statewide level, they’re concentrated on getting us north and south quickly. Still takes the same amount of time to get to the beach as it did in 1968.

What is with those folks who keep thinking we really want a NORTH-SOUTH high-speed rail system? Those folks in the north don’t really like us anyway, and why would a self-respecting citizen of Southern California want to get up north so fast? Let’s face it: If those trains can’t bring us more water, we don’t really want them.

Of course, they might be helping to lower land and housing prices in the Sand Canyon area.

What we need are better ways to get from Canyon Country to Newhall. And maybe a better-timed stoplight system on Lyons Avenue. How about a streetcar system on rails? All I know is, I can drive from Newhall to Castaic and back three or four times, in the same amount of time it takes me to make a one-way trip Newhall from Solemint Junction. (That’s Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road, for you come-here-lately folks.)

I don’t need to be warned about quakes, the way we get warnings about thunderstorms here in Kentucky. Of course, Kentucky gets quakes, too. If I were sitting in the stoplight traffic of Lyons Avenue and heard an earthquake warning on the radio, I’d figure I was toast. I might as well sit there and wait for the ground to open up. That would be a distinct possibility, compared to the chance of getting green lights all the way between Railroad and the I-5.

I don’t want to “fail to yield right-of-way” and run those lights. The last time I did that, it cost $490. I even have a picture of me doing it. Nice closeup of my face, too. Can’t deny it was me. Even I know I’ve a great face … for radio.

All of that anxious waiting and wondering is over now. The storm has passed. I still have normal electrical power, and I can’t hear the rain so much. Guess I can pack this up and head to bed.

I do have “weather alerts” for my iPhone. I hate that sound. It can wake me out of a deep sleep. If that happens, just what can I do? Panic in my PJ’s? I guess that is another story for another time.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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