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A UNIQUE CLIMATE
BY W. A. TENNEY
HE ISOTHERMAL maps of California, published by the United States Weather Bureau are scientific curiosities. The red lines, chiefly parallel, running north and south through two-thirds of the length of the State, signify an equal temperature along the belts covered by each line. On the margin at the end of the lines are arranged a succession of numbers from 44 to 72, denoting the mean annual temperature each line represents. The parallel belts of country over which the lines pass are not far apart, yet the maps show a regular gradation of temperature. map of no other country on the face of the globe has such an arrangement of isothermal lines running north and south.
It may be asked on what principles were these strange lines arranged on the maps? In California are more than a hundred United States Signal Stations furnished with instruments which daily give a record of the temperature, the atmospheric pressure, the humidity, the precipitation and the course and velocity of the winds. These instrumental records from a hundred stations, all over the State, are sent to headquarters where they are sorted and classified. It has been found that the places reported at about the same temperature are so situated that a line may be drawn from one point to another to the opposite end of the State. As an example, Poway, near the Mexican line, has an annual mean of 62.6 degrees and Riverside in the adjoining county is 62.3; Redlands, in the next county, is 62.2; Los Angeles, 62.6; Fresno, 62.5; Newman, Stanislaus County, 62.1; Antioch, at the mouth of the San Joaquin, 62.6; Rio Vista, near the mouth of the Sacramento, about the same; and all the way up the Sacramento on both sides are points differing but a degree or two till Redding is reached in Shasta County at
61.3. Here is a belt 600 miles long north and south where there are spots at least, all the way, at which the thermometers do not differ more than a degree or two. It has been found by experiment that oranges, olives olives and and other semi-tropical fruits, where the soil is suitable, can be grown in the northern counties of Butte, Tehama and Shasta equally as well as they can in Los Angeles, Seaside and San Diego Counties. Facts confirm the accuracy of the isothermal lines of the Weather Bureau.
At this point attention is called to the situation of California, and its general topography. Whoever will look at a map may see the peculiar location and construction. In form it is an irregular parallelogram extending from 321⁄2 degrees of latitude to 42 degrees north, and on an average it is 200 miles wide, inclosing an area of 153,650 square miles. It surpasses in size all of New England, with New York, New Jersey and Ohio added. It lies diagonally with the points of the compass. On the north it is bounded by the Siskiyou mountains, on the east by the high Sierra range, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Near the ocean, at irregular distances, is the Coast Range. Between these ranges is a great inland valley 450 miles long and 50 miles or more in width, between the high foothills. This inland empire is nearly in the form of an ellipse reaching over five degrees of latitude. The area is about equal to that of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware combined. The Sacramento River drains the north and the San Joaquin gathers the water from near the south end, and the two rivers meet at the head of Suisun Bay, pouring the accumulated waters into the ocean through the Golden Gate; and this forms the only open pass, through the Coast Range between the ocean and the great valley. The extreme
southern end of the valley discharges its waters into Tulare Lake, which has no visible outlet. In the Sierra range not far from the south end of the valley is Mt. Whitney, 14,898 feet high, with perpetual snow and ice on its summit.
Only a few miles from the base of Mt. Whitney is Death Valley, with its lowest plain 480 feet below sea level, surrounded by tropical deserts, hot as Sahara. Nowhere else within an equal space can one pass from so high an altitude to so low a depth from sea level; or from a summit of perpetual congealation to a plain where the thermometer registers 124 degrees in the shade, or to 140 in the sun. Here nature's forces have done their best in shooting up and shaking down the material elements. Such extremes of gradation in height, depth and temperature are nowhere else so near neighbors. How much influence this peculiar situation may have on the climate of the State at large north and south has not been scientifically settled. The deserts below sea level from Death Valley to Salton must radiate their heat afar athwart the elevated table lands.
One other point, it is claimed, wields a potent influence over the general climate of the State. The coast line from Alaska has a southerly trend, so there is little apparent break to the Arctic breezes. About one-third of the way from Mexico to Oregon, at Point Conception, the coast turns abruptly to the east, and so continues for eighty miles. Near this point, also, the Coast Range is broken off; and parallel with the new coast line is the Santa Ynez range connecting with the Tehachapi range, and extending to the Sierras. This high cross wall of rock, commencing rock, commencing where the coast line changes, it is presumed, arrests the boreal gales and the heat of the great inland valley, and forms the climatic division between Northern and Southern California. Again the removal of the regular Coast Range opens a vast plain or mesa from the ocean to the extension of the Sierras. This tract to the foothills in places, at least, 50 miles wide, is open to the placid waters, bringing the warm Japanese current and sheltered from bleak fogs, seems to insure a climate of ideal mildness. The real estate dealers, the transportation agents and
the hotel proprietors spread broadcast their circulars, assuring the public that the great plain from Santa Barbara to San Diego has a climate unequaled for its "soft and balmy qualities." But after all, can it be proved that the climate south of Point Conception and the Tehachapi is superior to what can be found north? Unfortunately no scientific struments have been invented to measure the "soft and balmy qualities." The United States Weather Bureau furnishes no such instruments at their signal stations. The bureau does not accept nerVous sensibilities as an accurate measure of any department of the weather.
Let a native of the Congo country go to Modoc county, where the mercury falls to 28 below zero, and he would conclude from his feelings that he was at the point where mercury freezes. Or let a native from Point Barrow go to Death Valley, where it is claimed eggs cook in the sand from heat of the sun, and he would conclude from his feelings that the thermometer should stand at near 212, the point where water boils. Sensations and thermometers do not agree in temperature.
Near the southeast corner of California is a desert region where the Weather Bureau reports the mean annual temperature from 68 to 72 degrees, and the highest as from 116 to 124 degrees. In the northern part of the State there is no such inferno. Aside from this exceptional locality and the high mountain crests the climate north and south is surprisingly uniform. To show that latitude cuts little or no figure in the climate, attention is called to two circles of isothermal lines on the map. One is in San Diego County near the Mexican border, and at its center is Poway, the other circle is in the northern end of Humboldt County, a few miles from Oregon; in the center is Orleans. The two points are relatively in the same latitude as Charleston, South Carolina, and New York. Poway has a mean annual temperature of 62.6; highest 107, lowest 26. Orleans registers 62.4; highest 109, lowest 29. The northern is three degrees warmer in winter and two degrees in summer than the southern. They are about equally distant from the coast. The elevation of Poway is 460 feet. Of Orleans 520. Only 60 feet difference.
Take two other points; El Cajon in San Diego County is about as far from Mexico as Shasta in Siskiyou is from Oregon. El Cajon registers mean annual 63.4; highest 107, lowest 29. Shasta 63.9; highest 108, lowest 24. El Cajon is near the coast at an elevation of 484 feet. Shasta is at the extreme north end of the great inland valley east of the Sacramento river and at an elevation of 1049 feet.
Altitude decides little until the alpine heights or infernal depths are reached. As an example, Rocklin and Auburn are 18 miles apart. The elevation of Rocklin is 249 feet, of Auburn 1360 feet. register of Rocklin is mean 60.6; highest 100, lowest 24. Auburn 60; highest 108, lowest 27. Between the two points by rail is Newcastle, five miles from Auburn, and 970 feet elevation. Here is a citrus belt unsurpassed in the State. The oranges at Newcastle are ready for market a month earlier than at Los Angeles and Seaside, and of the richest quality. This belt is north of the center of the State, and in the foothills east of the Sacramento.
The climate of California is a phenomenal mystery. It cannot be estimated or traced by the rules which prevail in other parts of the world.
I once crossed the Sierras in April, before the middle. We left the snow-sheds just as the rising sun began to glitter on the surrounding peaks. The snow, beginning to melt, was nearly ten feet deep on a level. The road winds back and forth in curves and loops down the mountain side from an altitude of nearly 6,000 feet. Some miles before the train stopped at 7:30 for the crew and passengers to get breakfast, we were passing fruit orchards in full blossom. Before nine o'clock we were in one of the richest orange belts in the State. At ten o'clock we were rushing through hay fields where the farmers were mowing, raking and stacking hay. At eleven o'clock we were in Sacramento. Thus in less than five hours, passing over a circuitous road of 92 miles, we passed from snow and ice ten feet deep to harvest fields in April. In what other part of the world can so great a variety of climate be found in so short a space and time or distance?
We are not dependent upon scientific.
instruments alone to determine the qualities of California climate. The cultivated productions corroborate the records of the Weather Bureau. Some plants and trees will endure almost an unlimited range of climate. Wheat, rye, oaks and pines thrive from the tropics to the Arctic. It is not so with pineapples, bananas, dates and olives. Citrus fruits, oranges, lemons, date-palms, cannot endure a temperature much below 24 degrees without injury to fruit and trees. jury to fruit and trees. There must be a mean of not less than 60 degrees. With these restrictions, citrus orchards are thriving in most of the counties of the State.
The first immigrant settlers in California were Franciscan Missionaries from Spain. They began operations at San Diego, and gradually increased their stations where they found the largest Indian settlements. Finding the climate so much. like that in their native land, they introduced the citrus fruits. Step by step they planted stations a day's journey apart till they reached San Rafael and Sonoma, near San Francisco. At the most of these stations they started citrus fruits and palms. Even in Sonoma it is found oranges do nearly as well as south of the Tehachapi. Trees there only a few years old are three feet in circumference. At the time of the secularization of missions. about 1837, the stations were abandoned, and the orchards, with other improvements, went to ruin. A few years later, when California became United States territory, and the mines were discovered, a class of immigrants took possession who had no experience nor interest in semitropical fruits. The early American settlers confined their attentions to what seemed to pay best, grazing, grain and deciduous fruits. It was 1860 before any particular attention was given to oranges and lemons. The old orchards were still in existence about Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and other abandoned missions. In 1855 some one at Sacramento planted the seeds from an Acapulco orange. Two years later, one of the little trees was transplanted at Bidwell's Bar, Butte County. It is now a large and thriving tree. This was the first experiment with oranges in the great inland valley and in the northern part of the State. The ex
periment with one tree has resulted in making Butte County one of the richest orange centers in the State. In 1862 there were in all California 25,000 orange trees; the latest reports show now more than 5,000,000 trees. North of a line passing due east from San Francisco, citrus orchards are increasing almost as fast as south of the Tehachapi. The vast grazing and grain fields are being divided into orange orchards because they pay better (from $800 to $1,000 an acre) for fruit. The climate is eminently fitting.
In the Capitol Park, containing about thirty acres, around the State House at Sacramento, may be seen 350 different varieties of trees, natives of every country upon the face of the globe-all growing together and flourishing as if they were at home. This is the finest capitol park in the United States, and is the wonder of all visitors who are acquainted with the many varieties of trees that are to be found from the tropics to the poles.State Agricultural Society.
What spot can be found outside of California where the denizens from the tropics and the Arctic can stand side by side without finding it too hot or too cold for the life of those from the extremes? Here is a marvel of climatic perfection.
Do not be deceived. The climate is not the same all over California. It is alike only in spots or belts, not affected as in the world at large by latitude and altitude. In other spots close by it is quite different. Points eight degrees of latitude apart, far as Charleston, South Carolina and New York, do not differ two degrees in temperature. Other spots a mile. apart differ materially. An example:
One winter I spent at Ventura, east of Point Conception. The city is on the seaside. From the beach to the steep mountain side is eight city blocks-about a quarter of a mile. I found that on a few mornings on the level plat toward the beach there was a light frost, but above the upper street it was always frostless. No plants were touched.
This warm belt was not more than a hundred feet above the tide level, but it was sheltered by high mountain spurs, and open to the warm ocean current. Less than a mile from this warm spot ice was formed a quarter of an inch thick. The
cold place was close to the shady side of a bluff, at the mouth of a deep canyon through which cold blasts from the north swept down from the high mountain peaks. The situation made the difference in the temperature. About five blocks from the sea and not far from the mouth of the canyon are two venerable date-palm trees, planted by the Mission Fathers about 1788, one hundred and twenty years ago. They have never produced fruit. Sea fogs and the cold draughts from the mountains are not congenial to the children of the desert. At Winters, an hour's ride from Sacramento, is a palm tree which is annually loaded with fruit. One year it produced 700 pounds of dates, a single branch weighing 40 pounds. Winters is considerably north of the center of the State, and in the great inland empire, while Ventura is south of Point Conception and close to Los Angeles County.
The successful cultivation of the fruit, as well as the records of the Weather Bureau, prove that latitude and elevation alone wield only a minimum influence on California climate. The weather is determined chiefly by situation. The broad and sunny plains and land-locked valley points, sheltered by mountain spurs or exposed by canyons, relative distance from sea fogs and snow peaks; these are the conditions which regulate the unique climate of California. On no other ground can we account for the strange exceptions to general rules. Poway and Orleans are about equally distant from the ocean, differ only 60 feet in altitude, but are separated by nine degrees of latitude. The mean temperature is the same, and the northern point is three degrees the warmer in winter. Poway and Orleans are alike in the citrus zone. Porterville and Shasta have about the same mean temperature; Shasta is five degrees colder at the lowest. The altitude of Porterville is 464 feet, and of Shasta 1049 feet; the two places are situated in the opposite end of the interior valley, five degrees of latitude apart; each is in the citrus zone. Their latitude corresponds to the south line of Virginia and Connecticut.
Some repetition has been introduced to show the correspondence of the Weather Bureau with the facts gathered from fruit
culture, and also to gather the results of details into the closest compass. It is important to add that between the given points of about the same temperaure at nearly the extremes of latitude are places near the coast and also inland where there is every grade of climate from a mean of 44 degrees to a mean of 72 degrees, and the lowest, 54 degrees to 16 degrees below zero. Environment chiefly, if not exclusively, caused the diversity. With the rarest exceptions; whatever the temperature, the isothermal lines run north and south instead of parallel with the degrees of latitude.
THE ROLLING STONE
BY JOHN A. HENSHALL
Here's honor to the rolling stone,
While life holds out, while blood runs red,
No twining parasite is he,
While life holds out, while blood runs red,
No mossbound anchorites are they,