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  In the News - Friday, NOVEMBER 19, 2004

El Nino forecast

means wetter winter

   There’s an old saying in weather forecasting: “Climate is what to expect, and weather is what you get.” So how that translates in figuring what Kaweah Country weather will be like during the current rainy season is really just an educated guess.
Educated because nowadays there are plenty of computer-generated scientific models accessible to anyone with Internet access. The key is trying figure which one most closely approximates the current conditions.
   With little or no rainfall in sight for the next seven to 10 days it might be difficult to believe that we are even in the early stages of an El Nino. “El Nino,” named for the little Christ child because prominent weather events of this type have occurred around Christmas, means significantly wetter winters for California. In Three Rivers, the biggest flood of the modern era occurred on Dec. 23, 1955; the last El Nino season was 1997-98.
   In Kaweah Country, other prominent El Nino seasons with above average snow and rainfall occurred in 1915-16, 1937-38, 1949-50, 1965-66, 1969-70, 1983-84, and 1994-95.
   El Nino episodes occur when warm Pacific Ocean currents move eastward and are associated with four prominent changes in the wintertime atmospheric flow across the eastern North Pacific and North America.
   The first of these is an eastward extension and equator-ward shift of the east Asian jet stream from the International Date Line to the southeastern United States. The second is a more west-to-east flow of the jet stream winds than normal across the U.S.
   The third, and one that our area already has experienced in the current season, is a southward shift of the storm track from the northern part of the U.S. to the southern part. The fourth, and what causes the more violent weather like the recent tornadoes in Tulare County, is the main region of cyclone formation shifts south and eastward and parks right off the California coast.
   The atmospheric shift results in exceptionally stormy weather and increased precipitation across California and the southern U.S., and less stormy conditions across the northern tier of states and Canada. The warmer flow generally means a milder than normal winter across the northern U.S. and western Canada and a reduced flow of northerly winds from Canada into the U.S.
   The latest computer models suggest that the equatorial currents will continue to warm but at more moderate rates, similar to the most recent El Nino of 1997-1998. Those predictions could drastically change between now and Jan. 1, 2005, based on temperature readings in the equatorial Pacific that meteorologists from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are constantly monitoring.
   Typically, the majority of the precipitation occurs in the central Sierra region from January 1 to April 1. The best guess for the current season includes a high probability for above-average precipitation of more than 20 inches of rainfall in the foothills and an exceptional snow pack above 7,000 feet.
   Of course, any precipitation above last season’s paltry total for Three Rivers of 13.93 inches of rainfall is great news. But remember: El Nino spawned storms can be violent and produce flash flooding and rockslides. Be prepared and when it comes to winter weather, expect the unexpected.

Letter from Iraq: Life in the war zone

   On March 19, 2003, American and British forces began a war in Iraq, known by the U.S. government as Operation Iraqi Freedom. This conflict is the first major war of the 21st century.
While considered by many to be another part of the “War on Terror,” the war in Iraq is in many ways separate and unique. In scope of preparation and casualties, the new war in Iraq by far overshadows the earlier invasion of Afghanistan.
   The war continues, as the occupying Coalition troops now face a guerrilla war conducted by those members of the Iraqi Republican Guard, the Saddam Fedayeen, and the Shiite militia that calls itself the Mahdi Army.
   This week, Second Lieutenant Martin Rafter, who grew up in Three Rivers and is currently stationed in Balad, Iraq, vividly describes the country’s people and landscape as well as his job there as an officer in the U.S. Army.
   His story begins on page two in the print edition or on the Opinion/Columns page on this website.

Events signal onset of holiday season

   Beginning this Saturday and continuing well into December, art, music, and nature will combine to infuse Kaweah Country with a serious dose of holiday spirit.
   Holiday Bazaar— This Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building, the Three Rivers Senior League will host its 19th annual arts and crafts sale featuring more than four dozen booths, door prizes awarded throughout the day, hot food, and more.
  Perfect Gift Boutique— On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Three Rivers Arts Center, the Kaweah Artisans will have several artists on hand to help make gift-giving easy and one-of-a-kind.
  Tree-Lighting Ceremony— This seventh annual event will be held in the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church parking lot on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 4:30 p.m. This year’s celebrity guest will be World Series champion Red Sox coach Brad Mills. A free meal (from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m.) will include soups and breads and there will be caroling with guitar accompaniment.
   Lemon Cove Holiday Bazaars— It will be all holiday all day long in Lemon Cove on Saturday, Dec. 4, as Sequoia Union School’s Parent-Teacher Club (9 a.m.) and the local Woman’s Club (11 a.m.) host their annual show-and-sales.
   The Nutcracker Ballet— On Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m., in the McDowall Auditorium at Three Rivers School, local ballet students will perform an excerpt from this holiday classic.
   Nation’s Christmas Tree Ceremony— To receive a dose of a white Christmas, head for the mountains, where on Sunday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m., in Kings Canyon National Parks, a nondenominational service will be held at the General Grant Tree as well as the annual laying of a wreath at the base of the tree by park rangers in honor of the nation’s war dead.
   There is no admission charge for any of the above-mentioned events. For additional details and contact information, see the Kaweah Kalendar page on this website.

Still waiting…

Local election results not final yet

   A Tulare County Elections official said Wednesday that they are still counting votes from the November 2 General Election and hope to post final totals for all precincts by the end of today or tomorrow (November 20). At least two local races are still too close to determine the outcome.
   In the race for Woodlake City Council, challenger Toni Ruiz-Lenz maintained a one-vote lead over Jack Ritchie, incumbent and former mayor. A race for the final seat on the Sequoia Union school board is also awaiting the final precinct count in order to declare a winner.
   Bill Tidwell, Three Rivers Memorial Building trustee, said earlier this week, that proponents of the defeated Measure Z had conducted a telephone survey and located a large number postal patrons who never received sample ballots. The sample ballots are critical, Tidwell said, because they contained some important information about the proposition that may have aided its passage.
   The measure that would have provided approximately $50,000 annually to the district fell short by about five percent of the two-thirds number of votes needed for approval. According to elections officials, all registered voters in the Three Rivers precincts received the proper ballots that contained Measure Z.

Gear up for ski season:
3R Winter Club hosts swap meet

   Do you have skis that are too small or too big? How about winter clothes that just aren’t being used in your household?
Is your closet filled with ski boots, skis, and winter clothing that don’t fit? Do you need winter clothes or ski gear for you and your family?
   If so, here’s your solution...
   On Monday, Nov. 22, beginning at 7 p.m., the Three Rivers Winter Club is hosting a Ski Swap, which will give everyone a chance to clean out their overflowing closets. Come to the Three Rivers Arts Center to buy, give away, and swap any of that stuff that is no longer wanted.
   You could find useful replacements, and your unwanted items may be just what someone else needs. If you have unwanted items or are in need of specific gear but cannot make it to the Ski Swap, call 561-0608 to make alternative arrangements.


Monarchs beat Tigers royally, 40-7

by John Elliott

   Last Friday in Exeter, the Woodlake Tigers (1-9) completed a very difficult season with a loss to the suddenly rushing-oriented Exeter Monarchs (6-4). The crushing defeat at the hands of Woodlake’s neighborhood rival means that Exeter will retain the Valencia Classic trophy for at least one more year.
   The game, like most this season, started with the Tigers giving their opponent plenty of reasons to be concerned. At the end of the first quarter, the Monarchs were up 6-0; at halftime, they only led 14-0.
   In the third quarter, Exeter simply wore down the out-manned Tigers and scored 20 unanswered points. In the fourth quarter, Woodlake finally broke the shutout when Jose Duran dove into the end zone from the one-yard line.
   The Exeter-Woodlake game in 2003, which ended 9-0 also in favor of the Monarchs, underscored the big difference with this season’s Tigers dominated by sophomores.

  “I think we gave up as many or more points in the first two games this year than we did all last season,” Coach Brian Costa said. “We had a hard time this year stopping anybody.”
   Costa said he is already looking forward to next season when he expects some of his sophomores to bulk up physically and utilize the experience of this year. He did say, however, that he regretted that his seniors would not experience a trip to the playoffs.

  “For the Exeter game we were down to 18 players on the varsity squad,” Costa said. “With all the injuries we had this season it was really difficult to compete, especially against the larger schools.”
In Woodlake’s division, under the CIF’s new postseason rules, 11 teams opted to go to the playoffs. The following teams — Orosi (seeded no. 5), Coalinga (6), Immanuel (8), and Lindsay (10) — will represent the East Sequoia League. Dinuba (7) and Exeter (9) move up and will be competing in Division III.
   In the JV game, Woodlake’s 27-20 win over the Monarchs assured Coach Abel Barba’s frosh-soph squad of a winning season. The youngest Tigers finished with an overall record of 5-4-1.

ESL volleyball honorees named

   On Tuesday, in the second round of the Division IV volleyball playoffs, the Exeter Monarchs were eliminated at home by the Garces Rams, 3-1. The loss ended the Monarchs chances of winning a third consecutive sectional championship.
   But another streak remained intact when Tiffany Marinos, a junior outside hitter from Three Rivers who plays for Exeter, was named East Sequoia League (ESL) Most Valuable Player. Marinos’s award marked the fourth consecutive year that the MVP was a Monarch player from Three Rivers.
   Tiffany’s sister, Janelle, who currently plays collegiate volleyball at CSU Stanislaus, was the Yosemite League MVP in 2001 and an ESL MVP in 2002. Samantha Davis of Three Rivers, currently playing at CSU Chico, earned ESL MVP honors in 2003.

Top WHS players
   Kaitlin Beck, a Woodlake High junior from Three Rivers, was named to the ESL’s First Team while her senior teammate Elyse Garza, also from Three Rivers, was named to the All-League Second Team. Brisana Flores, a senior from Woodlake, received an All-League Honorable Mention.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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