Producers across Southern California welcomed the unseasonable rainfall and reported only minor damage from flooding and mudslides.
Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, prompted flood watches and warnings throughout the region.
According to a news report from KOLD, although the storm was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, it created tornado warnings, wildfires and a moderate earthquake in its aftermath.
We have groves in various parts of Southern California, and overall, the impact was minimal. We really did not suffer any significant damage.
The earthquake of 5.1 on the Richter scale hit the town of Ojai, causing only minor damage.
Lot22 Olive Oil Company is one of the few growers and producers in San Bernadino County, about 90 kilometers east of downtown Los Angeles, which saw the most severe aspects of the storm.See Also:State-of-the-Art Irrigation Management Leads to Rising Yields in California
“This year’s potential harvest on the trees was looking significantly better than last year,” Zach Thorp, the co-owner of Lot22, told Olive Oil Times.
“We are happy to report that although many areas around our county saw winds between 40 and 60 miles per hour (65 to 95 kilometers per hour), due to us taking topography into account when we initially planted our trees, we were able to essentially shelter the trees from the high sustained winds and keep all of our crops,” he added.
North of Los Angeles, producers in Bakersfield reported receiving 2 inches (51 millimeters) of rain from the storm but confirmed they had not experienced any adverse impacts, such as flooding or mudslides.
Other producers across Southern California reported minimal damage to their groves, with some welcoming the extra rainfall.
“We have groves in various parts of Southern California, and overall, the impact was minimal,” Thom Curry, the owner of Temecula Olive Oil Company, told Olive Oil Times. “We really did not suffer any significant damage.”
Sunday was the wettest day on record in San Diego. Rainfall on August 20, 2023, was recorded as 1.82 inches (46.2 millimeters), beating the 1977 record of 1.80 inches (45.7 millimeters) after post-hurricane Doreen.
“We basically blew all of our previous rainfall records [in San Diego] out of the water,” National Weather Service meteorologist Elizabeth Adams told The Associated Press.
“As most of the damage was in floodplain areas, we were able to keep everyone safe by getting everyone home before any major elements of the storm hit and by not having trees planted in flood plains,” Thorp added.
In the De Luz hills between San Diego and Los Angeles, Pura Grove owner Tim Bui said his trees had only sustained minor damage from the storm.
“There’s not much damage on our property this year, just some minor loss of fruits and a few broken trees,” he told Olive Oil Times.
The Orange County Register reported that the last tropical storm to strike California occurred in 1939. According to a Los Angeles Times post, tropical storm Hilary left massive flooding, mudslides and upheaval across Southern California.
San Bernadino County officials declared a state of emergency. Several mountain communities suffered road damage, cutting off access in and out of many communities. Visiting San Bernadino County, Governor Gavin Newsom pledged his support for the county’s recovery efforts.
The historic storm left lingering damage that emergency personnel will continue to assess. Emergency personnel utilized volunteers, drones and sheriff’s aviation crews to evaluate the conditions by air and ground.
In addition to emergency evacuations and damage to roads and communities, The Drinks Business magazine reported that vineyard damage is expected in Temecula Valley and Santa Barbara as the storm rages in the region.
According to Curry, the impact on his groves was minimal. “The rain, as always, was welcome. The wind did knock fruit off the trees in some areas, and we had several trees with broken branches due to wind and large crop load.”
Despite the storm, Curry and other olive producers predicted the 2023 olive harvest is on track for success.
“The weather needs to behave. The trees have been doing great,” Thorp said. “If we can just get to harvest without major fires, unseasonal freezing, searing heat, hurricanes or some unheard of obscure insect plague, and if our harvest teams still find it advantageous to stay in our area to hire for harvest, then fingers crossed we will have a great harvest.”