To Solano County
Halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento lies Solano County. The county has a population of approximately 436,000 and is home to the city of Dixon, Suisun City, Vacaville, Vallejo and Fairfield, the county seat, and Travis Air Force Base.
The area retains a rural feel. A voter-passed law funnels most growth into the county’s seven cities. Fairfield has established open space buffers between it and Vacaville to the north and Benicia and Vallejo to the south.
That leaves agriculture as the main land use in rural Solano County. Farmers grow everything from tomatoes to peaches to sunflowers to alfalfa. Ranchers have sheep, cows and other animals.
There are also outlet shopping, dining, nightlife, a theme park and recreation opportunities nearby for residents to explore.
At the time of the Spanish arrival, Solano County was home to the Patwin Indians. Some of their village places have survived phonetically in such modern places as Suisun, Soscol, Ulatis and Putah. In 1835, the Mexican government commissioned Commandante Gen. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo to colonize the lands north of San Francisco Bay as a buffer against the Russians at Fort Ross and to protect settlers from hostile Indian attacks.
The Mexican regime lasted until June 14, 1846, when the California Republic was established. The California Republic and its Bear Flag were short lived. The American flag was raised on July 7, 1846. The area that became Solano County continued as part of the Sonoma territory for three years under the American government. The boundaries of Solano County were set Feb. 18, 1850, by the first elected legislature of the territory of California, making Solano County one of the original 27 counties.
The county derives its name indirectly from that of the Franciscan missionary, Father Francisco Solano, whose name was given in baptism to the chief of one of the Native American tribes of the region. Before receiving the name Solano, the chief was called Sem Yeto, which signifies brave or fierce hand. At the request of Gen. Vallejo, the county was named for Chief Solano, who at one time ruled over most of the land and tribes between the Petaluma Creek and the Sacramento River.
Of the 12 townships that were created in the early days of the county’s history, seven have incorporated into cities: Benicia (1850 and 1851), Vallejo (1868), Suisun City (1868), Dixon (1878), Vacaville (1892), Rio Vista (1893) and Fairfield (1903).
Weather and Climate
Solano County has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. Regions with this form of the Mediterranean climate typically experience hot, sometimes very hot and dry summers and mild, wet winters. Solano County gets 21 inches of rain per year while the U.S. average is 37. It does not snow in the area. The number of days with any measurable precipitation is 56.
On average, there are 263 sunny days per year in Solano County. The July high is around 89 degrees. The January low is 38.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
Be Prepared California is California’s official emergency preparedness campaign managed by the California Department of Public Health. The Emergency Preparedness Office (EPO) coordinates overall planning and preparedness efforts for the California Department of Public Health. EPO plans and executes activities to prepare Californians for public health emergencies, coordinates planning for the Strategic National Stockpile, maintains contact names and numbers for crisis response, oversees statewide public health disaster planning and distributes and oversees funds to local health departments for disaster planning.
The website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for seniors. For more information about local disaster preparedness, visit www.bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov.
The following are considered significant hazards in California.
Earthquakes can occur anywhere in California, which means all Californians live with an earthquake risk. Besides the shaking caused by earthquakes, other things can occur such as landslides, surface fault ruptures and liquefaction, all of which may cause injury or property damage. Contact your local city or county government for information on how to be prepared where you live. More information and ideas on how to secure the contents of your home can be found by visiting www.earthquakecountry.info/daretoprepare.
Flash flooding is a frequent threat. Area terrain can be poorly absorbent, and dry channels, ditches and lake beds fill quickly. This can lead to flash floods.
A flash flood watch is issued when flash flooding is expected to occur within six hours after heavy rains have ended. A flash flood warning is issued for life- and property-threatening flooding that will occur within six hours. During a flash flood watch or warning, stay tuned to local radio or TV stations or National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio for further weather information.
Catastrophic flooding can happen even during a drought. In fact, the risk of flooding increases when California is suffering the effects of severe drought. Heavy rainfalls — especially from El Nino conditions — won’t end the drought, but they will increase the risk for flooding. Compounding the risk are deadly mudslides and debris flows.
If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through floodwaters; even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. Motorists are at risk of flash flooding during storms as they drive to work, drop children off at school, shop or visit neighbors. Most deaths in flash floods occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
Some exposure to sunlight is good, even healthy, but too much can be dangerous. Broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, listed as a known carcinogen by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, can cause blistering sunburns, as well as long-term problems like skin cancer, cataracts and immune suppression. Overexposure also causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
Cloud cover reduces UV levels, but not completely. Depending on the thickness of the cloud cover, you can still burn on a cold and dim day, so be prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, long-sleeved garments, wide-brimmed hats and a parasol.
While more likely at certain times of year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power; bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail; and turn into a twister in seconds. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 Rule: People should seek shelter if the “Flash-to-Bang” delay — length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
Wildfires are now a year-round reality in Solano County with many places in the area being at risk. Many homes and agricultural properties border natural areas, have access challenges and assets that are difficult to protect from an advancing wildfire.
Being ready for wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space and by hardening your home by using fire resistant building materials. Defensible space is the buffer you create by removing dead plants, grass and weeds. This buffer helps to keep the fire away from your home. Hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers finding weak spots in the construction, which can result in your house catching fire. It takes the combination of both defensible space and the hardening of your home to really give your house the best chance of surviving a wildfire.
For more safety information and information about creating a wildfire action plan, visit CalFire’s website at www.readyforwildfire.org/Prepare-For-Wildfire.