Delicate flakes drift lazily down, covering the world outside my window in a thin veneer of white. Sunlight against my wall is a dull orange. Every few minutes I hear another siren wail. Closer now. A high school in the neighboring city of Brea has seen its last day. The neighbor knocks on the door: can we spare any clothes? Her friend has lost everything but what's on her back and the two kids in her car. It's on every channel. The reporters are losing their cool and speaking in increasingly frantic tones. They ask each other if there's been anything like this in recent memory and shake their heads in agreement that there has not. A state of emergency has been declared. Humidity is in single digits and bone-dry winds blow from desert to ocean, spreading Nature's fury. Southern California is on fire. That's not snow in the yard on this November day. It's ash. Discuss: Is the news reporting this where you are? Have you ever lived through a large-scale natural disaster?