Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Showers (Or Massive Storms) Are Immanent

A few passing showers hit the Bay Area this afternoon and evening. Expect a quick ramp up to full fledged storm overnight and into tomorrow. This could be the rain we need to put us over the edge and into a good water year.

While this may a bit of a late warning, expect strong winds on Tuesday. Forecasters are expecting one of the strongest down slope conditions in years to form in the Eastern Sierra. So, as a warning, avoid flying your prop planes to Mammoth Lakes until the storm passes. Of course, if you want to give me a ride out there on Saturday, just say "hey."

Strong winds and copious water on Tuesday, with the heaviest rain Tuesday afternoon. Rain to continue through the week, but becoming less of a deluge by later Wednesday. Another chance for heavy rain again on Friday and into the evening. Rain makers are lined up out in the Pacific through at least this weekend. The jury is still out, but I would not count on sunny weather for Easter.

But this is good news. We need the water. We currently expect a rebound to warmer and sunnier weather by next work week, but, as stated before, this is spring and it is hard to say for sure. The MJO continues to suggest a turbulent next few weeks.

As for snow, this set of storms is not really a powder maker, until about Friday. Tuesday should start out quite warm with freezing levels up to about 10,000 feet. As the day progresses, we should see them lower to 7k (still a little high for Tahoe). Through Wednesday and Thursday, we could see the snow levels begin to drop, providing snow and then powder snow to the mountains. The first part of this storm will resemble something like paste. The good news is we will see some of those late season steep cliffs lines maybe fill in for the weekend. Could be a great weekend for skiing.

And our gardens. Basically, a short prayer should be in order. This storms should not be too harsh. Expect some damage to strawberries and lettuce - but they should both rebound in a week. Get out to your own gardens in any breaks in the rain on Wednesday or Thursday. They may need a TLC after the heavy rain expected later today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Rolls Out With A Roar

Pleasant, cool and sunny weather to continue through next Monday. Well, kind of. We continue to have a very slight chance of showers overnight tonight. Ridging strengthens after this evening and we see a warming trend through the weekend. And then we can expect a good, wet, winter storm to hit us some time early to mid next week.

El Nino has actually seen a bit of strengthening in the past week, and climatological indicators are all in support of a return to a wetter more dynamic pattern. High pressure is building in north of Hawaii, which we have not seen all winter. It is possible that we could see winter storms returning for a period, beginning next week. The first system is expected to move into the Bay Area some time around Monday or Tuesday evening. A second system is expected later in the week, around Friday. This second system may move north of us, but we should still plan for at least some rain.

Cool temperatures continue today and tonight. Warm temperatures over the weekend will drop ahead of the storm. Cooling begins Monday with the high struggling to reach 60F by Wednesday. Exact timing is still difficult to determine, but we can expect a heavy fall of rain and mountain snow. This may bring us enough water and/or snowpack to bring us to average for April 1st. Pray for rain, as we still need some.

Get out there and enjoy this weekend. Warm and sunny weather expected. We had a great period to work on the garden. Temperatures are not expected to get too cold, but if you have any seedlings out there, you may want to give them a protective cover for next week. More to come early next week.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Warm Weather and Sun to Continue, with a Few Ditrubances Aloft

Forecast holds as stated on Monday. Current models trend toward continued stable weather. That means more sun and warmth, with a slight cooling over the weekend and into next week.

Some over riding occurring tonight and Thursday. Chance of thunderstorms over the hills and mountains. No precip is expected at the coast or in the valleys.

As a note, it does look like El Nino is beginning to strengthen again, so we could be looking at a return to an extended winter like pattern by late March and into April. Will need to wait and see.

This is turning out to be a great period to get seedlings established in your garden. Also great weather for yard work and bike rides. We may even see some beach weather this afternoon and Thursday.

Corn cycles have begun in the Tahoe region. Expect firm pack in the mornings on most aspects, with soft snow developing as the sun progresses from east to west. Only the shaded northerly aspects are still holding cold winter snow; and this may be gone before the weekend. The snow pack is still not completely consolidated on E-S-W slopes, as per the Sierra Avalanche Center. Use caution if heading out into the back country. The corn should be getting pretty darn good by this weekend.

Great surf conditions this morning with a new large NW swell and calm winds. Oh so California.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring like this week. Warm and Sunny.

Just in case you live in a cave, it is warm and sunny outside. Very warm and very sunny. It was 48F in South Lake Tahoe at 7:20 this morning. Yes, Spring has arrived.

Weather should stay about the same through the work week and into the weekend. There continues to be some suggestion that by Monday the Westerlies will undercut the high pressure centered to our west, and begin a period of wet and much cooler weather. I'd say, at this point, it is a roll of the dice what will happen next Monday. We should have a better picture by the end of the work week.

The warmest weather should be Thursday and Friday with good chances of coastal temperatures of 70F, as the storm track is way to our north. Seattle and Vancouver can expect rain while we enjoy the sun. A system may ride over the area and to the south east Friday night, bringing wind and slightly cooler temperatures on Saturday. At this point plan for a sunny, warm and beautiful weekend.

For those with gardens, this is great timing to plant seeds. The ground still has lots of moisture and will warm up quickly this week. I may even try to get some corn in the ground. Not so sure how this will work out, but I love the idea of a fresh ear. Watch your winter greens - they will want to bolt this week. Harvest them before they go to seed.

You may even begin playing with the idea of hardening off your tomato (or other) plants that were started indoors. If this warm weather continues for another week, it could be worth transplanting a few into the garden. It would be taking a chance for sure, but that is why I usually start a few extra plants. If it stays warm long enough for that plant to take root, it could mean an early and large harvest.

Regardless, if you plan to garden this season, get 'er started. This is the best time to get out there and get some seeds and seedlings in the ground. Oh - if you want to try them, this is a good time to start a few Brussels Sprouts. At least that is the case with my back yard.

And if you ski or board - and were not in Tahoe this past Saturday... I'm sorry, but you missed it. A foot plus of fresh. Bluebird and 9F in the parking lot. Mmmmm. Good.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last in the series of storms, then dry... for a bit

Last night we got just a bit of rain as the first band of weather passed through the area ahead of tonight's storms. Expect a fairly significant drop of rain and snow starting as early as this afternoon and continuing overnight. We could get over a foot of snow at the Sierra Crest in the Tahoe region. much less as you travel south of Yosemite. Saturday could be a good powder day. I'll be there.

The QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) is about 1"+ in the Bay Area, 1.8" over the Tahoe Crest and over 2" on the north coast and northern Sierra. This is good news for our water year. Water content in the Mammoth Lakes area snow pack is reported near normal for this time of year, but still needs at least a half foot more of water by April 1st to remain so. Unfortunately, this storm is expected to deliver much less than an inch of water precip south of Yosemite.

Barracuda supplies a great link to a map of reservoirs and current levels. Most are looking good, but our second largest in the state, Oroville is just over 50% of average. Yikes. It seems that most of this years rain has fallen either north or south of the drainage that help fill Oroville. Well, as El Nino weakens, more storms should center on this zone.

After Friday night's storm, expect clearing early Saturday morning in the Bay Arae. Snow showers may linger in the Sierra through the day. This one has a cold core, so we could see snow on the Bay Area peaks again on Saturday morning. if that is the case, I suggest you get up early for a hike. It can be spectacularto see our hills capped with snow.

Good news for your gardens and local farms. Heights really rise over the weekend, with lots of sun and much warmer temperatures. This should hold through mid week or longer. Again, things are really hard to predict during the change of the seasons. Currently, models are suggesting a blocking high to form in the north central Pacific in the next few days, effectively shutting down the Alaskan storm corridor. This high will edge into California keeping us high and dry.

Around the 18th, the long wave ridge should shift to the East, allowing for some small storms to slip underneath into California. If this happens, we could see a return to cold and rain around the 21st, and lasting for a few days. Or we could remain warm and dry.

Regardless, the sun and warmth starting this Saturday afternoon should last for about a week. A great period for growth of young plants. Watch your lettuce and brassicas carefully. They will want to bolt. Keep the ground moist, and if you can, the area cool. A little shade barrier can sometimes help. If your lettuce does bolt, harvest it back to the ground. Use a knife to make a cut a few millimeters about the soil surface, and then make two vertical cuts into the stem surface. In a few weeks, you should have some new growth. This will often work with Chard as well. Not so sure about those Kales. You could also take a chance and plant some less hardy plants, like tomatoes, to get an early start. But it will be a gamble - we are not out of winter just yet. We could see a return to prolonged wet and cool weather, even into April.

Oh, and sad to say, but it seems like the last of Delicata Squash are gone until next year.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cool Monday and more potential for rain

Well, expect much less ridging this week than previously foretasted. Yup, that is right, you can expect some wet weather. We are now moving into spring, when our weather tends to be most difficult to forecast. Mid winter, we are usually in a wet pattern or a dry pattern. With a wet pattern, we get rain every few days, and sometimes a break in the rain. With a dry pattern, we find clear skies and cooler temperatures.

This week, we can look forward to dropping temperatures today (Monday) with an increasing chance of rain (and perhaps a little snow on the higher Bay Area peaks) this evening. We get a short break tomorrow morning, which has a less likely chance of rain. Precipitation chances increase, with the greatest threat between 6PM on Tuesday and 4AM on Wednesday. Cool and clearing on Wednesday.

Temperatures on a slight climb during the week. A nice day, if somewhat cool, forecast for Thursday. Another chance for rainy weather to come in on Friday, especially in the evening and overnight hours. Current models tend toward a clear and warmer (but not too warm) weekend.

That being said, some models are suggesting a strong system coming out of the Gulf of Alaska on Friday and sitting on us for at least through Saturday. Chances are this system will stay mostly to the north and only brush us Friday night. While we could use the rain, fair weather is always welcome on the weekend.

Spring vegetables continue to look good. This moderate weather is perfect for our produce. Enough rain and moisture to keep that ground wet, but not enough to saturate it. Paired with sunny periods, our plants are super stoked. Our backyard is seeing a few tulips opening. A for sure sign of spring.

And for those of you who did not or will not plant your own tomatoes from seed, there is still an option. Love Apple Farms begins its awesome tomato seedling sale on March 13th. I find a few purchased seedlings a great way to add variety, as well as getting a few early producers. I just planted my seeds this past weekend, so I'm a little behind.

Wrap up for this week. Chance of rain today through Wednesday morning. Clear, and then another chance beginning mid Friday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

This Weekend: Showery or Clear. Las Vegas Style

Making your plans for this weekend will be a gamble. We currently have a low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska, on its way to the west coast. This storm is supposed to close off just before hitting California. Once it does that, it is anybodies guess as to what will happen next. The best forecast models does have the system dropping south. For the Sierra, this mean light (if any) snow showers and cool weather. For the Bay Area, we could be high and dry, or showery and cloudy.

One scenerio has the storm dropping south before ever impacting the coast. This will keep us dry, with some high clouds, through mid day Saturday, with then a slight chance of wrap around showers Saturday evening into Sunday morning. A second scenario has the storm reaching the coast some time on Friday, with significant showers north of SF. As the system then drops south, we could expect a short lived, but moderate rain fall, followed by showery weather lasting through mid day on Sunday. Still, this scattered showers weather can make for a great day of hiking around the redwoods. It helps create fog and cloud forest appeal.

As I stated in my comment yesterday, the good news is around produce. The past months have been just about the right amount of wet. Artichokes are coming back into season a bit early this year. Expect high quality and low prices starting about next week. Asparagus is expected to do well. the crowns did not rot (yay!), and we are already seeing some Salinas product coming into the market, and can expect the awesome Delta Aspargus to show in a few weeks. This bodes well for our produce season in general. If we continue with the moderate rains, with brief warma nd sunny periods inbetween, we can expect a bountiful Californai harvest, and plenty of water to go around.

Tuesday evening's break in the storms was perfect. I checked out my back yard plot and was excited to see that it was time again to pick some lettuce. This weather has been awesome for production. I was also excited to see my year old plus (been producing since UJanuary of 2009) chard plants needed to be trimmed back. Escarole also yielded well - and helped with last nights dinner of a escarole, Italian sausage, garlic, lemon & chili flake pasta. Yum. My kale still has not had its break out period, but at least offer some harvest every two weeks.

Snow report: Good storms this week have deposited 2'+ of dry light snow on the South Lake resorts. Less up north. Cool temps expected through the weekend should keep the shussing good. If we get even a little snow Friday/Saturday, it could be awesome. Easy driving expected with no major storms predicted. If you like the winter snow, get it while it is here. Spring conditions are not too far away. Backcountry is a little sketch from the last series of storms streching back to Feb. 19th. Know before you go. But it is pretty awesome out there. Last Sunday yielded some waist deep, with just a little work.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hydrologically speaking, we are in good waters. More in the forecast.

We are finally looking like we may actually make a move out of the drought. From my very scientific drive by of the Lexington Reservoir, we are at the highest water level since 2004. When I spoke with an employee of a central valley municipal water company, and while they will make no official forecast until April 1st (as a lot depends on the snow pack), things are looking good for water in the Golden State for the first time in half a decade.

And we have more rain on the way with a one - two punch. Tuesday looks to begin off dry, with an increasing chance of showers through the morning commute hours. This first wave will be a weakening storm acting mostly as a cold front. Rain increases to moderate and possibly heavy at times Tuesday night before a slight break Wednesday morning (except for those in the North Bay). The real brunt of the mid week storm should be Wednesday night. All said, we are looking at another possible 1.5" to 2.5" of water in the Bay Area hills. Hey, let's go Muddin'. (That would be taking our 4x4 out for a run in the mud and making some donuts while pounding MGD)

Anyway. Showery, then clearing on Thursday. Forecast models are having a difficult time coming to an agreement for the Friday storm system. Some suggest a southerly and coastal path, while others suggest a cut off low that sits on Central California for a few days. In both scenarios, we begin seeing a chance of precipitation sometime Friday, increasing in chance through the day with moderate rainfall. If the storm then moves south, expect more mudslides in SoCal. If, OTOH, it cuts off, we could see wet weather persist through the weekend, with some clearing by Sunday. Once again, best bet for sun is on Sunday. Yay Sunday!

Currently it looks like we could get high pressure setting upon us through Wednesday or Thursday of next week (3/10). Of course, some models suggest this high pressure being weak and breaking down well before then. Greatest chance of rain in the North Bay.

Snow? Sure looks like. Tuesday's storm is looking the warmest with freezing level around 6500'. Wednesday is cooler and the coldest looks to be on Friday. For those inclined to care, let us hope for the cut off low forecast, as that will bring cold temps, persistent snow and good cloud cover. It is March, and that sun is warm. It can turn powder to mank in a matter of hours.

More green hills and great hiking. Trails are still to be a bit on the wet side for mountain biking, but this is great cycling weather. Last Sunday was about perfect for a ride. Warm, but not hot. Crisp and clear. And speaking of the sun - don't forget that sunblock. As we move into spring the cool air can be deceiving - don't get caught turning red. Think SPF.

Update later this week on the weekend weather and the March outlook.