Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Epic Weather... For Another Day

Finally it is hot is California. I have even heard folks in Santa Cruz complaining about the heat. Don't worry folks, the marine layer will be making a return as early as this Thursday evening.

A low pressure system is arching over a high into Alaska and then slipping down the coast via Vancouver and into the Northwest. The bottom of the low pressure system could get as far south as San Francisco. There it will sit for a few days, pumping fog on top of us, until it gets kicked west around next Tuesday evening.

During this period there is a slight chance of snow showers above 9000'. Better get those skis waxed. Also, there is a slight chance of actual showery weather (not just the heavy fog drizzle we have had all summer).

Heat has a good chance of returning mid next week. Our pattern is kind of an all or nothing situation. If a low pressure settles over the Pacific Northwest, we get a southwest breeze which pulls moisture from cool ocean waters on top of us. Read: cold foggy drizzle. When, and if, the low pressure gets bounced east, a ridge sets upon us and significantly raises heights. Read: hot, sunny and dry.

As we move into autumn, we see an increased chance of the second scenario. We have a chance at a beautiful autumn this year. Yay! And most of the long term forecast are showing a switch to a fall pattern with an increasingly active northern jet stream, some minor Gulf of Alaska storms and a big fat high pressure sitting on top of us.

Don't forget to water your plants, except for those you don't water. We have a fall tomato harvest in my backyard this year, but it is going off this week. I have also noticed some new growth on my Delicata and my summer squash, beans and cucumbers are looking so happy this week. OTOH, chard and bok choy look a little angry. Not sure yet how the peas feel about things.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

June Gloom in August. Soon to Subside?

I'm sure pretty much all of you have noticed that it has been a very gloomy summer thus far with this past July being one of the coolest on record. And this current week is about as foggy as it gets in Santa Cruz. I am not sure if the sun even came out at all a few days this week. But, on the bright side, this has kept the winds off the surf, making for very glassy conditions.

As early as next Monday, we may see a shift in the weather, with the upper trough that has been persistently hanging over the Pacific Northwest finally shifting east and allowing for rising heights. Especially in the coastal valleys, we will see plenty of sun and a surge in temperatures. We can expect an increase in daily high temperatures of at least 10 degrees or more, and highs up to 100 possible in Napa. This could be great news, or bad, for your gardens.

Our garden has been doing well enough this summer. Due to the cool weather and lack of sun, our more tropical loving plants are looking a bit anemic. This is with out a doubt our worse year for tomatoes. Reports coming in from many farms are the same, as no one is getting the heat are used to. This may have been a good year to plant coastal tomatoes in some of the inland areas. Oddly, our small plants have still set plenty of fruit, and have been early to ripen. We think the brief hot spell in early June shocked the plants into fruiting and ripening early, but the recent fog has kept them from growing much more. There have also been reports of mite (they love the cold) issues in the Bay Area.

OTOH, our cool loving crops such as beans, peas, chard, choy and potatoes look great. Even our squash plants have been growing well, we just need some heat to set that fruit. Oh, and this has been a great year for the blackberries. Get out and get some before they are done. All in all, the pending release from fog will be a good thing for everyone.

The long term forecasters are looking at a very warm September and October. Yay, Indian Summer. It may be our only summer this year. And it may be brief, as winter is currently looking to be effected by La Nina. This will often mean cooler than average temperatures and may mean more than or less than average rainfall. Don't you love the exactness of it all? Of interesting note is the suggestion that we are entering into a period of global cooling.

Regardless, expect warmer, sunnier weather soon. This could last for a few weeks or a few months. Remember to adjust the watering of your plants accordingly. We may be in luck and see a sudden increase in warm weather loving plants such as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and summer squash. On the other hand, lettuce, chard, choy and kale that have been loving this weather may find themselves going to seed.

Finally, we may be in a transitional period. Recently, the northern jet stream has become active. We have already had a few few small storms form out in the central Pacific and then shift north of the Aleutian Islands. While this is nothing alarming, nor likely to effect our weather, this is the type of pattern that we would expect to see in Mid October. On the other side of the globe, the southern jet stream is still active, but has been relatively flat over the last week, and looks to continue that way. This is not conducive to storm development, and suggests a shifting of seasons.

It will be an interesting late summer and autumn this year. We will need to keep a close eye on the weather and be ready for a possible early winter. Or a prolonged summer. Time will tell.

EDIT: Afternoon run of the models are now suggesting another upper level trough to possibly move back into the north west by late next week. This warm spell next week could be short lived...