Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Details for the Weekend, the Holiday and, Beyond

We are now just a few days out, and make a better guess as to the timing of the impeding rain. Today Wednesday, remains mild, but a bit cooler than the past few days. I was in the Sierra yesterday, and there was a distinct cold north winds across the ridge tops at about 9200'. A few wispy clouds dotted the sky, as we have this morning in Santa Cruz. Tomorrow is again mild, a bit cooler, and windy across the mountains. On the coast we are not expecting much of a wind event, but for those near the top of hills and in certain valleys, gust may get a bit strong.

Rain looks yo be approaching the Bay Area, from the north, mid day Friday. By Saturday morning rain should extend south of Monterey. We do have a chance of passing showers as early as Thursday, but the big push begins with the weekend. As the storm approaches, we can expect some SW winds, and dropping temperatures. Saturday will be cold. Sunday colder. Sunday and Monday nights should be very cold. It is a good possibility of seeing snow in the local hills, as some forecast are calling for snow levels as low as 2000'.

This weekend is stormy. It will come in waves that look to be strongest during the day on Saturday and Sunday evening. We can expect .75 to an inch or more rain through Monday morning. Clouds and showers could linger through as late as Wednesday morning, but most likely Tuesday will have some sun. It will remain cold and moderate through the week. Thanksgiving is looking nice, with plenty of sun and milder temperatures through the weekend. After that we sit under a blocking high for about a week. Models are showing a warmer, pineapple express riding on top of that high, pumping a lot of moisture just to our north. San Francisco and Lake Tahoe are on the southern edge of this moisture. Depending on where the jet lines up, we could potentially see very wet weather, just showers or even staying completely dry. Time will tell.

By Monday morning the rain should still be relatively consistent, so plan for a longer slower commute. We have already had a few rains this season, so oil on the road should not be too much of an issue, OTOH there are two factors to consider. Some folks have developed recent confidence to driving in the rain. Some of them do not deserve this confidence. Watch out for them. There have been several bad highway wrecks so far this season. Also, with such cold temperatures and potentially clearing skies (especially Tuesday AM), there is the chance for black ice - a phenomena that many BA residence have no experience with. Keep an eye out for slick spots in shadowed dips and high hill tops.

Okay holiday skiers and riders. As it stands right now we are looking at about 18" at lake level, 2-3' at the resorts and more than four feet at the crest. This storm has the potential to deliver even more that, but we don't want to be too hopeful. Squaw, Northstar and Heavenly are sure to be open, with the existing snow pack and manmade. With another two to three feet, we could see more terrain opening. Alpine says they will open if they get 3 feet. Kirkwood is likely to do the same. There is currently a decent snowpack on north faces about 8000'. It is thin though, and this new storm will cover up a lot of the exposed rock, stumps, and such. Be careful if you travel off piste. This snow storm will be cold and light, so you will sink through to the bottom, and sometimes that means dry earth. There is nothing worse than ending your season on opening day. Backcountry users, use caution. All this new snow will be falling on a crust, and it is not coming in all that wet.

How do you gardens look? If you have not done so recently, water them. This time of year it is easy to forget, but during dry (and warm) spells it is important to remember. We are not really expecting frost before the rain, but it important to keep you plants hydrated to protect from the cold. Speaking of which, you may want to get out there and protect any tender or young plants from the cold mornings coming.

And at the market, apples and plums are still around. Persimmons and pineapple guava are coming in. The last of the tomatoes and berries are disappearing, and tend to be not nearly as sweet as a month ago. Plenty of greens and brassica. It is roasting season. And crock pot season. BTW, does anyone have some good crock pot recipes?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fair Weather for Now. Cold and Wet By Week's End.

The next few days are to continue with the sunny and fair weather. Tomorrow, Monday, looks to be the warmest of the coming week, with up to 80F expected in Mountain View. Mid 70s in San Francisco and coastal locations, as well as the central valley. Temperatures and weather to remain moderate through mid week, with daily highs dropping a few degrees daily through next weekend.

The big news is the change of weather expected to arrive later in the week, as early as Thursday. Poor weather potential really increases by Saturday night. A cold Alaskan air mass is to begin moving slowly down the coast starting around Tuesday. The storm is to sit and gather strength in the Gulf of Alaska, as cold Arctic air pumps into its core. This system is to hold together and bring rain to the coast and snow to the mountains of California later in the week.. And, yes, this one is very cold. By next Monday we could potentially see snow levels dropping to around 3000', giving the Bay Area some snow capped hills.

Thursday should be the day we begin to see the shift in the weather, with increasing winds later in the day, and a high temperature earlier in the day, as cold air begins to usher in. A chance of rain on Friday, as winds continue with dropping temperatures. Saturday is a repeat of Friday, with a slightly greater chance of rain. It looks like the brunt of this system will hit us on Sunday and into Monday. Plan for a wet commute on Monday (with a chance on Friday as well).

This is potentially the first big storm of the season for the high Sierra, and could be a season opener for the resorts. There is already 6-30" of snow in the mountains (deepest at the crest). If this next storm comes to pass, we could see the addition of 2-5 more feet of snow. This could be the first time since 2004 that we had significant snow for the Thanksgiving holiday. And, if we are to believe the models, the holiday will be beautiful and clear. Currently, the fantasy charts end the month with another whopper of a storm, arriving around Monday (29th).

This week in surf, swells continue in the moderate range, with the best in quality looking to be about Wednesday morning. Winds are to be a bit of an issue, with strong NW winds forecasted Monday and Tuesday. We get a bit of a lighter, more variable wind for Wednesday, before the S/SW winds begin to churn up ahead of Friday's system. By the weekend, we can expect a little bit of victory at sea.

As for the gardens, this is a good afternoon to get out and take care of any yard work. Next weekend looks like a wash, and a cold one at that. If you have any young and/or tender plants, it may be a good idea to get out a few floating row covers. We had been hoping to see some of our sumer squash put out a little bit of a fall crop, but I think these plants may not do too well with this approaching system. Typical over winter vegetables should be fine, as the coldest weather should be brief, with some rebound as early as Tuesday. And don't forget to get your garlic in the ground, if you have not already done so. If you wait to long, you'll end up with small bulbs and small cloves that you will curse all summer long.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today's Heat Soon To Change; Cooler and Wetter This Weekend.

It was absolutely beautiful today in Santa Cruz. Hot, even. Just a slight breeze. This is the kind of November weather that makes me smile. As long as we get our water. And that looks to be coming as early as late Friday.

Today is the end of the short heat wave we had. While technically not a heat wave, I think it qualifies on the Winter Scale, with inland highs tapping 90 in places. High temperatures tomorrow back down in the high 70s inland and 60s at the coast. With all areas in the 60s by Saturday. Up in the Sierra, high temperatures dip in the the 50s, with freezing temperatures all day on Monday (above 8000').

The first chance of rain comes late Friday and into Saturday. This first storm does not have a lot of water associated with in, but will foster in the first wave of colder air. The one to keep our eyes on shows up on Sunday and lingers into Monday. QPF forecast are all over the map, but some point to almost 3" of precipitation over the Sierra Crest with about an inch around the Bay Area (heaviest north).

While this storm is to be colder than some of the October systems, we still are expecting over night lows in the high 40s down in the bay. Temperatures to rebound a bit through the week. The longer term forecast is hard to pin down right now. Early next week, we should see clearing skies for Tuesday with cool temperatures. A storm brushes by to our north on Wednesday. Veterans Day looks warm and sunny, with about 70 degrees expected. What happens after Thursday could be continued mild and mild, or there in a chance of another system nosing in on Friday. We will need to look at the models later this week.

Okay, so the low down on the snow. I do not expect to see 3" of precip or anywhere near three feet of snow. At the highest elevations, and in the best locations, we may see 18" or more. Down at lake level, we can expect a few inches to half a foot. While this is not enough to open up the resorts, the cooler weather, and cold nights to follow will allow those snow making locales (Northstar and Heavenly) to get the guns running. This is the best looking set up we have had so far this season, am some have suggested we could get enough to close Tioga Pass for the winter.

For those who did not know, swell #1 hit the west coast earlier this week, with 25' plus surf in the Bay Area. Seas have subsided to the 5-8' range, but are expected to continue for a few more days. Wave making systems continue to cue up across the NorPac, so this is a good time to get out there and get some. Continued mild local winds through the weekend, with a good NW gradient forming on Monday. This same wind will usher in more cold air behind the storm.

Well, my garden is kind of freaking out. Wet, cool, warm, wet, then hot, hot, hot. I came home today and saw some very un happy choy and chard. They may make it through, but I wonder if things will bolt on me. I know some lettuce did. Our young fava beans, OTOH, are super stoked. And I am still setting and growing some winter squash. We will need to wait to see if that works out. As for the real world of produce, with this change of season, we are seeing a shift to southerly growing districts for summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and other tender vegetables. There are still some local plums on the market, but otherwise stone fruit are gone. This week's heat ripened up some late season yellow watermelons in the Salinas Valley. Persimmons and pineapple guavas are coming in. Apples are holding strong, but my favorite, the Empire, is nearly done.

The fluctuations in the weather make it a challenge for growing, but these burst of warm periods, with cool (not cold) wet periods are pretty nice for young starts. If the La Nina notes are correct, we could see an early and warm spring, after a short cold winter. As long as we ease into that change, we could be in for a boom year for winter produce.