Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Little Clearing Is Always Nice. More Rain To Return.

So not every day needs to be rain.  It looks like finally, the sun is to begin poking out, but the promise of a fair holiday weekend looks to be unfounded.  Partly sunny weather today slowly gives to clouds and rain through Friday.  Temperatures to remain mild - neither too warm or too cold. 

What is most interesting from this past week are the mid weeks storms that split and sent the majority of the precipitation south.  While this type of weather pattern is typical in an El Nino year, it is not in a La Nina.  The PNW called, and they want their jet stream back.  Record December snows blanketed our Tahoe resorts and Mammoth came out as the clear winner with 10 feet at the base and 13.5 feet at the crest.  Tahoe ranged from 90-110" from this past week's system. Not too shabby, and a great set up for the year.  As for water, we are in really good conditions, but would have preferred to see a lower freezing level, keeping some of that water in the form of snow up in the mountains until the spring run off. 

I did see a lot of urban flooding this past Sunday in the foot hill communities, and even down in Santa Cruz and Marin.  Remember that our ground is well saturated, and at this point any rain can cause significant run off.  In SoCal it is a good idea to be careful, as mud and rock slides are a concern, especially in burn out areas.  I hope none of you were the folks who decided to try to drive across running water this past week.  Not smart; play safe.

This upcoming week looks to be much milder, but still some significant chance of rain.  Today was sunny, but clouds return on Friday and chance of rain by the evening.  Temperatures remain fairly mild, but cold enough for snow level down below lake level.  The weekend looks to be wet, with the heaviest falling on Saturday night.  Clearing returns for Monday and Tuesday.  So much for a fair holiday weekend.  Next week we have increasing chance of rain, especially later in the week.  Over the period we can expect about an inch of rain (or a foot of snow) each event.  All in all a great time to get up and ski all of the new snow.  Resorts are all 100% open, and winter has just begun.

In our garden we are seeing the garlic tips poking out of the surface.  This is great news, as we were concerned about rot with all this rain.  Fava beans are looking great, and I think the rains helped with getting rid of some of the aphids.  This cool weather is great for them, so be on the look out.  Also, slugs and snails are loving this weather.  The lettuces were not so much of a fan, and we can expect supplies to dwindle and price to rise.  OTOH, broccoli, and its ilk are loving this cool and wet weather.  Apples are still going strong, and I for one hope they continue late this year.  Pears, citrus and kiwi are doing great.  Strawberries are considered done until spring knocks - this rain really did them in.  It was a nice December surprise this year.

In short, an off and on week, with some rain (and mountain snow).  We are off to a great start of the water year, and this past week has done us well.  Only wished that we had colder temperatures, allowing more water to be caught in the snow pack.  Enjoy the holidays, and expect a January outlook soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Build Your Ark, and Gather the Animals

It is going to rain and rain hard.  Perhaps not for 40 days and 40 nights, but we are looking at over 6" of rain possible in the valley and upwards of 10" of precip over the Sierra Crest.  We got the first shot or rain yesterday, but that was just a teaser.  Thursday looks to be mostly fair with increasing clouds and a chance of rain increasing as the day continues.  More likely in the north bay.

Then it is game on with a storm moving into the area on Friday and bands continuing for the most part of a week.  Rain events seem to peek on Saturday and again on Monday/Tuesday.  In between the heavy periods of rain, we can expect moderate to heavy, and consistent rain - with little breaks.

The air was cooled by the old front that produced Tuesday's rain event, and snow levels should begin at or below 6000 feet.  Things warm up a little on Saturday, with snow/rain level rising to about 7500 feet before dropping with the passing of another cold front.  Still, this weather pattern will not bring the cold like the one we had in November.  But it will bring the snow, with upward of 6-10 feet by the end of the process.

As for the ski conditions, the resorts may have a hard time getting things open through this weather pattern, but expect freshies.  Now the hero powder, and not the mashed potatoes, but something in between.  And the big lines will fill in, for those of you who like a little adrenalin rush.  This should put the resorts in full swing by the Holiday week, as it looks like we may again move into a period of sunny skies by the 24th.  If you are headed up to the hills this weekend, drive with care, carry chains, and have a 4WD.  Best times for travel look like Friday morning, late Sunday and Monday.  By the time this thing is over, we can expect up to 50% of average annual snow fall, and about that much in our water year.  We may finally see ourselves move out of that drought, if we are lucky.

And the produce.  Word out there is that strawberries have been harvested in Salinas this week.  I mean, it is freaking December.  Go figure.  But that should get shut down by Friday.  Berries really do not like a pounding rain fall.  Also expect to see some damage to romaine and head lettuce.  Leaf lettuce may make it through, but I'd still expect to see a jump in price. Farmers may also need to pull out their root vegetables if the ground gets too wet.  We will need to see how it all comes to play.  With this much water in a short period of time, it is real hard to get that water to absorb.  Speaking of which...

If you, or your interest, live near a creek or river, keep a close eye over the next week.  This is flood weather, especially with a snow level hovering in the 5500-7500 foot range.  That means a lot of water will run off the mountains, into the creeks and rivers.  The Central Valley can be especially susceptible to  this.  And never drive your car into running water.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Nice Weekend Ahead; Some Heat For Sunday

Good news weekend warriors. It looks like we have a nice weekend to enjoy coming up. Clearing weather tonight and Saturday morning, with rising heights forecasted. That means clearing skies and some real warmth for a day or two. Can you say 70F for the coastal region. And this is the time of year that we can laugh at all the valley folks dealing with thick wet fog... finally, summer is over.

Clouds and drizzle continue today, with clearing over the weekend. Sunday looks like the peak of the warm weather, but still very nice on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday are transitions days, as the jet dips south and tries to break through the blocking high. Good chance for rain by Thursday and through next weekend. Still the charts have backed off through the week, and are less bullish. While it looks to be wet and colder, we are not seeing a tropical tap brining copious amounts of rain.

This next event looks to bring snow. The current weather pattern has not been so nice to Tahoe. Along tops of the mountains, we have seen some very wet snow, but it rained up to 8200' in most areas, helping set that Sierra cement. The good news is that the steeps are getting cakes and all the nooks and crannies are filling in. And the next storm should coat us with the lighter, more fun variety of snow. Still, if you are heading up this weekend, bring your groomer skis and sharpen up those edges. And be careful. Ice is hard.

Next week's storm to bring cooler temperatures and lower snow levels. Still, they could remain fairly high, at about lake level. Currently it looks like a few inches at the lake and up to a foot in the hills, over 3-4 days. Of course, we are still a week away and lot could change before then.

Long term we are looking at a week or so of wet weather, and clearing for the holiday weekend. Or, of course, some models suggest a more progressive pattern, brining more wet and cold weather. I for one will be at a Bills game during this time, so I expect cold sleet for the Buffalo area. I mean, that is what a December in western New York should look like.

This wet weather ahead does not look too bad for the garden. The soil is very wet out there and not really drying out between systems. So of course, we hope everyone has good drainage. Lettuce and leafy greens continue to do well with out any real issues in the near future. The cold from a few weeks ago did stunt some plants and hurt some tender (like lettuce) produce, but we are looking to rebound well. So far this is looking like a great season from Brussels, artichokes, and kales. Get your green on.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Break Today, with Sun; Then More Rain

Good morning all. I apologize for the lag in reports, but I found myself stuck up in the mountains for a while after I pulled a Silverado out of the snow. Good bye clutch.

Well, it did dump up in the Sierra with well over 10 feet for the season. Along the crest we have already approached 200" for the season. Well brought, as this sets up Tahoe for a a very successful holiday season. Get up there if you have a chance, it is pretty amazing.

Yesterday and last nights rain broke for a nice sunny morning out there. It feels good, but don't expect it to hold on too long. By Tuesday afternoon we could see the return of heavy cloud cover with rain before Wednesday morning. More rain on Thursday. You may have noticed that yesterday's storm was not too cold. A cold front did move through around 10pm last night and dropped the temperatures some.

This is bringing us the heavy sloppy Sierra cement we need to really get the base building underway. Why 10' is nothing to scoff at, and blower is hero like to ski in, a lot of craggy rocks were left exposed (or just under the snow). These snow sharks can at the least rip up your skis, and at the worst end your season early. Finally we are looking at getting some spackle.

As for the weekend, it is till up in the air. We are trending to a drying period, but the current set of systems are hard to pin point. We have a large low pressure setting up in the gulf, with short waves moving underneath it. This set up is also tapping some tropical moisture from the Pacific. Read - very wet, and warm(ish). If the jet sits north of us, we will get a little rain, and warmer temperatures. As the jet drops south, the water will come in biblical proportions and it could get very cold, as the low has an Artic core.

Most likely, by mid next week, we will see that jet dropping to our south and the rain and snow will begin. It could be nasty. While it is too far out to tell, my guess is some clearing by the first week of the holidays, as these systems usually retire within 10 days.

Persimmons are still around. Pomegranates are going off. The market has changed in the past few weeks, with pretty much all of the tender fruit gone. I had several good looking winter squash plants, with set fruit, die over the past week. Looks like we had a heavy frost here in Santa Cruz while I was gone. Be cautious of those clear nights after the storm; that is when we get our coldest weather. On the other hand, the favas are doing great. Still no sign of the garlic greens, and I am hoping with all this rain, my soil is draining well enough. Otherwise, those bulbs will rot.

Update coming mid week.