Monday, February 28, 2011

Pack Your Bags for the Pineapple Express.

That would mean to say that more rain is a coming.  This time a bit warmer and a bit wetter.  Yup, wetter rain, and much wetter snow.  If you had a chance to even kick around a bit of snow this past weekend up in the Sierra, you would know what I mean.  It was fluff, blower, smoke.  The snowpack reached down below 4000 feet.  And there was over a foot on the ground when I went by the tomato hothouses in Pioneer.  Now that looked odd, yet explains the paltry appearance of the local fruit in the stores this weekend.  But times are a changing.  Warmer times are a coming.

Today should start fair, with mostly sunny skies.  Similar to yesterday, perhaps starting off a bit clearer.  Clouds may starting filling in through the afternoon and will certainly begin to take over the sky by late Tuesday.  Highs moderate in the mid to high 50s.  Rain fills in overnight, and should be heavy by Wednesday morning.  A little cooler in the mid 50s (but certainly not cold like it has been the past few storms) and wet all day long.  Showers moderate late Wednesday, but Thursday is to remain showery.  Stars should begin to show by early morning Friday, with a nice warm day on tap.  We should be hitting 60F around the Bay on Saturday.  But it will be a short break, as another wet tap system is going to arrive later on Saturday.

We have a convergence of the northern and southern branch of the jet stream happening.  Warm and moist air streaming across the tropical Pacific is merging with colder arctic air to make these storms.  While the cold moving in from the north chills the air enough to make snow at higher elevations, they are to remain quite warm.  For better or for worse, the snow level should remain at or near lake level (Lake Tahoe 6200').  But, these systems are also carrying a lot of moisture.  1/2" of precipitation expected around SF, with up to an inch just north in Marin.  Two inches expected in the Sierra, and even with wetter heavier snow, we are talking one to two feet, especially at higher elevations along the crest.  Snow levels starting as high as 7000 feet and lowering overnight to 5000 feet.  Regardless, this will be a bit up pineapple upside down cake, with denser snow falling on several feet of low density snow.  Too bad, as the current snow is simply awesome (and stable).

While hiking at 9000 feet Saturday I suddenly recalled that I did not bring my lettuce seedlings in overnight before the rains and cold started.  I was horrified as I was sure they had frozen overnight at sea level.  When I got home I was shocked to see that not only were they alive, but they looked to be flourishing.  I've since kept them outside to finish the hardening off period.  Still looking good.  While morning temperatures have been chilly the last few days, it has not been quite cold enough to frost lettuce in my backyard.  This is good news for spring plantings as well as the vegetable and fruit market. Surprisingly, Wattsonville hothoused strawberries are beginning to show at the market. And there are rumors that January's and early February's fine fine weather have jumped started regular strawberry production.  Before we make a call, we will need to see what the ramifications of 10 days of cold weather will be.  Still, the growing year is going well.  Plenty of water and plenty of warmth so far.  All my plants are looking pretty happy including the broccoli, Brussels, fava, peas, chard, choy and the odd thorny tomato like plant.

Water is also looking good.  Reports come out in the next few days.  Snow pack is looking good.  We have reached about 100% of annual snow fall averages for the Tahoe resorts.  Lexington is on the rebound, but can still accept a lot more water.  But it may even have some snow still to melt off in the shadows of the surrounding hills.  Hopefully this water years remains above average to we can combat a bit of the effects of our recent drought.  We will report here.

Sunny today and Tuesday early.  Rain for Wednesday; showers on Thursday.  Fair and warm Friday and Saturday.  Wet again by Sunday.  And this will be the pattern through mid March.  Currently we are in a warm flow.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deep, White and Cold. Sunny Skies Overhead.

I awoke this morning to a white blanket across the front lawn.  Of course, I was at 7800', so it was to be expected.  Down in the bay, many are rising to find that no snow has fallen on their lawn.  A bummer for some, and a blessing for others.  Still, the 34F this morning in Santa Cruz is cold enough to beat up on some of your plants and put a chill on your bones.  Today will be cold, with highs reaching only into the 40s in the Bay and the teens in the mountains.  It is bluebird up here right now, so, while cold, it is awesome out.

Tomorrow morning continues cold, with a bit of warming during the day.  Mostly sunny skies continue through Monday with perhaps the nicest day of the week.  We may see mid 30s in the mountains and high 50s on the coast.  Poor weather begins coming in next Tuesday with some cooling.  This next system is very wet and slower moving, though a bit warmer.  Wednesday seems to be the day with the heaviest precipitation, but showery weather continues for a few days.  More storms line up after that.

Go out an enjoy your Saturday.  It will be crisp, but a good weekend is ahead of us.  Prepare for more rain in the coming week and up through at least mid March.  We are just at the beginning of this series, so expect for more storms to come before we are under our regular spring high pressure.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cold Smoke.

I know we tend to focus on the Bay Area weather, but snow is the talk of the town this coming weekend.  Up in the Sierra, they are expecting several to upwards of four feet of snow by Saturday morning.  Record cold temperatures, and sun breaking out late in the day should make for a spectacular Saturday.  But you will not need to travel to Tahoe this weekend to enjoy the snow.  You can do that right here in the Santa Cruz mountains, or Diable.  Even Tam should get some up top.  Road may get a bit tricky in the next few days, especially on Saturday morning.  We may see snow on the roads down to 100 feet above sea level as dawn breaks.  Get out and enjoy it, but be careful.

It will be shockingly cold on Saturday, regardless if you live on the coast or in the hills.  Be prepared.  Carry extra layers and layer on more than you think you will need.  Expect cold.

Rain was reported beginning around 7AM in San Francisco.  Light snow was falling along the crest this morning, and it got more consistent in the afternoon.  Falling down consistent this evening.  A storm day of skiing is on tap for tomorrow, and a great weekend ahead.

Sunday should be sunny and warm up a bit.  We may see the high 50s through Monday, but a breeze start to comes in mid day, cooling this off.  Rain and showers begin again next week around Tuesday, with a spell of heavy precipitation forecasted.  Currently, it looks like the brunt will come toward the end of the work week.

Another day of rain (or snow really for most areas), a fair Saturday, and a great Sunday.  Should be fun.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Icy Roads in the Bay Area. Cold Morning Air Makes for Challenging Driving

Not much new today.  Except perhaps that the storm coming in tomorrow will have a bit more over water trajectory.  That could mean a little more rain, and plenty of more snow.  Models also have the system moving through a bit quicker which may mean a more pleasant Saturday morning.  Looks like another fabulous powder weekend on tap with high temperatures on Saturday reaching into the teens.  Single digits at the summits, so dress warm.  This is going to feel more like Wyoming than California.

Icy roads were out there this morning in the Santa Cruz mountains.  Reports were coming in from areas along Summit Drive and Bear Creek Road.  As I drove down 17 in the pre dawn hours, the outside temperature at the Cats turns was 36F.  With the colder air moving in, and precipitation, we should expect some concern for black ice, especially Friday morning.  Drive safely out there and keep it slow.  Better late than never.

Still on track with rain (and snow) arriving tomorrow.  Continued cool, but the cold air shuttles in overnight Thursday and through the day on Friday.  Sunday and Monday are looking clear, with another system moving in around next Tuesday.  This one will not be as cold as our current system, but it will have a lot of water with it.  And the one after that.  More wet than dry through the first third of March.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snow Coming To Town? When Was the Last Time You Saw Flakes in SF?

Whaaa???  Yup.  Maybe.  Saturday morning looks like your best bet for catching fat flakes on your tongue.  Or to make a slushy snow ball.  Or see Mt. Tam shrouded in a white robe.  And, if we are lucky, the skies will be clearing by then, leaving big white puffy clouds, crisp blue skies, white hill tops and all that green we have been enjoying because of the copious rains in December followed by Juneary.  Of course, this is all speculation right now, but Friday's system is looking to pack some cold air.  We have today and tomorrow for sun.  Then clouds and rain for a few days.

Timing of the event is still tough.  There is a sort of block on the system right now, stalling it out in the northern latitudes.  As it spirals, it wraps in cold air.  It crosses some water, but not a lot on its way here way.  Rain on the coast by late Thursday.  Snow in the mountains starting earlier in the day.  The rain never gets that heavy, but the temperatures will drop and drop and drop through the day.  Snow levels begin above 5000 feet and will quickly lower to 2000 feet.  That will cover the coastal mountain ranges' higher peaks in snow and rime.  Up high, the water content of the snow will drop to 25:1, making the fluff (and by fluff, I mean blower) to pile up on top of the existing 10 feet from last week.  Looking at two or more feet by Saturday morning.  What is really amazing is that over night the snow level should drop down to below a thousand feet, and possibly touching down at sea level.  The sled runs down the grassy fields of the UCSC campus could open up with just a few inches.  Just be careful of rocks.

Think about a few things.  Your garden.  You may really want to consider how hardy are your plants.  Can they withstand a little snow? How about a freeze? Or a frost.  The weather clears out on Saturday, but the mornings will be crisp and cold Sunday, and even Monday.  Floating row covers can help.  They are basically light netting that traps just a little heat, and protects the plants from just a little dew (or frost).  Even a card board box around your plant can help, although the rain will make is soggy.  A mini hot house would really help.  Or you can just take your chances and see what makes it through.  I imagine lettuces are the most likely to get damaged.  Kale can grow in snow, so no worries there.  I will have to see how my young Brussels make it through.  And the peas.

Fair today and tomorrow.  Even just a bit warmer for Wednesday.  In the sun it has been pretty nice.  It may break 32F at 7000F tomorrow, but no fret as more snow is on the way.  Thursday cools and rain starts.  It will mostly be light to moderate but consistent for a day.  Rain turns showery overnight Friday and clearing in the morning Saturday.  It will get cold on Friday with overnight lows in the Bay around freezing.  Seriously, if this low snow level comes to pass, the top of Diablo could have some decent sledding or sliding.  If the road is open.  You may just need to hike it.  Slight warming Sunday and Monday, but still chilly.  More systems lining up behind that.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ba-ute-ta-full Out There.

Sunday morning we awoke to snow rimed mountain tops surrounding Monterey Bay.  It was a stunning thing to see as one walked along west cliff, or even just catching a glimpse from the downtown streets.  By afternoon, much of it had melted away, but the peaks remained covered.  It turned out to be quite a good day to head up to Henry Cowell State Park and walk among the redwoods.  (As reminder, support your state park system. It is an awesome resource)  We even climbed inside of the Fremont Tree.  Literally.   It remains quite cold out there, with the air staying crisp.  Today should warm up a bit more, but we stay in the low 50s.  Wednesday should be the warmest day of the week, reaching into the high 50s.  Get out and enjoy what you can the next few days.  It should be fine walking weather, and even the bike trails are starting to dry out.

We have a slight chance of showers forecasted for this morning; the sky has patchy clouds.  We had a spectacular sunrise this mornings.  The early part of the week looks to remain clear with light breezes and cold nights.  Increasing chance of showers and rain late Thursday into Friday.  Clearing weather forecasted for Saturday, with another fabulous Sunday is in the planning.  All in all, a fair week for a stormy winter period.  Down the road, things could turn quite wet again.

When we look out at the fantasy charts, the following two weeks look to continue with stormy weather, with the second week of March perhaps tapping into some tropical moisture.  If that happens, we will be into another extended wet period.  As we move into the spring months, these extended periods of unsettled weather become less and less common.  It is way to early to say this is the last spell like this for the winter, but come late March, high pressure should return and become more of the norm.  But then again, this winter has been far from normal.

It is not too late to start your own tomato plants.  Love Apple Farm has some great classes, and even a simple to use online tutorial.  I am trying their method of getting the seeds to sprout.  I will have to see how it works.  But bottom line is that now is the time to start working on your spring and summer garden.  Start your planning of what you want to grow.  Get your seeds started for peppers, tomatoes and eggplants so that the plants are strong and ready to go into the ground by April.  Put out some cool weather, short growth plants for a May harvest.  Turn your compost, amend your soil and get ready.  Spring will be here in a blink of the eye.

The surf looks pretty weak over the coming period.  Small swell combined with fair to poor winds does little to inspire.  Combined that with morning air temps around 45F, and it makes one want to stay dry and cozy.  On the other hand, the snow is looking great.  Snow showers continued on Sunday as resorts got back open to 100%.  Cold temperatures and a dusting should keep things in prime condition for the holiday today.  Ski week should be good, with very slight chances of snow early in the week, and a possibility of several feet between Thursday and Saturday.  Even with the late week storm, the weather should be much mellower than last week.  No storm of the winter stuff.  Still, remember to drive and play with caution.

A fair week ahead, even with some rain forecasted for the latter part.  Wednesday perhaps the best day of the week with sun and warmer daytime temps.  Great week for those vacationing on the snow with bluebird conditions the first half of the week.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Confounding Conditions Bring Snow to Diablo.

 Will this thing ever move south?  I mean really.  Instead of the storm pivoting from Tahoe, it decided to anchor the band in Sand Francisco, providing the central coast with some heavy rain fall over the past few hours.  The morning broke with promise, as the grey sky was showing some cracks.  And then it began to drizzle, then rain and finally pour.  With the ground already saturated, water rain through the streets.  It was wet, but now, it looks (again) like it might break.

The shift in the storm also allowed for some colder air to stay on top of us, instead of the slight warmer we saw yesterday.  Again, snow levels dropped, and this time we have the wet right on top of us.  The Diablo ski fields are filling in, and tomorrow may be a bluebird day for skiing above the bay.  Just be sure to bring your rock skis.  And in the real ski country, today continues to be turbulent, but much mellower than the past few days.  Kirkwood is reporting 12 feet of new snow, and the entire mountain is on schedule - but it will take some time to dig the back out of all that new fluff.  Tomorrow looks to be bluebird.  Cold temperatures keep the week ahead looking prime with a light refill coming in late in the work (or ski) week.  I know I'm gonna try to find some time in the coming weeks to get back up there.  It has returned to goodness.

Today, the rain, drizzle and the general greyness stick around for another twelve hours or so.  Sunday we can expect clearing skies and a fair amount of sun.  It could be spectacular.  And continued cool.  Early in the week we may see continued fair weather, as the next system is forecasted to mainly stay off shore.  Clouds begin to fill back in Wednesday into Thursday.  Lighter showers should return by late Thursday and continuing through Friday.  The heaviest rains look to be some time during the early morning hours on Friday.  Clearing anticipated again for next weekend.  The following week looks like a return to stronger storms.

This past week has been a challenge to forecast.  It never ceases to amaze me how storms moving in off the Pacific can be so unpredictable.  Even the ones in sync with the jet stream seem to have a mind of their own.  It is one of the wonders of California.  Another winter wonder for us it the fact that so many flowers seem to be enjoying like.  It is amazing.  I think about how back east, no only have they been under the brutal domain of winter for the past six week, but now that their weather has rebounded, they are still under the influence of that winter.  Skies can remain grey for weeks in upstate New York.  Northern New England may barely (if that) break the freezing mark.  And even as far south as our nation's capital they need to wait fro April for the trees to blossom.  Not us.  Here, we are in perpetual bloom.  So even after a week of grey and rain, there is plenty of beauty to behold.

After today, we for sure have a nice Sunday on tap.  Perhaps a few more before we see the return of light rain.  Next Friday and its fringes see some showers, but nothing like the past few days.  Then another fair weekend.  Around March 1st we see strong winds and stormy weather return.  Beyond that - still no signs that the storms doors will close.  So get out there and enjoy the few days of break that we have.  The creeks are flowing, and the land is lush.  A good spell to don some Wellies and go stomping.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seven and a Half Feet of New Snow. And More Falling Today.

Not that I have seen it for myself.  As you can probably discern from my pictures, I am still enjoying a wet and relaxing stay in Big Sur.  Here it has been all rain.  But word on the street is that snow levels dropped to 2000 feet last night; some of you folks around the bay may be able to see white hill tops.  Further east, along the Sierra Crest, over 90 inches of fresh is being reported for this week.  Today, and tonight, the storm will continue.  When all is said and done, we may top ten feet of new snow along the crest.  Half that, or more is expected around the lake.  This is the pattern change I have been talking about.  And it should stick around for a few weeks or more.

The line of heavy rain will move south along the coast today.  This morning, SF (and north) was already seeing some clearing.  While showers have returned in the area, the radar shows that the heaviest precipitation is now to our south.  SoCal is preparing for a drenching.  While we should expect showers to continue through tomorrow, Sunday is still looking to be a cool, but partly sunny day for the coast.  Get out and enjoy some of that.  We do have a slight chance for light (in comparison to the last few days) rain to return Monday and Tuesday, but this morning's guidance keeps that storm to our west.  The other change, though, is for some inside slider action returning wet weather to the region later next week.  It remains cool throughout the period.  Chance of more significant storms return the following week and into March.  The door remains open.

If you are planning to head up to the hills for the holiday weekend, please use caution.  Pack extra food, water and warm clothes.  Give your self extra time, and extra room on the road.  Carry chains (and put them on if you have 2WD).  Call ahead (800.427.7623) to be sure the roads are open.  And plan on thousands of Bay Area folks to be on the road with you.  Tomorrow could be awesome, but only if you arrive safely.  And bring your fat rockered skis.  You will want them.

As for you surfers, it looks like we are returning to fair conditions today, as the wind swings back around to off shore.  Northeast winds build in today and stick around for the weekend.  Mid period swell should continue in the head high range.  This should be a decent weekend to get out there and enjoy some smaller surf.  Monday, we should get another bout of south winds, before a return to the NE on Tuesday.  Swell begins to fade with the week.  Long term, we are looking at few swell producing storms, so get on it while it lasts.

The long and short?  Rain today, subsiding over night.  Lingering showers on Saturday, but clearing weather.  The sun pokes out for a hello on Sunday.  Get some.  Showers possible early next week, and likely late next week.  Next strong system around the first of March.  Hope you enjoyed the warm and dry weather the first six weeks of the year.  Winter has returned and is looking for revenge.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Driving to Big Sur is always a wonderful experience.  As soon as you pass Carmel, the land begins to change.  The first turn with views of the San Lucia rising out of the Pacific is always dramatic.  It never gets old.  It is even better during a break in winter storms, when the sky is a combination of blue, white and grey.  Yesterday had much better weather than anticipated.  It was still stormy and windy with squalls moving through - but it was not the blanket of grey that Tuesday was.  And it had many breaks in the rain. At least in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.  Further north, the rain was fairly continuos.

Point Reyes Station saw over 3 inches of rain on Wednesday.  Marin county in general had more rain than areas south of San Francisco.  Many areas around the bay received between 1/2 and 1 inch of rain.  Perhaps even more impressive is the three to four feet of snow that fell at many resorts in Tahoe.  Kirkwood is reporting a storm total of 52-59".  Wind kept many lifts from turning yesterday, and has done so again today.  So, while the today was sure to have been a great day, tomorrow should be even better.  It will take the resorts some time to ope up all of the terrain.

Today's storm has moved much closer to the coast than previously modeled, and inland enough to affect the Sierra.  While we will not see the 3" an hour type of snow that Tuesday night's system brought, we can expect up to an inch an hour in the higher elevations.  But the catch is this one may bring that kind of snow for 48 hours.  As this storm moves down the coast, in over L.A. and then up through the Nevada desert, it will pivot around Tahoe.  So the snow will first come from the west, then the south and finally the east.  We may see another 4 feet of snow by Saturday morning.

Rain was very heavy this morning in Big Sur.  It did let up for a few hours in the late morning, enough for us to enjoy a short hike.  Showery weather picked up again in the afternoon.  Rain is expected o continue for the central coast through Friday evening, and letting up a bit on Saturday.  Sunday looks like our next chance for a nice sunny day.  More storminess expected to return for President's Day.  The good news for next week is a possibility of a few consecutive days of sun starting Wednesday.  But, as you have seen, these things are hard to say for certain.

So in short, more rain through the end of the week.  Sunday looking like a day to get out and go for a hike.  In fact, it could be a great day for a hike.  If you can't get down to Big Sur, try finding a redwood grove near you.  And one with a waterfall, because the creeks are again flowing.  More rain early next week, but then clear for a few days.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trying to Stay Dry?

(9:45 update) Holy cow, I need to edit my post by adding this prelude.  It is freaking awesome out there right now.  And the kind of drawn out "awesome" that sounds a bit like singing angles.  There is a serious break in the storm right now.  Who knows how long it will continue?  It may hold off until tomorrow evening.  Or it may not.  If you have the chance, go sneak a peak of the mist rising off the mountains, or the sun rising about the bay.  It is the goods.  Or just sneak a stroll around the courtyard at your next break.  From earlier this morning...

On days like today you may wonder what to do with your free time.  If you just want to get out of the house, and you live in Santa Cruz, you may want to check out the independent film Bold Native, screening free tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 16th), at Kresge Town Hall, UCSC at 6PM.  It my help you consider how and what your eat.  Not for the faint of heart.  Or you could take care of your taxes.  We are headed toward Big Sur and will look for a window to go for a hike.  But first we are stopping in Moss Landing for fresh seafood.  Got to remember to pack our rain gear, cause it is going to be a wet couple of vacation days.

Started to drizzle last night around 7PM here in Santa Cruz.  Cool as well, with temperatures in the high 40s.  And it dropped overnight. Rain came in ernest around midnight.  Full on winter storms sure make you want to stay under the covers a bit longer than usual.  Tends to make me wish we had a wood burning stove.  But a day like this is not to be missed.  Roads are slick and slow this morning, and we can expect the same for the afternoon.  This mornings radar is suggesting the stormiest conditions have mostly passed through our area and we may see a mild day after all.  Still showery weather should persist through tonight.  Tomorrow looks a little less promising, with the morning being the best shot at a break in the clouds.

Of note is a combination of strong south westerly winds, a high lunar tide and swells building to the 15-20 foot range this morning.  It makes for some spectacular ocean viewing.  But use caution if you are venturing out toward the water.  On bigger sets and with rogue waves, the ocean can rise dramatically.  Stand well back, further than you think you may need to.  Also, beware of coastal flooding during the morning high tide period between 8AM and 11AM.  For you surfers out there, it is not really worth venturing out in the water today.  Sometime tomorrow the winds should shift to the NW, and areas in town will begin to clean up.  Swell peaks mid day today and drops through Friday.

Models this morning again suggest an increasing chance of rain for our area starting late on Thursday and into Friday.  Moisture may linger over the weekend as well.  This next storm will still target southern California, but it now will be moving right down the coast, giving all of us a significant amount of rain fall.  There is another change in the forecast; this next storm is not expected to bring in colder air.  It may actually warm things up very slightly (although perhaps imperceptibly).  We will have to keep an eye out over the next few days to see how the weekend will turn out.  Regardless, if you are a snow slider, you may want to drop all plans and get your self up to Tahoe.  It is going to be a very good weekend indeed. Depending on where you ski, we should have 3-7 feet of new snow by week's end.

Snow levels to remain a bit high for Bay Area viewing.  Today will see freezing levels drop from around 5000 feet to 4000 feet.  Just a bit too high for a spackling on Diablo.  We may see some additional cooling tonight, but we can no longer plan of a beautiful snow capped ring around San Jose for the morning commute.  Possible, but not probable.  Cold air is still expected to move in south of us, with possible freezing levels low enough to provide the mountains on the north rim of the L.A. basin to get a little white plaster for Friday morning.  Kind of ironic, don't ya think?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Brisk is the Word.

Today turned out to be not all that bad.  I mean, it is not like you were staring out the window thinking to yourself "why do I need to be inside today?"  Nor was it horrible to be on the other side of the pane if you did not mind you some wind.  And by "some", I mean copious amounts of stormy gusts.  It was breezy out there today.  Alas, it was not wet, and that is what made today not that bad.  It was a good day to run errands downtown, and it would have been even been pretty nice for a walk along West Cliff.

It was cooler, and it will continue to get colder.  The rain is just to our north, and is moving south.  We should see it soon.  A strong cold front is moving through tonight and into the early morning hours on Wednesday.  Ahead of this front, the winds will continue to increase out of the southwest with gust up to 40mph in the hills.  Rain should be heavy for a while and possibly during the morning commute.  Things should begin to subside in the early evening tomorrow, but the turbulent weather will continue.

In the mountains, strong winds over 120 mph will cross the crest.  Snow will fall in excess of 3" per hour.  It will be a treacherous day for travel tomorrow above 4500 feet.  It will be purely insane above 7000 feet.  The crest may see five feet of snow, and the lake over two, by the time this portion of the storm dwindles over night Wednesday.  It will continue to snow into Thursday, but with much lighter showery weather.  And the wind will abate significantly.  Tahoe is going to be under a new white blanket.  Thursday will have nearly every powder nut in the state converging on the Sierra.  Be careful out there.  It will be deep and blower.  Bring your snorkel.

Thursday is looking to be showery down here as well. If you are lucky with your timing,  may even be able to sneak in a quick outdoor activity.  This mornings guidance brings the Friday storm closer to the coast.  It still looks to bring a bulls eye in the L.A. region, but a lot of moisture will drag onshore up here.  Another good inch of rain is possible in the Bay Area, and a foot of fresh for Tahoe.  This is the system that may open up the Diablo snowfields for a few days.  Expect rain to return for Friday and Saturday.  Although, the storm will not be quite the wind maker this current on is.

Clearing for the rest of the Holiday weekend, with more storms to come around Tuesday.  The high pressure shifts a bit east next week, causing the storms to have less over water trajectory.  In short, lighter rain and less wind.  The first week of March is starting to look like the current week, with multiple storms, multiple inches of rain and multiple feet of snow.

Light is fading.  Check your shed door.  Is it closed?  Pulled that towel in off the line?  Put away the lawn chair that will blow away tonight?  Get ready to cozy down and settle in for a few days.  This will be a good week for braised meats and root vegetables.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wet and Wild for the Next Few Days.

Well, the rain came in the pre dawn hours today here in Santa Cruz.  I awoke to the sound of rain falling and pattering on my window.  While this first wave came a bit earlier than expected, the day was mostly mild.  The rain let up before 8AM, and then held off through the rest of the day.  What a transition though. Sunday afternoon and evening was spectacular, with wispy clouds contrasting against the blue sky.  I am sure glad that I got out for a stroll with my friends.  This morning was quite a bit different, with a grey blanket stretching across to the horizon.  Expect things to worsen a bit tonight.

Tuesday morning will be mild, but the afternoon will be stormy, to say the least.  Heavy rain is expected to start mid to late in the day, and we could see over an inch of rain by this time on Wednesday.  Winds will be on the rise as well.  In the Sierra, they are bracing for one of the stronger and longer storms of the season, with upwards of 3" of precipitation expected by Thursday morning.  Combined with colder temperatures, a good amount of snow is going to pile up.  Freezing levels should drop down to below 5000 feet Tuesday as the cold front passes through.  Elevations as low s 4000' could see a foot or more of snow.  Three feet plus of snow is expected in the higher elevations, especially along the crest.  I am still calling Thursday for the powder day of the week, but it will take time for the resorts to dig out, get the lifts running and do their avi control work.  You may need to wait a bit for the gnar to open, but it will be good once it does.

Expect a longer than usual commute times tomorrow, especially in the evening. The surf should be blown out and the biking should be wet at best.  A good day to take care of the indoor activities.  Play with the kids, bake some bread or spend the extra hours at work.  Thursday we should see clearing, but a fair amount of showery weather should be planned for.  We are still watching the track of Friday's storm, but it looks like it will head south of hear.  We may see a nice day on Friday, as well as the weekend.  Regardless, things will be much colder than last week.

As far as produce goes, plan on some shortages to occur.  Hopefully we will remain freeze-free, but that is not certain.  The first concern though will be the heavy rains and strong winds tomorrow.  Lettuces will suffer a bit, but at the very least, harvest will be slowed and stopped over the next few days.  Depending on how the next few systems line up, we could see a pretty big stall in our farming.  On a more seasonal note, apple supplies are dwindling.  A few farmers still have them in cold storage, but not for long.  Kiwi and citrus are still going strong.  As are root vegetables.  I've had a lot of fun over the past week with watermelon radish.  Try a slaw of cabbage, carrot, celery, and radish with a lime-fish sauce-soy dressing.  Great with chicken or shrimp.

Stay dry and stay tuned.  Lots of rain for Tuesday and Wednesday, with some clearing on Thursday.  All bets still out for Friday and Saturday, except for the certain cold.  Time will tell.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Change is Here. Cold Smoke and Slick Roads on the Horizon.

When I got out of the water this morning, I thought I would comment today on how much cooler the air feels.  It was still crisp at 11AM.  But perhaps that was the NW breeze that has begun to blow across the outer waters.  First one of those I have felt in quite some time.  Even more unusual will be the strong southerlies that will begin to draw up later today and start howling by tomorrow.  You can say good bye to clean surf, at least for the next few days.

You may have already noticed the increase in cloud cover, especially piling up along high coastal ridge lines.  Do not fret, the rain still looks like it will hold off until late on Monday.  You may even be able to get home from work before you begin to hear that regular patter of winter.  It will be windy and cooler tomorrow.  If you are trying to get a little last minute outdoor activity in, aim for before noon.  When it does come in, the first wave should bring  a moderate amount of precipitation.  Rain may be heavy at times overnight Monday, with a total of less than .4 inches .

We should see a bit of a break in the weather for Tuesday.  Still, we are expecting showery weather all day long.  The showers and wind begin to pick up again late in the day Tuesday.  This will be the real hit this week.  Heavy rain is expected from Tuesday evening through late Wednesday, with over an inch possible. Cold air will also usher in with this second wave.  We should keep an eye out for local snow.  Diablo could see several inches to a foot of snow.  The mountains around San Jose may be snow capped by the morning commute on Thursday.  The weather begins to break on Thursday.

Drive carefully this week.  Not only may we see snowy roads in the Bay Area, but it has been 6 weeks since the last significant rain system.  This has allowed oil to build up again on our local highways.  As the rains get heavier, these oils will lift out of the pavement, combine with sitting water and make for some slick conditions.  Give yourself a little extra time and room while driving this week.

Another system is scheduled to come into the west coast next Friday.  Different models suggests different trajectories.  This one may again be a heavy rain (and snow) maker for our region, or it may stay off the coast for a while and cross L.A. instead.  If it takes the southerly track, the citizens of Pasadena may look up into the hills at fresh snow for the weekend.  For us, this track would result in much lighter precipitation, but continued cold (and perhaps colder) temperatures.  A chance of snow in Santa Cruz?  Not likely, but you never know.  We will be in Big Sur around this time, and how cool would it be to wake up to snow in the Ventanna wilderness?

The weekend will depend on the track of the Friday storm.  If it runs across us, Saturday will start out wet.  If it drives south, we will likely see a crisp, clearing morning to start the weekend.  Next week is till up in the air, but some models have storms crossing our region on Tuesday and Friday.  We will first keep an eye on the track for this coming Friday and then worry about next week.  Still, expect turbulent weather through the end of the month.  This will be a good period to watch some Oscar nominated films and file your taxes.  Or, you may want to go skiing.

It is going to get good.  President's Weekend is looking to be milder weather wise.  Perhaps even a bit of sun could be expected.  There will be a fresh two to four feet of snow, and cold temperatures keeping it squeaky.  If you just are not interested in tracked out powder and groomers, you could always find time to get up for a powder day mid week.  I now think Thursday is the day to hit it, if you are looking for the fresh.  There will not be much snow on the ground by Tuesday morning.  The wind will come in, but the snow won't start falling in earnest until a bit later.  Wednesday will be a storm day.  It looks windy, so if you are headed up, go to a resort that can run its lifts during a gale.  Refills should be copious for hump day, but Thursday should be the day.  Dying winds, three feet of fresh and a break in the clouds are all possibilities.  But, if you are driving up to Tahoe this week at all, again, give your self some extra time.  There will be chain controls, accidents and road closures to deal with.  Make sure you have some extra food, water and clothing with you.

You still have almost 20 hour to play in this sun filled weather.  Well, I guess that is not true, as clouds are increasing.  The long and the short of it, is we have a wet week ahead starting within a day.  Drive carefully, grab your rain gear, and look forward to a possible cold, but fair holiday weekend.  Just in closing, if you have an irrigation system running, turn it off tonight.  Mother nature is taking care of the next round of drinks.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The (Warm and Sunny) Quiet Before the Storm.

OMG it is gorgeous out there right now.  I am just back in from running errands in downtown Santa Cruz and it is hot out.  What a beautiful day.  Don't forget the sunblock, especially if you are getting out in the water this afternoon.  Steamer Lane was looking fun (and crowded) as I drove by.  Near perfect tides this afternoon and easing swell.  If you are reading this toward the end of your day, sneak out and start the weekend early.

Just a quick update on timing over the next few days.  Warm and sunny again tomorrow.  We should see increasing clouds and slightly cooler temperatures on Sunday.  Monday the gloom will fill in with even cooler air and we should see rain by evening.  Be prepared for a slower evening commute.  Showers should be mostly light south of SF, but areas north may see some moderate to heavy rain.   Tuesday looks like the heavy rain will filter in to the Monterey Bay region.  Colder again on Wednesday, with the heaviest precipitation shifting south toward Point Conception.  Keeps on getting colder each day, but Thursday will see lighter and variable precipitation.

The models are not all in agreement as we look beyond a week out - and it should be noted that these waves above may actually come in a little different than forecasted.  Next Friday some models have a system coming across our area, which would mean heavy rains.  Others have it driving down the coast with the storm moving on shore by San Diego, and bringing with it an arctic blast.  Snow in LA?  Now that would be a change in the weather pattern for sure.  I'll keep an eye on it all and report back.

After that is still way up in the air, but we continue to look unsettled through months end.  The storm doors remain open through the period, so we don't expect any extended periods of high pressure like (or even kind of like) the one we just had.  Ski week is currently looking less storm filled than next week, but it is still a ways off.  But you can plan on an excellent ski week.  We should see at least four feet of snow up in the higher elevations by the end of next week.  Potential powder days begin as early as Tuesday.  My best bet right now is for a great Friday the 18th.  Regardless, it is going to get soft, and cold.  One the firm base gets buried it should be blower and face shots.

Get out and enjoy the weekend.  Perhaps plan a beach party BBQ.  It sure is easier to get a fire pit in February.  I mentioned cleaning the gutters a bit back, but that got me thinking.  Look around you property for items that may collect water.  Anything that may have been left out, or it may have been there for years.  Get rid of them; clean up the yard.  We are going to get some serious rain, and puddles are breeding grounds for mosquitos.  Help preserve a mosquito free zone by doing your part and stop the puddles.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Get Out There and Enjoy Some Sun.

Got in the water yesterday for an hour. Surf was nothing special.  Well, in July, it would have been fantastic.  Head high, clean-ish, lumpy, heavy, hollow, fast lefts.  But compared to the past few week, it was good exercise.  Nice to get out there and get some sunshine.  That is my mantra this week.  Get every last bit on sun that I can. Sneak an hour here or there.  An early morning stroll, a lunch time escape, or a late day jaunt.  Just don't spend it inside if you have a choice.  Things are gonna change.  After we got out of the water yesterday, my friend actually said, "I miss the rain."  Not for long buddy, not for long.

So, what can you do over the next few days?

Surf came up a bit this morning and is running with 6-8' faces on the open coast.  Winds have turned more off shore and are generally coming from a north easterly direction.  Winds are blowing out of the bay this morning pretty strongly, and that suggest some hollow beach break is to be had.  Tides are moderate today.  Low tide is around 9:45 at 1.5 feet and high tide will be 2.8 feet at about 4:15.  Interestingly, the following low tide will be two hours later at 2.7 feet.  Barely a shift.  So, if it is breaking good at 2PM, it will probably stay that way until sunset.  Get out there today if you can.  We have that extra hour of late day sunlight as compared to the solstice.  The surf should drop Friday and again on Saturday.  Winds lighten up a bit, but stay off shore.  A new swell of decent size arrives on Sunday.  Late in the day Sunday or early Monday, the wind should start pulling strong out of the south and shut down the surf scene for next week.  Get some before it is victory at sea.

A little warmer out there today.  Better tomorrow.  Downright toasty by mid day Saturday.  Highs on the coast near 70 and hitting mid 50s in Tahoe.  Solid freeze happening overnight above 7000 feet.  You know what that means.  Wax up those skis, it is time for a corn harvest.  Should be a real nice couple of days, as the snow progressively softens on south, west and some east slopes.  There may even be some wintery stuff hidden in the shadows that loosens up a bit; search with care.  With each day getting warmer, we should see some ideal corn cycles happening through Saturday.  Start on the groomed and follow that sun around the hill as it softens up.  Or head out for a backcountry trip before the danger goes way up over the next few weeks.  Work your way around the aspects to make the most of the tour.  Sunday looks to be a bit cooler, with winds coming in, so perhaps it will be a good morning to rail some groomers and then head home.  But of course, the big news is starting around next Wednesday, by which time we should a return to deep soft conditions.

Do you like to ride fast and smooth mountain bike trails?  How about dry?  Well, you have a few more days to get out there before the rain comes.  The single track should be riding pretty good with the combined effect of a month of heavy rain, followed by warm drying air.  The hills are lush right now, so Wilder is looking green and beautiful.  You have until next Tuesday to get out there and ride the trails dry.  Then it will be mud season.  If you do head out when it is wet, try to avoid creating deep ruts.  As the next 21 days progress, the ground will slowly reach water capacity again, like it did in December.  The streams will start gushing and the puddles will grow.  Ride where the earth is tacky, but not saturated to maintain the best riding conditions.  Better yet, get your ride on during the next few days of great sun, and spend next week attending to your taxes.

Get out for a hike, a walk, a stroll.  Visit a farm, pick some fruit,  watch the chickens.  Clean up the yard, mow the lawn, clean the gutters.  Tend the garden, turn the soil, thin the sage bush.  Hell, head to the beach and work on that tan.  It is not quite, Build-an-Ark weather coming our way, but you get the point.  It is going to get cloudy, dreary and wet.  Do what it takes to get out there and absorb some sun rays.  Soon, none of us will be able to claim we miss the rain.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Next Week's Water Works Schedule.

Last evening turned out pretty nicely here in Santa Cruz.  The strong winds dies down to a mere moderate, and the air was crisp like a late fall day.  That weather pattern felt very autumn-like with the dramatic shift from warm to cold.  Some areas in the Sierra saw their morning time temperatures drop 25F in just one day.  I spent most of the day indoors, and felt like I just needed to get outside.  With the daylight beginning to stretch back into the realm of reasonable, we were able to find time for a brisk walk up in the Pogonip.  It was a reminder of how beautiful this place really is.  The late winter light was just perfect giving the ocean a deep purple hue.  The mossy kiln and shimmering koi, still full of magic.  And it will just get better.   It won't be long until those redwood groves begin looking like misty Endor.

Nice, but when is it going to rain?  This morning's charts look clear for the weekend, with just some cooling, and most of that on Sunday.  But that will only be noticeable because things get warmer tomorrow and pretty darn nice by Friday.  Expect some breezes with the approaching cold front Sunday. More cooling on Monday, but still looking dry in the morning.

It looks like we should get the first slug of moisture late next Monday into Tuesday.  And this first wave is looking to carry a lot of water.  So when it does start, it should come in heavy the first 12 hours.  Then things lighten up a bit.  It should stay pretty wet once the first wave comes through, although we may see some brief periods of clearing.  The next solid round of moisture looks like it should hit Thursday evening, and stays moderate through Friday.  Each day looks to get progressively cooler, with day time highs dropping down into the low to mid 50s by Friday.  Currently it looks like clearing for the weekend, and some rebound in temperatures.  For the long range it looks like more storms begin hitting the coast the following Tuesday (22nd).  From there we may see rain last through the end of the month.

Snow?  You betcha'.  And right now, it looks like things may come in just right.  The first wave should be warmer, and hence better at gripping the snow underneath.  We could see 6" of fresh by Tuesday morning when the lifts start turning.  Maybe more.  And then it should keep on snowing steadily through the week, with a good foot plus push coming in on Thursday.  As each day goes by, each wave is looking just a bit cooler than the prior.  By President's Day Weekend, we should have several feet of new fluff on the ground.  Then things clear up early Saturday morning allowing the hordes to descent on Tahoe.  Ski Week is looking even better because it will start off with packed powder.

Be smart on the road next week.  Both here in the Bay Area and up in the mountains.  It has been a while since many of us have had to drive in the rain, or snow.  Don't let your guard down.  I did last Friday night, driving up in the high Sierra, hit a pretty big patch of black ice, and had a good scare.  We came out unscathed, but can't say so much for the Subie.  Although the dozen eggs we had in the cooler made it through the ordeal intact.  Point is, use caution, slow down and give your self some extra time.

Nice on Friday.  Sneak out early if you can and get the tail end of this California dreamin' weather.  Use this weekend wisely and take care of what you need to get done outdoors.  Rain is coming around Tuesday and staying through the work week.  The following weekend is looking cool and clear(ish). The timing may be all wrong, but confidence is high in the pattern change.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Breezy Around the Bay Today; Rain May Hold Off Until Monday/ Tuesday

Gusty winds out there this morning.  Use caution when crossing bridges or driving on high ridge lines.  Winds are blowing out of the north at over 25mph with gust up and over 35mph.  That is a strong breeze.  Expect a fair amount of branches to fall and debris in general blowing around.  If you have a yard, and trees, later this week may be an opportune time to do a little raking before the next round of rain.  Avoid the mountains today if you can, as strong NE winds are continuing to blow.  While today is not seeing as strong of a breeze (or wind) as last Tuesday, it is notable that we have seen fairly consistent east winds over the crest for a week now.  I sure is balmy up there, but things will moderate later in the week.

Cold as well today.  This wind is the result of out high pressure system shifting into north, occupying Oregon and western Great Basin.  This is creating a local gradient, ushering in cold breezes.  Today will struggle to reach 60F (and it will feel colder with wind chill), while yesterday saw 73F here in Santa Cruz.  Can't complain too much about the coming weather, just because it has been so fantastic the last few weeks, and especially the last four days.  I hope you all made the most of it while it lasted.  We will have a short reprieve this Thursday and Friday, with calmer conditions and high 60s projected for the coast and high 40s in the Sierra.  Windy conditioned return on Saturday, and the cold ushers in for a longer stay on Sunday.

The PNA has now moved negative and the NOA positive, and the storm door is opening.  As the west coast high pressure is shifting north and east, an new one is forming just east of the dateline and a bit south of the Aleutian Islands.  This will allow for low pressures to move below the higher pressure and right into the California coast.  The first system to run into the cost, late on Saturday, will get slowed and weakened by the exiting high pressure.  In a sense, this first system is to open the door. It will bring colder air for Sunday and a little rain may trickle in, but mainly to our north.  Marin is the most likely to receive rain on Sunday, and that looks light at best.

With the door propped open on Sunday, the real storms are expected to arrive some time around Tuesday.  Exact timing of the waves is still a few days off for forecasting. Still expect heavy rains, cold air and strong winds (you remember those stormy conditions, right?) and two distinct waves of weather between Tuesday and Friday of next week.  Several inches of rain, and snow measured in feet is what is expected.  Air should be relatively cold with this system, but right now we are not expecting any snow in the bay area hills.  The PNA is forecasted to dip even further negative through the month, so we are not expecting any lengthy ridge to sit upon us and break up the storms.  We can expect a fairly stormy period through the end of February and into March.

Get your yards and gardens in order.  If you made any new plantings in the past few weeks, take a good look at your seedlings.  Are they well established and hardy?  If not (or you are not too sure), you may want to consider some sort of element protection such as a floating row cover, or a make shift Visgueen green house.  It should not be too cold with the first set of systems, but the following week looks like it may make an arctic (cold) and tropical (wet) tap.  Better be a little over cautious, than loose a spring's crop.  We have some young peas just breaking ground and plan to build them a small hot house to live in the next month.  The favas are just loving life right now, in full bloom, and looking great.  Hoping those weather the storms well.

Yesterday I mentioned that citrus is doing well.  Have you ever had a Cara Cara orange?  They are truly majestic, with a lighter colored flesh than the navel and just the right amount of sweet.  How about a Blood orange?  Another beauty, with deep red colored flesh (and again, just the right amount of sweet).  Both are at their peak right now, and available in local groceries and farmer's markets.  They combine really well with roasted beets, shaved fennel and avocado (all in season locally) in a salad over winter greens.  You don't even need dressing, just squeeze some OJ, drizzle a nice olive oil and sprinkle a little sea salt.

Cold and windy today.  Mild and warming through Friday.  Winds on Saturday, cold on Sunday and slight chance of rain over the weekend.  After that it is storm city.  Wax up the powder boards and break out the rain gear.  Winter is back.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Record Heat Yesterday, Cooling Tonight, Rain by the Weekend.

It was 81F in Oakland yesterday, while many in the Bay Area huddled inside of bars to watch the pig skin get tossed.  Unless you are a die hard Packers fan, I say you missed out.  It was a beach day.  We had some pretty wonderful weather since this past Friday.  But that is all about to change.  We have a milder week on tap ahead of us, and a full pattern change and rain by late in the weekend.  The rest of February will look very different from the past few weeks.

Today should be a bit cooler, with a high of 68F forecasted for Santa Cruz and 60F in SF.  Tuesday, we can expect the return of gusty north winds (NW along the coast and central valley, NE in the Sierra) and colder air.  Most areas of central California will struggle to get into the 60s on Tuesday.  The rest of the week will be milder with high 60s returning to Santa Cruz by Thursday.  Over the weekend, we have a chance of rain coming in some time on Saturday night into Sunday morning.  Still, this system may brush to our north and east, keeping us dry.  The real news is for next week though, as a series of storms are lining up to hit the west coast starting as early as Tuesday.

This is a week of transition.  The snow up in the Sierra will mostly be firm, with a combination of cool to cold air and strong winds.  Thursday looks like your best bet for soft snow until Valentine's Day, when we should be seeing the first of the real dumps.  We still have another round or two of swell coming in, but the winds this week are not the ideal we have had over the past month.  The weather should be pretty good for running and biking, expect for the strong winds forecasted on Tuesday.  All, in all, a good period to hunker down and get some work done.  Clean up the yard, tidy the garage, spend the extra hours at the office.  If you are a powder hound, you may need some time off around the 17th, so make good this week.

We have had some great weather for the garden and produce.  We will need to see how this next system comes in.  Hopefully we do not get too cold and the rains not too heavy.  I have started to enjoy the mid winter tomato a bit too much.  Of course, we will continue to see kale and chard.  Apples are slimming, but there are still some around.  Citrus is strong.  And if you are ever on route 88, Clements Ridge road side stand has opened back up, and they again have the most amazing Satsumas.  Get some while they last.

More details on the coming weeks as the models settle.  For now, cooler and dry through at least Saturday.  The an increasing chance of rain and stormy weather.

Friday, February 4, 2011

One More Week. Get Out and Enjoy the Great Weather.

Yup.  That is about the call now.  One more week before this all begins to break down and become nothing more than a pleasant memory.  2010 left like a lion with one strong start to the water year and very cold temperatures.  2011 came in like a lamb with record highs and only a few brief sprinkles of rain.  One more week.  Our high pressure has begun its migration north, and will shift westerly early next week.  By Thursday, a large low pressure system should begin to form in the Gulf of Alaska.  Best guess right now for the return of rain is next Sunday.  And once it comes, it should be more rain, than shine, for a spell.

This weekend, though,  will be off the charts.  If you are a weekend warrior, do not waste this opportunity to work on your tan.  The breeze should be lighter than has been all week and the sky will be mostly clear.  We may see a few higher elevation clouds due to the shifting high pressure, but it is not likely.  Low 70s expected today through Monday in Santa Cruz.  Up to the low 50s in Tahoe.  Even the sunny side of Market Street in SF may top out at 70F.  And this is February.  Ground Hog Day.  Mid-winter!  While my family and friends on the east coast are experiencing one brutal winter storm after another, I am sipping Mai Tais and applying sunblock.  Okay, I am not really sipping on cocktails, but I am applying a lot of sunblock these days.

The surf really jumped up yesterday to about 10' on the face, and the charts look even bigger this morning.  Winds remain light in the mornings, and this should be a pretty good weekend to enjoy waves.  The bike tracks were treated well by last weekend's rain, and the moisture has helped keep the trails nice and tacky.  Wilder is reported as running very well, and the green meadow grass is looking beautiful up there.  Along the coast there are all types of great hikes to get after.  One of my favorites is up in Point Reyes out to Wildcat Falls.  The water is still running pretty well along the coastal falls, although nothing like it was a few weeks ago.  And of course there is always the double excursion to Ano Nuevo for a hike out to the headlands followed by U-Pick kiwi across the street.  Wrap that up with a stop at Pie Ranch for some tasty treats.

And the snow, for you folks heading up there this weekend.  "Variable" will be the word of choice.  Sierra at Tahoe and Kirkwood are getting the best user reports, with still a fair amount of soft snow in northerly facing aspects.  A Northstar skier reported untracked powder still is to be found in a few select spots on the hill.  The wind and cold of the last week has done its best to preserve the fresh snow from Sunday.  The more westerly and southerly facing zones have moved into spring like conditions already - firm in the mornings and softening with the day.  This condition will likely become more widespread after today heats up.  Still, expect to find some winterly chalk in the shadows, and up at the higher elevations.  As for the backcountry, there is still has some unconsolidated powder in select spots, but expect mostly variable conditions running from powder, to chalk, to corn.

A great weekend ahead, and 7 or so days of fair weather to get your outside self in order.  Then be ready for the change of pattern.  No whining please; you have had more than your fair share of sunshine.  Now we need to allow those in the east to dig them selves out.  We still need more rain to make this a good water year, and ask any snowboarder - we need more snow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another Great Weekend is in the Making.

Another cold day today, and then some significant warming to follow.  The weekend is looking great at this point.  Santa Cruz county is looking forward to mid 70s by Sunday (only 70F on the coast) and even SF should warm up to the high 60s.  I keep saying, "enjoy it while it lasts," but it keeps coming and coming.  I still do expect this all to change, but it is taking some time for the pattern to shift.

While we are enjoying this great (warm and clear) winter weather, the east coast is currently experiencing a 'storm of the decade' and if you are headed that way, expect crazy delays.  And pack a parka.  It is cold, blustery and wintery east of the river.  The NOA has shifted positive, though, and we can look for the Hudson Bay Low to shift and dissipate, allowing for warming in the east.  This also opens up the exit door for any storms that may want to hit the west coast in the near future.  The PNA is still forecasted to move significantly negative in the next few days and the models are beginning to pick up on this.  Our high pressure should begin to migrate north, and then west, next week.  This would open up the storm doors around next weekend (2/12).

Tuesday was a fantastic day to be out touring in the Sierra.  Nearly a foot and half of new snow feel over areas near the crest on Sunday.  Monday remained cold, with a slight east breeze brewing.  Tuesday the easterlies had really picked up, ushering in particularly chiller air.  Still,  if you knew where to go, you could avoid the blustery east winds, ski thigh deep powder and have it all to your self.  So we shot a round of golf.

And avoid that ridge you wanted.  The air temperature remained well below freezing all day; the wind sure did not make things toasty. But the powder was light.  Inbounds it was mostly about perfect chalky groomers, and wind blown snow.  The conditions should hold up nicely this week and through the weekend.  Cold and windy days will keep the snow chalky, but that will begin to change by Friday.  The weekend should ski pretty nicely with high 40s, sun and little wind.  By Sunday we should be transitioned well into spring type conditions.

More surf on tap this week.  This morning we are seeing the same north east wind that hit the Sierra yesterday.  This is making for a chilly morning, but cleaning up the swells.  This morning is smaller, but size should bump up by afternoon.  The rest of the week continues in the 10' range and then begins to subside for the weekend.  After that we should see a drop in wave activity.

Plan for another great weekend.  This may be your last for a while.  I know I say this often, but I really mean it this time.  I guess the moral of the story is - don't let your days off go to waste.  Enjoy the great weather, and get the most out of the next week.  And don't forget to check your gardens.  Another warm spell will help dry soil out further.  And make those plants grow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sunny Days Return. Pattern Change Looking Likely to Begin in Ten Days

Sunday's rain came an left early this past weekend in Santa Cruz.  It was a wonderful evening for a post rain walk.  There is nothing quite like a clearing sky to make for fantastic sunsets.   We had a nice moderate fall of rain to settle the dust, moisten the ground and wash away the dirt.  The fresh rain left drops on the grass, and signs of spring were bountiful - even if that seems a bit odd for late January.  We have tulips breaking the ground, and blossoms on the trees.  I wonder how they will fair with the return of colder air.

Monday morning was cool, crisp and clear.  This trend is to continue with some warming through the week.  Highs in the Bay Area will range from mid 50s to low 60s early in the week, rising to 60s and possible 70s (again, in the Santa Cruz area) by Friday.  The weekend should remain warm, but dip just a bit from Friday's high.  Sun, sun, sun.  East winds develop by mid week.  We may see some gusty conditions over the hill tops in in E-W aligned valleys.  This will also give us a good morning chill.

The swells continue pouring into the coast.  The wind has not been the surfer's friend since Friday, but we should see east morning winds starting tomorrow.  Today is the small day for the week at head high, but new long period swells arrive on Wednesday and Friday, keeping the waves in the 10 foot range through weeks end.

Sunday was a good day for Tahoe.  The snow fall was variable, with the heaviest snow falling west and south of the lake, with the crest being the clear winner.  Heavenly received 6", Squaw 8", Alpine 15" and Kirkwood came in at 18".  This new snow was light and fluffy and did not stick well to the icy base below.  So some areas are deep, and others are thin.  Regardless, this is a nice resurfacing, and the skier traffic mid week should pack it down evenly to offer up mostly a packed powder base for this weekend.  The first half of the week remains cold, but not nearly as arctic cold as predicted.  The coldest air will remain east of the region.  Warming into the 40s over the weekend, but a steady east wind will bring continued chill.  All in all, it looks like a great ski week and weekend ahead.

Don't forget to tend to your gardens this week.  The rain was nice, but check your usual areas for soil drainage.  This was not a deluge, and we have not had any significant rain for weeks, soil expect soils to drain well.  You may need to do a watering by Thursday or Friday.  This is still a good time to get some lettuce in, but the window for new plantings will close soon, perhaps this weekend.  It has been a great period for growth.  I just hope our flowering favas set some beans before the next round of rains.