Monday, June 27, 2011

Winter Weather Advisory

Santa Cruz County sea bluff.
Up to six inches of snow may fall along the Sierra Crest in the Tahoe region.  The weather advisory is up from 2AM to 2PM this Wednesday.  If you are planning to travel over the mountains this coming Wednesday, you can expect winter travel.  Slick roads and blowing snow should be expected above 7000 feet.  But is is summer after all, so things should be clear by Wednesday evening.  If you are a powderhound, you may want to hit some high elevation meadows.  But don't expect that powder to stick around through Thursday.  That summertime sun will bake things out pretty quickly.  But this may give the Tahoe ski resorts opening for the holiday weekend a fresh smooth coat to even out those sun cups.

Down here along the coast, we should see some rain tomorrow.  North of the city, it may start some time in the morning.  Along the Monterey Bay, it will hold off until late afternoon or evening.  Perhaps up to an inch in part of Marin.  Over two inches in the northern counties.  About a quarter of an inch is expected in Monterey.  You can figure out what is between.  But these amounts are huge for June.  Santa Cruz averages just .2 inches for the month, and we received more than that already.  Wet roads are likely for the afternoon commute.  Showers may continue overnight, so expect some slick roads Wednesday morning.  And you can take a few days off from watering your lawn and garden.  Again, mother nature is buying the next round of drinks.

Mmmm. Tomato Season has begun.
Then things take a turn for the better.  The warm up I mentioned yesterday is still in the cards.  Sure, we will be dealing with that morning fog through the period, but high pressure is moving in.  Low to mid 80s are expected Friday and Saturday here in Santa Cruz.  Hot in the Central Valley, and high 70s at 7000 feet.  It is going to be a nice start to the holiday weekend.  It won't last along the coast, as the marine layer strengthens and cools things slightly starting Sunday.  Just slightly, though.  It will still be nice and warm enough to crack a cold beer as you work the grill.  Enjoy the holiday folks, but please be responsible.  And remember this is one of those times of years that (statistically) there will be a lot of drunk drivers on the road.  Don't be one of them.

So in short we see clouds and rain Tuesday.  Heavy fog in the morning.  Perhaps a touch of drizzle to start the day Wednesday, and then clearing by afternoon.  Morning fog resumes Thursday and a warming trend begins.  Peak in on Saturday with mid 80s around the Bay.  Slight cooling for the rest of the weekend and the fourth.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Interesting Week Ahead. A Chance of a Warm Up For the Holiday.

Summer jobs are always rewarding.  Honey Maker.
Summer is an interesting time of year for those of us on the central California coast.  Often we have fog in the mornings and sun in the afternoon.  "June Gloom" we call it, but it can occur any time from May through October.  We even occasionally get this weather in the winter.  The past weekend was not so bad and not so chilly.  It turned out much better than I predicted, which I guess is nice.  We have been seeing the fog clear pretty early the past few days.  Sure, that has kicked the wind up earlier, and stronger, but if you were able to block that wind, the days warmed up pretty nicely.  For instance, we have out tomatoes in a new spot this season (it is always good to rotate them to avoid disease build up).  While it does not get as much sun as some of the previous location, it is nearly completely blocked from the northwest winds, even on the worse days.  Turns out this little corner is the hottest spot in our yard, and these plants are loving it, even with the morning fog.

Tomorrow we see more of the same.  Fog in the morning giving way to sunshine.  What is curious about this week is that another low pressure system is expected to push down the coast from Canada, and may actually impact our region with rain.  It could even snow on Shasta, Lassen and the highest peaks around Lake Tahoe.  The bulk of this storm will be in Humboldt County, but Tahoe could see a half inch of precipitation and San Francisco up to a tenth.  The city is looking like it has a 50/50 chance of showers on Tuesday.  Less so as you move south.  As this system presses down the coast, it may push the marine layer away, briefly clearing the sky Tuesday morning.  Actual clouds will fill in by late morning and showers could begin in the afternoon.  Chance of precipitation increases slightly in the evening.  Wednesday should start off sunny before the fog returns for Thursday.  Winds will also lighten during this period, but ramp up late Thursday and beyond.  The good news is that we should be in a warm up period after that and see possible high 70s and 80s around the Bay for Saturday and the weekend.  Fog persists through the late evening and early morning hours.  This is a pattern that looks more like April than July.  Go figure.

Just lying down staring at the sky.  Summer pastime.
Either we are damn lucky, or this has been a great start to the growing season.  Our garden is in full swing and I blame this on a few things.  For starters, we took advantage of the warm and sunny weather we had back in January and got some Brussels sprout and broccoli started.  We also started peas back then, but we have already completed that harvest.  Then we have had great seedling weather back in April and May, with hot periods interspersed with cooler, wet periods.  This kept the soil wet, but allowed enough heat and sun to get things going.  Tomatoes are looking great and we have already begun to see the first Sungolds set on the vine.  These sweet cherry tomatoes have already made their first appearance at the local market.  Several squash are well on their way, and even our cucumbers are growing well.  Now it is all up to what July and August bring.  Current thinking suggests continuation of the fog for at least a week - and likely longer.  But it does look like three positive things will occur.  First, fog is likely to be lifting early in the morning, between 7am and 10am for most locations.  Second, the day time highs are lifting into the high 70s and low 80s by this weekend.  Finally, the wind gradient that has been on top of us for the past month may shift north, allowing for more sun.  Regardless, you should have your gardens in working order by now.  You can still plant though, as our growing seasons last well in the latter part of the year.

Blooms continue to go off.  As some end, others begin.
Surf's up.  Still.  Been windy, which is always a bummer, but the south swell really started to show last Friday and built through the day Saturday.  In town, the usual good spots where firing at head high and very crowded.  Out of town there only the most protected breaks were working, but crowds were thinner.  Expect the swell to continue through Monday, and slowly back off as the week progresses.  Still, surf should be fun for several more days.  On the plus side, the winds will go slack late on Monday.  Tuesday will bring light south winds, but if we are lucky, they will have a little east in them, allowing for the coast between Santa Cruz and SF to clean up.  Wednesday may also have light winds.  On Thursday, the gradient builds back in and sticks around through the weekend.  There is also some stuff brewing in the North Pacific and we may see a shorter period ground swell arrive by next Friday.  We will need to watch the charts over the next few days.  But it has been a great June for surf.  We only hope that July will be as good.

A touch of spring weather is on tap this week, as a storm comes out of the Gulf of Alaska and bring a chance of rain for Tuesday.  Air temperature will drop and only be in the mid 60s as the storm passes over us.  Things clear out on Wednesday and we enter a warming trend that should peak around 80F on Saturday.  Things cool just a few degrees through the rest of the holiday weekend.  Except for some morning fog, it looks like great barbecue weather.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For a Moment it Felt Like a Real Summer.

Summertime on Main Beach, Santa Cruz.
On Tuesday, the family and I headed out from the house for a walk along West Cliff and toward the Wharf for TGI Tuesdays at Olitas (a taco and a 'rita or beer for $6!).  There was a light breeze along the water, but once we got past the lighthouse, it was blocked by the point.  It went from warm to hot, and the beaches were packed with, well beach goers.  It was a blazing hot summer day on the first day of summer.  We ate our tacos and stepped back outside to be greeted by a chilly wind.  As we gazed north and west, a thick heavy fog was rolling in.  Quickly.  By the time we made it home, we were reminded of what summer really means in these parts.

And that fog is here to stay.  Wednesday morning cleared pretty quickly.  And it was actually warm under the fog from the heat left over from Tuesday.  Today, it cleared a bit later.  And it was a bit colder.  For the next few days it is going to be slow to clear, and many locations will see mostly cloudy skies all day.  Saturday looks like a dark day indeed for beach activities.  If you must see the sun, stay inland or high up.  It will be nice in the Sierra, were it will be almost as warm at 8000 feet as it is on the coast.  And it will actually feel warmer, because the sun will shine.  Around Sunday, it will be slightly less grim of a forecast, but don't expect much in early morning sunshine.  Or too much warmth.  It will struggle to get to 70F in Santa Cruz.  But that is toasty compared to the Sunset, where it may peak in the high 50s by Monday.  The usual warm spots around the bay will actually be pretty nice with high 70s to low 80s. Not too hot, but not too cold either.  But unless you are well east of the bay, and beyound the first set of hills. do not expect to escape the fog.  This is the gloom doom.  Cloudy mornings are in store for all around the bay.

Ice plant and wind waves.
It may even rain a touch.  Perhaps I should call it a deep fog drizzle.  For at least the next few mornings that could be the case.  Not really enough to wet the ground, but you may need to run your wipers.  By the middle of next week, we could see actual rain moving into the northern portion of the state and reaching down into Sonoma County.  This will again allow for some heavier fog to push across our area.  There is a slight chance that the system that pushes down the coast will help sweep out the fog, but not very likely.  It looks like we may see this weather continue through the end of the month.

The surf is still looking decent considering it is summer time.  Small inconsistent south swells continue to fill into the Santa Cruz points.  Nothing too exciting, but the next few days look like they could be fun.  The waves started off about knee high on Monday and have been building all week.  Today saw some chest high sets and it might build even more late tomorrow.  Saturday looks like it will be the peak of the south swell, with head high surf at the best spots.  Sunday looks fun as well.  Things begin fade after that and it does not look like much is on the horizon beyond. So get it while it is here.  The local wind swell should range from knee to head high, but it is mostly very short period and not offering much in the way of surf.  Mostly it is just chop to toss around your boat.  Unfortunately, the foggy mornings are not doing to much in the way of mellowing out the winds, so for the most part the action is at protected breaks in town.  There is a chance for the winds to let up a bit next week as that storm moves by to our north.  But by then there will not be much left of the ground swell.

Volunteer pumpkin.
This is a great weekend to start some seedlings, especially in those warmer zones.  The morning fog will keep your beds from getting to hot and drying out.  This will allow those young root systems to keep moist, and prohibit the sun from baking the leaves.  As long as we get enough sun to heat the soil and help those plants grow.  In our backyard, our tomato plants now range from a few feet to over four feet in height.  Things are looking good so far, as long as we can avoid the molds that sometimes come with the fog.  On the other hand, our broccoli and Brussels sprouts love this kind of weather.  So we split the difference.  At the local markets, we are starting to see the very first of dry farmed cherry tomatoes.  They don't have a whole lot of bang yet, but they will be going off soon.  Hot house heirlooms have shown up as well.  Another new comer is green peppers.  But the reds and yellows are still a month or more off.  Basil has come in, so it is time to start thinking about all the great things you can do with that herb.  And the real excitement for me is that corn should be here by next week.  This is a killer time of year to make a salad, with just about everything you could desire being grown right here in California.

So in short: fog.  In the mornings pretty much everyone around the bay will have some sort of fog.  Heavy, low and wet along the coast.  Higher and cloud like in more protected areas like Palo Alto.  The most fog prone locations like Half Moon Bay, Monterey and the Sunset may not see the sun until Monday.  The luckier ones will see breaks in the grey cover starting in the late morning.  Mild air temperatures prevail.  Remember how I pointed out how awesome Santa Cruz was in January and how crapy it was in the Central Valley?  Well,   they have sunny clear skies expected for the next week and daytime highs in the upper 80s and low 90s.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Comes in with a Bang. June Gloom to be in Full Effect Soon.

In the sun, it feels like summer.  Rancho del Oso.
My neighbors went away on vacation and lent their home to a family coming from the central valley.  Upon arrival, they looked up at the foggy and cloudy sky and exclaimed - this weather is absolutely beautiful.  They could not have been happier to escape the heat that they have been feeling.  For those of us whole dwell here on the coast, we would not mind a bit more sun.  The past few days have given us a better taste of what is likely to come over the next month or so.  Fog has been slow to lift here in Santa Cruz, with the sun breaking out on the west side around noon, and not really at all in Aptos.  But that is soon to change.  With the sun out now, it should stay clear for the next few days as things begin to heat up.  What a way to start the summer.  At least for those of us on the coast.  You better like heat if you live inland.

The peak of this heat spell (sure, it would be considered an official heat wave in Modesto, but just a spell here in Santa Cruz) should peak on Tuesday, with daytime highs soaring into the mid to high 80s.  Along West Cliff Drive and on the beaches, one should expect about 80F.  Even downtown SF should see 80F, but as you head across town, the temperature will drop with mid 60s in the Sunset.  Elsewhere around the Bay, we could see things topping out in the mid 90s.  Saratoga, South San Jose and Concord are all expecting some heat - as will the usual hot spots.  Things are looking hot around Tracy (and Sacramento) where it will be in the mid 90s today, over 100F on Tuesday and not dropping back into the high 80s until at least Friday.  It will be even hotter in Fresno and points south.  Napa looks like it will also be getting several days in the 90s, starting with this afternoon.  On the other hand, Monterey will have a hard time getting out of the 70s and much time out of the fog.

Even in the gloom, Davenport is beautiful.
Let us talk fog for a moment.  We have a few factors contributing to the formation or lack of fog for this summer.  There is still a large pool of cold water just off the California coast.  As the usual summer high pressure presses east, but not quite over us, a gradient forms driving strong NW winds just off or across the coast.  This is often centered near Mendocino.  As the air passes over the water, it cools and is then driven in to the hot air over land.  The result is fog.  Ironically, this same wind, as it build through the day, is what will break up the fog, and allow us a few hours of sun.  While many call this June Gloom, it is nothing compared to what we had last summer.

Our very best weather is when the high pressure bubble on top of us, and we get warm mornings, hot days, clear skies and no winds.  We usually get some of this weather in August or September, but it is rare this early in the season, as the high is really just forming.  Remember, just a few weeks ago, this area was plagues by low pressure systems.  What is going to happen over the next few days is actually the opposite.  The low pressure that centers over the Southwest during the summer months is going to push north and move the gradient out to sea.  While low pressures usually bring rain, these form over the dessert and not the ocean.  So it will be dry. With this type of weather, things will heat up and be nice all the way to the coast, yet areas susceptible to fog (Sunset & Monterey for example) will see a much shorter period of sun and warmth.  And it will not result in a heat wave (3 day of 90F plus) for coastal locales such as Santa Cruz.  But it will be very nice.

When fog clears,  get out of the wind.  Rancho del Oso
My concern is what is going to happen as this low pressure retreats to Arizona.  The models actually have a small weak low pressure system pushing down the coast from British Columbia, brining rain by the weekend to Seattle.  Another, broader system may bring rain by late next week into Humboldt County and points north.  This could leave a lot of moisture just sitting off the coast as far south as Point Conception.  As the gradient begins to form near Mendocino this coming Thursday and Friday, winds will them be pushing moist, wet air over a cold pool of water and into what has become a very hot land based air mass.  This may be the start of the type of gloom we say last summer, as fog starts to stretch inland as far as the Altamont Pass.  Of course, many of you inland of the coastal mountain range will see the fog break on most days, but if you recall, July was very cloudy and cool.  Not so bad if you are trying to beat the heat.  Kind of sucks for my cucumbers and tomatoes.    Might need to consider a bok choy crop again this summer.  And for the folks in the foggier regions, they could go days, weeks or more without ever seeing the sun.  Of course, none of this is set in stone and we will need to see how the patterns set up.

And so, it needs to be mentioned that things will begin to cool around Thursday, and we should expect foggy mornings starting then and lasting at least through the weekend.  And it is not looking to get too cool, with low to mid 70s in Santa Cruz for next weekend.  You can add or subtract a few degrees depending on your location.  And the Central Valley remains pretty hot.  The long and short of it is: If you can get out and play on Tuesday, hit the coast.  It will be a pretty darned good day.  If you need to wait until the weekend, you may want to head inland and try something in the foothills. Or just go cruise around Napa where is should be the low 80s.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not Too Shabby. A Bit More Gloom and some Heat on the Way.

Climbing roses, climbing through trees in Rancho del Oso.
Today was nice in Santa Cruz.  So was yesterday, if you could wait for the fog to break and stay out of the wind.  One way to do that is to head up the coast and park at the bottom of Big Basin, across Route 1 from Waddell, and go for a hike.  It is about 6 miles from the coast, through Rancho del Oso and up to Berry Creek Falls.  The first five and a half you can do on a bike.  Once into the valley a few hundred yards, the typical northwest winds get blocked and you can feel the heat of the day.  You soon pass a working farm and enter the forest.  And flowers abound.  We have been taking the stroller up, and have yet to get in much further than a few miles.  I imagine the falls are still flowing well, as Waddell Creek has a pretty good flow in it.  It is really a great hike as you rise from sea level up into the redwood forest.  Give it a try.  And the parking is free.

Today's great weather will slowly begin to dim as we enter a cooling trend.  Another system passes to our north and east dragging with it some cold air.  Still, it will not get too cold, but we will be back in the 60s by Friday.  Of course the Central Valley has been hot.  Like 90s hot, and it will stay in the high 70s to 80s there.  But for us it will be some more fog and cooler.  The fog should be not be too bad and more of what we have had this past week.  Santa Cruz has seen the sun across town come out between 8am and 11am pretty much every day.  Areas of the city and Half Moon Bay have not been as lucky.

Old school gardening.  Rancho del Oso.
We do see a shift in the trend starting this Sunday.  Temperatures will rise dramatically from Saturday, perhaps 10F warmer.  In Santa Cruz we are expecting mid to high 70s.  The day will still start off foggy, but the sun should burn things off quick.  Expect even warmer temperatures by the middle of next week and a good chance for a few fog free mornings.  What we are seeing is a push of the low over the Southwest up and over our area.  This will drive a bit of a warm flow from the south, as well as push the marine layer further off the coast.  We may even finally see the wind go slack nearshore, making it feel warmer and allowing the surf crowd to spread up to breaks on the open coast.  A good probability of very nice weather for late June.  We will need to see how this pans out.

Surf begin to fill in today with a decent wind swell from the north and a semi solid ground swell from the south.  Things look fun over the next few days and even into the weekend.  More south, albeit a bit smaller, should arrive early next week.  If we are lucky, those winds will lighten up, the heat will pour in and it will feel like the California we see in Bay Watch.

Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz
As a note, there are quite a few flood watches and warnings up in the Sierra and foothills.  The warmer temperatures from the past few days have significantly increased snow melt and river flows.  Once you get down stream and toward the reservoirs, the flow is very much under control.  It is really in the high country and the smaller tributaries were we are seeing floods.  If you are headed in that direction, you should really check the NOAA site, and have an idea of what you are getting into.  You will especially want to use caution if you are planning to go hiking and camping this weekend. While things should moderate as the daytime highs become milder, you still don't want to get caught up in this stuff.  It is not just the currents but the fact that this water will be just a few degrees above freezing.  Hypothermia is not fun.   Expect flows to increase again next week as the real heat starts to hit us.

More of the same fog wise.  Cooler the next few days.  A rebound Sunday.  Sunny mornings and 80F are possible by next Wednesday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Waddell bluffs with shark ridden Ano Neuvo in the distance.
The early June storms pushed us in to the top ten snowiest winters on record.  Not too shabby.  As for water content, we sit at #13.  And as stated before, for June snowpack depth we are at #1.  This is what is allowing three North Lake resorts to plan on lift served skiing operations for the 4th of July weekend.  Kirkwood is the only on in the south who has announced operation plans with chairs 5 and 6 offering top to bottom skiing.  We'd been hoping they would spin 10, but you really can not complain to much when you can ski for the holiday.  2011/12 season passes are valid, or you can buy a lift ticket for $35.  At this point, still no word from Heavenly.  And please do not expect mid winter powder conditions.  Corn is best served with a cheap canned adult beverage.  Ride responsibly.  And if you just can't wait until July, Kirkwood is offering cat skiing.  $2500 for a day with up to 12 riders.  If you have the itch (and some coin to spend) they have a ride for you.  Or you can just self power and go out for a hike.

And that June Gloom.  Really, in Santa Cruz it has not been that bad.  The west side has been clearing to sun between 8am and 10am this past week.  The fog lingers a bit longer on the east side.  We see the fog bank trying to stay in place over the next few days, but the sun also is vying for position.  Basically, our weather is to stay the same as it has the last few days.  Of note, a greater chance of a sunny morning for Sunday.  Looks like morning fog through at least Tuesday.  The good news is a slight warming trend for the coast will put most locales in the low to mid 70s through next week, with Tuesday being the warmest, by a hair.  Nothing to hot expected in the near future, but if we evade the fog in the mornings, the middle of next week could offer up a few very pleasant days.  As long as that demon wind does not whip up too strong.

Just another West Cliff scene.
It has been a while since I gave a market report.  I think it has been worth the wait, because lots of goodies are coming into season.  We are still seeing peas, and fava beans have made a revival.  I harvested the last few pounds of ours on Thursday, as the plants were on their way out and I needed to make room for my cucumber, squash and bean seedlings.  Of course, all the old standbys are around like beets, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and the such.  Summer squash are beginning to show up with most zucchini and a few smaller yellow squash.  Stone fruit is starting to make some inroads with a variety of peaches, and some nectarines and plums.  And cucumbers.  Yes, local cucumbers are starting to show at our markets.  From a bit further away in the state, corn is becoming available, but prices are still pretty steep.  Also from the south we are starting to see cantaloupe and watermelons.  It sure is starting to look like summer at the market.  The only thing we are still waiting for is non hot house tomatoes.  It won't be too long.

Speaking of tomatoes, there has been some talk of another bad summer.  Some are even suggesting that the last two months have done a lot to damage to tomatoes.  I'd say that is the case for those at elevation, but not for us on the coastal level.  Even at 1000 feet, we had plenty of clod weather  this spring.  Combined with the wet and it is a perfect environment for bacterial speck, the disease that did a lot of damage last season.  If you think you may have a little of this, try a copper based spray.  And if you bought plants at Love Apple Farm, they have offered to replace any plants that got sick due to April's and May's weather.  That is more generous than the airlines.  In our backyard our plants are flourishing.  We grew from seed and picked up seedlings from LAF and New Natives.  We potted up the seedlings to develop their robust root system and put them in the ground between late March and lat May.  No fruit on the plants as of yet, but the Sungold already is about 3' tall with hundreds of flowers.  Give me a week of warm weather (say next week) and I expect to see fruit set.  We will need to watch that fog bank, as that is the biggest concern for us coastal growers again this season.  Pray for sun.

In short, more of the same through Tuesday.  A bit warmer each day through then.  Sun looks like to be the norm after that through the end of the week.  Daytime high temperatures hanging out in the low 70s.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hurricanes, Floods and Heat Waves. Just Not Here.

Bethany Curve foot path in Santa Cruz.
Summer is starting to come into the scene, just days after winter decided it was done with us.  Hurricane Adrian, the first of the east Pacific season, is churning off the waters of mainland Mexico.  It is headed north west, and should be sending waves to Baja Mexico.  Current forecast have it weakening and pushing west well before Cabo San Lucas, so you can still head south to get your party on.  In the Sierra, the deepest June 7th snowpack was recorded at the Donner snow plot.  What is most concerning about this, is that the summer solstice is just days away, when solar radiation and sun positioning is at its highest.  While we usually see most of our snow pack melt away in April and May, that was not the case this year.  In fact, snowpack gained a bit in many location, and barely dropped below 6500 feet.  So all that snow is likely to melt in large quantities over the next few weeks, as the cold air has finally moved to our north.  The Walker River basin is expecting floods this week, but other water ways in both Nevada and California could see significant bank breaches before July.  Luckily the reservoirs have been well managed and drained to accommodate increased flows - but this is a situation that has never before been tested.  And in case you need one more sign that winter has ended, the Central Valley is to heat up this week with high 80s and by next week we should see 90s.  And then there is the real heat wave over on the East Coast, where New England is seeing 100F plus day time highs.

But that will not be the case for those on the coast.  It looks like June Gloom started today, just as the last of the weekend's (and the past month's, or shall we say - winter's) storm passed to our east, allowing our usual summer high pressure to finally set up off the coast.  The pump of warm air from the southwest has started to warm up the airmass east of the Sierra and in the Central Valley.  This is bordering the cool air over the Pacific to give us fog.  The good news is that at this point it is just our usual fog bank.  The one that generally burns off by mid morning (unless you live in the Sunset, in which case it might burn off by sunset.)  This is not the heavy thick fog of last summer.  Yet.  We will need to watch closely and see how this develops over time.  In the meantime, we should expect foggy mornings along the coast, around the bay and in nearby low lying valleys.  Temperatures look moderate with overnight lows in the upper 40s to mid 50s and day time highs in the 60s to low 70s.  A bit warmer in the usual locations.  And a possible warm up for next week, especially in the Central Valley and Sierras (where it may be in the 70s, just a week after day time highs were in the 30s.)

Surfers find bit and pieces near Waddell.
Surf is on tap over the next week or so.  By winter standards, there is not much out there, but considering that it is June, things look pretty good.  The foggy mornings are not quite killing the strong NW winds, but it is almost calm on the open coast.  The points in Santa Cruz are pretty much protected through mid afternoon currently.  South swell continues through the work week.  The weekend ahead looks like another small one, but some NW wind swell brings relief for Saturday.  A very small south swell arrives on Sunday.  By late Monday we should see a decent NW 14 second period swell and on Tuesday another mid sized south swell arrives.  All in all, there should be something to surf through the next week.  This summer has started off well.  A good sized south swell arrived in mid May and we have had some sort of wave nearly every day since.

And we should make a note on the snow.  May had excellent skiing this year.  Perhaps the best May skiing ever.  There is a lot of snow up there right now, and June should be another good month.  If you are planning to get out for some hiking, be sure to bring with you snow pack knowledge.  With the massive amounts of snow, and the extreme day time heating that is the norm in June, we should see some decent wet slides over the next few days.  Along with that we can expect some massive cornice drops to occur through the next month.  It will be interesting out there.  If you can avoid the hazards, there will be plenty of very good skiing opportunities.  And rare June mountain vista.  Enjoy the deepest summer snow pack ever.  And look forward to an awesome river season as well.

Foggy mornings and windy afternoons.  That is what we have in store for the next week.  Not too cold or too hot, but a chance of mid 70s or higher for next week.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Snow Continues in the Sierra. Rain Clears Out on the Coast. Fog in the Long Term Forecast.

Sun breaks through the redwood canopy.
Today the Sierra are in the midst of a winter storm, as this past weekend's systems shifts east and drags cold air and moisture into the mountains.  Seriously, can you believe the lack of spring we have had this year.  I was in SF this past Saturday visiting some friends, and the only reason why I knew it was June was because when the rain clouds broke for a moment, and that sun poked through, it got muggy.  It almost felt like I was in New England with that combination of fresh rain and hot sun.  What a water year we are having as we have pushed past 150% for the year in several basins already with 4 months still left to go.

The radar was very active last night from the coast to the mountains in central California.  All of that action has shifted east with rain falling in the foot hills and snow at elevations about 6500 feet.  While this will certainly not be one of the biggest storms of the season, we can expect a foot or so of snow to fall above 8000 feet, especially in zones along the crest.  Tuesday, June 7th, will be a powder day.  Snow showers could linger for several more days, but warmer air will begin to move into the region.  Rain could fall up to and above 8000 feet on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Mammoth is still spinning their lifts daily through July 4th.  In the Tahoe area, you will need to hike for any turns between now and the holiday, but it for sure will be worth it tomorrow.  Expect that deep powder to change quickly to mank and then corn as the summer sun hits it.  Highs will be in the mid 50s at 8000 feet by Thursday.  And if you are driving up the hill in the next day to get the fresh, remember to be safe.  Carry chains, water, extra food and warm clothes.  It will be winter up there.

Dune flowers at Waddell Creek Beach, Santa Cruz
For those of us more inclined to stay down here and enjoy the emerging sun (or inclined to go to our regularly scheduled work day), the rain has abated.  A look at this morning's radar suggest that no more bands will pass through, although the day time heating may set up a brief squall, as there is still a lot of moisture in the air.  It will be typical, if slightly cooler than average for us down here after this morning.  Mid 60s. pushing perhaps the 70F mark by Friday in Santa Cruz.  The weekend looks like a slight cooling trend with 65 forecast for Sunday. A bit cooler in the city.  Warmer in the typical spots with mid 70s by Friday in San Jose, low 70s in Palo Alto and high 70s in Concord.  For the most part we should see sunny skies, but from Half Moon Bay to just north of Santa Cruz (and again in the southern half of Monterey Bay) we will see patching morning and evening fog.  But this is not the huge marine layer we saw last season.

Drift wood and surfers at the Parking Lot, Wadell Beach
But that same fog bank looks like it may be making a return some time in the coming weeks.  Besides all the water they provided, the recent storms have kept our usual high pressure at bay.  But it is not just the return of high pressure that has many thinking this will be a fog bound summer again.  Even though the central Pacific has water that is 7 degrees warmer than usual, just off the coast of California and Baja Mexico the water is cold.  3-5 degrees colder than usual.  Mix this with a forecast of significant warming (more than usual) of the Southwest, and much of that air being pumped toward and over the Eastern Sierra, and we have the perfect mix for fog development.  The same mix we had last summer.  So be prepared for another outbreak of endless fog.  There are several things that could still happen to keep the marine layer from building in so deeply, such as the position of the high pressure.  If we are lucky, it will push over land and east, keeping the hot air pump positioned over Nevada.  Ironically, with the fog not getting a chance to develop, we would be much warmer with this pattern.  But odds are low for that scenario.  So if you hate that grey, plan a trip somewhere to our north, east or up in a mountain.

Clouds clear out today.  Low to mid 60s all week, a bit warmer each day through Friday.  A bit cooler, but still clear for the weekend.  No real fog yet, but be prepared for a return of the grey.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mayuary has Come to an End. Juneary, June Gloom or Hot Summer Nights Up Next?

Three Mile Beach, Santa Cruz
May ended much colder than average, despite the great hot weather that we had for the first few days of the month.  And it was wetter than average.  This same sort of pattern hit the Tahoe region, keeping the snow pack fresh and deep for the past month.  In fact, snow pack depths are still slight greater than 100% of the April 1st average.  This is good news for two sort of outdoor enthusiast.  First, three Tahoe resorts have announced they will offer lift served skiing for the 4th of July weekend.  Sugarbowl will be open for pass holders only, while Alpine and Squaw will both be selling tickets.  Alpine is advertising top to bottom skiing off of Summit Six.  Not too bad of an offering.  Kirkwood will also offer some sort of lift service, but it may require some hiking off of and back to the lift, unless they plan to do some snow management at the base.  The other good news will be a later date (and the latest in over 40 years) of peak water flow for the rivers fed by snow melt.  There will be some serious kayaking and rafting available late through the summer this year.

And we are not out of the holds of winter just yet, even though it is June.  The good news is the fog has seemed to hold off on its usual death grip this time of year, and, in part, we can thank the continuos train of storms that have either hit us or areas just north of here for the past month.  These help clear the air.  The not so good news is this next round should be happening over this coming weekend.  Tomorrow should start off fair, similar to today.  Then it will begin to get cloudier, windier, slightly cooler and wet.  By midnight we should have a steady rain across the bay region, and that will stick with us through at lest late in the day Saturday.  The rain lightens up a bit, and offers a few breaks on Sunday, but it will stick around at least through early Monday.  Clouds break up by Tuesday, and while it will feel warmer due to the sun, it will not really warm up too much for at least a week.  So much for a big change by the 6th.  Still, there may be a few warm days around the 9th.  Models currently show a return to milder air soon after that and through mid month.  It will be an interesting June to say the least.  This weekend's storm should push us way about June's monthly average for precipitation.

Getchel's Cove, Santa Cruz
Cool and wet or not, the surf has been on tap as of late.  And should stick around for at least the next week or so.  The current south ground swell and north wind swell are both dropping in size, but this morning still saw plenty of head high plus waves up and down the coast.  Paired with a few hours of light to no wind, it was semi glassy out there.  More of the same tomorrow, albeit a bit smaller.  The north swell dwindles even more through the weekend, with a slight bump on Sunday.  The ground swell will die out as well, but Saturday morning could still have some decent waves.  Another round of north and south swell show up next Tuesday, keeping things in the fun size through middle of next week.  Get up early to avoid the winds and have more surf options.  Slight chance for off shore conditions on Sunday as this next storm passes out of the region.

It is June, and as I've said before, you should have your tomatoes in the ground by now.  If not, it is still worth it to get some going, as even with a smaller crop, there is nothing quite like a fresh tomato.  Other things you think about getting established well before Independence Day would include cucumbers, summer and winter squash, as well as string and shelling beans.  If you have not ready started things by seed, you may want to consider purchasing seedlings.  You can still start seeds on your own, but it would be a good idea to get things going soon, as the store bought seedlings tend to be from 4 to 8 weeks old.  As for peas, lettuce and other cool season crops, you will ant to avoid planting any of those in full sun.  The peas I started in January in the sunny and hot spot of our garden have produced well and still have plenty of pods fatting up on the vine, but the plant is not loving the bright sun.  Leaves are beginning to dry out, and things are dying back.  A great spot for the winter, but not so much these warmer months.  Find a location that gets a few hours of early morning light and shade during the hottest hours if you plan for a summer crop.  In short, get your gardens in shape now in order to enjoy a great fall harvest.

Another nice day tomorrow before we have a weekend on rain.  It will feel cool, but not as cold as the last storm we had.  Monday should have some lingering clouds.  Mostly sunny through next week, with still no sign of our typical oppressive marine layer.