Thursday, September 29, 2011

Low Fog Along the Coast. Rain on the Way. Cool and Clear to Follow.

Just a quick update this morning to report the low fog that drifted in last night.  I thought I saw patches forming last night near the cliffs around Davenport, but did not think much of it.  And eddy wind flow has aloud for fog to form and settle this morning in Santa Cruz.  The warm air and sun should burn through most of it pretty early, but small patches could remain through most of the day.  Inland, still expect you sun and slightly cooler than earlier in the week.

Been a good summer for these guys.  They like cool, damp weather.
Briefly, two days of low morning fog along the coast.  By Saturday, an approaching system will dislodge most of that fog and replace it with patchy clouds.  There remains a very very slight chance for a shower on Saturday.  Otherwise, the weekend looks to be nice, if a bit cloudy and cooler.  After today the immediate coast in SC will see highs dropping into the 60s.  That will be the case across town by the weekend.  Monday brings the first chance of rain, but most of this will stay north of SF.  Tuesday, especially in the afternoon, sees a greater chance of rain.  Wednesday starts off wet, but things dry through next weekend.  It will get sunny again, if a bit cooler.  Good chance for no fog.

Will update as we get closer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and the (not so) Ugly.

Welcome.  We are now experiencing autumn.  Another beautiful day on tap here in Santa Cruz.  It was cool and crisp this morning with clear skies.  Nice golden magic hour sunrise this morning.  Sure wished I was out and about with the camera, but lack of sleep kept the morning slow.  It is warming up quickly this morning, and we should easily break in to the 80s today.  You have to love this time of year.

Monarch Butterfly and Blackberries.  Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz.

The Good.  Looks like the fog is going to hold off for the near term.  That is very welcome news, as the grey had become tiresome.  And our tomatoes really just need some sunshine and a little heat to finish off well.  I don't really want to make any green tomato jam.  Or relish.  That does not mean we will not experience a cool off. Today is the warmest for the week.  Mid 70s to 80s in Santa Cruz.  Much warmer in the valley and usual protected zones.  A touch cooler in the Sunset.  But over all, very nice.  The beaches will see a developing se breeze, but not as strong as yesterday.  As the week progresses, there will be a slight dip in day time highs.  Low to mid 70s in Santa Cruz and by Saturday it may struggle to reach 70.  So get out there this week, and enjoy an afternoon while we still have them.  Dusk is creeping earlier, and soon we will fall back.

The cougar spotted bark of eucalyptus trees.

The Bad: Did you see what I said about Saturday.  Part of the reason why we will not see much fog is that two storms conspire to keep us sunny.  To our north, loosely organized systems roll through the Gulf of Alaska this week.  None are to dip as far souths as this past Sunday's system, which gave us a little rain.  And none are very strong.  But couple this will Hurricane Hillary off of Baja, and the usual fog machine has been turned off.  Now pair these systems again.  By Friday the Gulf storms will shift a touch south and Hillary will charge north.  By Saturday we see a chance of moisture being pulled off of Hillary by the system to the north.  Fo us, another slight chance of rain for the weekend.  But this should not ruin the entire weekend, and showers should be pretty weak and sporadic.  Okay, there is more.

In a few weeks there will be thousands fluttering.  

Storm colliding with the central coast still on track for early October.  Next week we could see our first real rain of the season around the 5th.  Still too far out to say with any confidence, but one model had 1.75 inches of rain for SF on day 8 (next Wednesday).  Most models show the storm moving fairly quickly, so rain begins around Tuesday and ends around Thursday.  Some forecast that the bulk of the storm remains to our north, resulting in a half inch or less of rain for the Bay Area.  Others have the southern tip of the center of the storm steam rolling us leaving over two inches.  Could be the first snow for the mountains.  Or, all of this could be off and this storm runs ashore in Washington, and have beautiful sunshine.  And good surf.  Which is much more typical for this time of year.

At rest, basking in the sun and sipping on nectar, among the berries and poison oak.  

The (not so) Ugly:  Monarchs are back.  Took a stroll through Natural Bridges yesterday.  Saw a single butterfly cruise overhead, so we headed down the boardwalk into the nesting grounds.  Always worth it this time of year.  Usually the butterflies dow not show up until October, but you can often find some early arrivals.  And it is quick.  Peaceful.  The crowds (of humans) have not showed up yet.  Try enjoying a little peace and quite down there over Thanksgiving Weekend.  Rangers say they are showing up a bit early this year.  In case you don't know, Monarch Butterflies make their winter home along the Central Coast in eucalyptus groves.  Natural Bridges has a great viewing location and can thousands and thousands of the insects blocking out sunlight, in the middle of the season.  You can also find many at Lighthouse Field, Lake Moran and really any location that has some eucalyptus, wind protection and sunshine.  Big Sur has some huge colonies.  Anyway, they are here.  Come out and enjoy them.

So, here it is.  Autumn.  Sun for through the work week.  Slight cooling, but general warm.  Slight chance of moisture for the weekend.  Otherwise partly cloudy to sunny.  Winter storm may hit the area next week.  Sun looks to return after that.  We will keep you posted.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rain Today, Sun Tomorrow, Fog by Midweek.

Really, that is all there is to say.  Today should continue nice, until the clouds start to move in.  There continues to be a slight chance of rain in the Bay Area.  About 20% chance for Santa Cruz, and a bit more for the city.  Marin is looking at about 50/50.  I hope you have taken care of anything that needs to be done before the rain.  No big worries if you have not, as this will likely produce only light showers for most areas south of Mendocino, but I would not be overly shocked if some hilly areas pick up half an inch.  

California Mudstone Cliffs, Waddell Creek, Santa Cruz.

After tonight, things turn pretty nice all across the region for Monday and Tuesday.  We can expect to see 80s on the coast by Tuesday.  Bring you shades and sunscreen, because it going to be a beach day.  By the middle of the week, a light, low marine layer should push into most coastal location, but zones along the Bay should be spared the fog.  For everyone not on the immediate coast, you can expect a warm up continuing through the week, with high 80s in many locations and some spots breaking 90.  Here in SC we will be back down to the 70s with fog in the mornings and sun in the afternoon.

Sailing near Steamers Lane, Santa Cruz.

Long term we are looking at another through moving into the PNW next weekend, with a front trailing as far south as Point Conception.  We will need to monitor, as there could be another chance of rain brewing.  The North Pacific remains active, but nothing like tis past week.  We will continue to see storms producing small surf for our region, and rain for British Columbia.  Around the 7th of October, we see models suggest a more significant trough setting up along the PNW coast, possibly pushing some cooler air inland, and again a chance for precipitation.  Still way to far out to say for sure, but the chances for rain are there.  Drive carefully, as the roads will be wet for the first time in months and the oil slicks will return for a bit.

EDIT:  Rain moved through Santa Cruz around 1PM today.  Nothing too significant, but enough to wet the roads, water the plants and get some water moving in the streets.  You may want to check out your rain gutters in the next week and clean all of the summer muck out of them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rain a Chance Sunday Night.

Title pretty much says it all.  We have a slight chance of rain coming in on Sunday.  Mostly along the coast north of San Francisco.  An approaching system coming out of the Gulf of Alaska and heading to the Washington coast will draw moisture from Hurricane Hillary up ahead of it.  This band will run into the California Coast somewhere north of Santa Barbara.  Most likely, this will occur late Sunday north of Bodega Bay.  But, it could come ashore through the Bay Area.  The main band will have a lot of moisture entrenched in it, and we could see over half in inch in many areas.  Side bands will create more sporadic showers.  Point is - be ready if there is anything you need to take care of.  As for the gardeners, I would not worry too much.  Chance are you will see no rain, or just a short shower.  I am not going to do anything to protect my dry farmed tomatoes, but that is just me.  A more cautious me would be building my autumn dry green house about now.

The first sizable north west swell of the season arrive on Thursday.  The crowds were pleased.

More later, but over the next few days we some some fog in the mornings, clearing to partly cloudy skies.  Some chance of thunderstorms today and rain Sunday.  Clearing to transitional fall weather after that.  Portland and areas north are definitely into a wet pattern

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taste of Fall

A moderately thick low fog moved into the coast this morning.  A cyclist was struck by a car north of Santa Cruz on Route 1, this morning.  Drive carefully.  Over the past few days we had a delicious taste of fall weather, with sunny mornings, calm winds and warm afternoons.  The beaches were packed from San Francisco, all the way down to Santa Cruz.  That is all changing today.  While the sun came out fairly early here in town, the grey is hanging tight on the north coast.  For the next several days we can expect an increasing marine layer and cool, damp mornings.  We might even see just a bit of precipitation.

Small surf and sunny days were the name of the game this past weekend.

Also in the news is the first real autumn swell of the season that is to arrive along our coast after sunset tonight.  This thing is not going to be Maverick's big, but it will be sizable.  Ocean Beach can expect to see waves exceeding ten feet.  The surfers are going to love it, and the viewing will be great.  As always, use caution when approaching the ocean during these large wave events.  People have been know to be swept out to sea, often during the first few swells of the season.  Expect some great action near Davenport, and down into town starting Thursday morning.  Waves will slowly subside through Friday and then hold over the weekend.  And more storms may be on tap for this next week.

Coastal moss loves the fog.
So the bad news is the return of the fog and cooler days.  This will stick around at least for the short term.  As more storms begin to move into the Gulf of Alaska, there is a chance that they will pull that marine layer back out to sea.  It is really only a matter of time.  Thursday will be cooler, and cooler yet for the weekend.  Santa Cruz could stay below 70F, and the fog could be in all day.  But conditions look to improve by the middle of next week.  And we are still seeing precipitation modeled for the beginning of the month.  Perchance October will start with rain.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011


The increasing gales in the Gulf of Alaska have sufficiently pushed down on the high pressure and turned off the fog machine.  At least for the next few days.  Today, the fog burned off before 9AM along the Santa Cruz County coast, and it is expected to remain that way through the middle of next week.  Hooray! This is a taste of what is to come.  And an added plus for you surfers.  We should have some small to moderate NW swell arriving by Monday.  It is almost like the real fall. But it may not last, so be ready for a bit more fog.

Foggy mornings down at the Boardwalk.

Overall, the models continue to suggest an increasingly active north Pacific.  The rain I mentioned for the PNW arriving Sunday will mostly be confined to Washington State and north.  No biggie.  It is still a southern encroachment of wet weather.  We can continue to expect an increasing chance of rain for the Bay Area.  Also, the long term models no longer have moisture riding into our coast for months end, but we still see a pool of rain just off the coast to our west.  We do continue to see a series of storms lining up in the Pacific for two weeks.  At the very least, these storms will send us wave.  Better yet, good waves.  Even better, they can turn off the fog machine.  And finally, they may give us rain.  But nothing is forecast as of yet.

Late day clouds above the Santa Cruz west side.

For the coming days, we can expect to see increasing warmth through Tuesday.  We will really see the effects along the coast, as the fog will remain at a minimum.  Even spots like Ocean Beach can expect sunny mornings for a few days.  Inland, things will heat up into the 90s.  Santa Cruz may see the 80s on Monday.  San Francisco should get well into the 70s.   Bring on autumn.  Things begin to cool a bit starting Wednesday, and we may see the fog pump turn back on by Thursday or Friday.  I don't really expect to see the marine layer get too thick and encroached will all the activity expected in the Gulf.  We will need to get a little closer and see how things play out.  For now, get out and enjoy this spectacular weather.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Models Suggest a Shift.

The sun actually came out a few mornings.
More of the same for now.  Chilly up in the city, where it is hard to find it pushing past 60F.  At least SC is still registering in the high 60s.  Over the hill it has cooled off well, as that marine layer crept inland this morning.  After the past sunny mornings here in Santa Cruz (except for right on the water's edge where fog still lingered), it seemed like this thing was going to push out.  Guess not.  We still have a week or more of June Gloom to enjoy, before the winds begin to change.  But at least this weekend will have a bit more sun and some warming.  More on that later.

What is exciting are the hot models.  Currently a weak low pressure system is falling apart and moisture is running up and down the Canadian coast.  Several weak systems follow its path, but by Monday the Jet Stream is to shift south, and a slug of moisture is headed south of the border.  The PNW has been having some drizzle due to fog and over riding moisture, but this should be different.  Several model agree on moderate to significant rain from the California border north on Sunday evening and Monday.  At the same time, a well organized, and moderate strong, low pressure system will be moving into the western Gulf.  This storm is to organize and drop to about 975mb by Tuesday, and it stays in place through Wednesday.  But the moisture from this storm shifts back north into Canada.  As that system dissipates, another rolls through the Gulf next Friday, and is modeled to get even deeper.  And then finally, as the month comes to a close a slug of moisture comes dribbling into Central California.  Nothing too dramatic, but rain none the less.  Of course, as we are dealing with seasonal change, none of this is likely to occur as currently forecast, except for a decent chance (say 50%) of moderate rain in the PNW this coming Sunday evening.

Steamer Lane was on the fog's edge.
The point is: things are beginning to move in the northern Pacific.  Our local high pressure will begin to feel the crunch.  As it does, the southwestern low will shift east.  Or out of the picture, and our fog machine will begin to turn off.  Each run of the models, this continues to look likely.  And there is a chance of rain by the end of the month.  It is not really worth giving a percentage at this point, but it is there.  Now is the time to start getting ready for our first real rain event since May (or June, depending how you think).  Look in the yard?  Anything need to get pulled inside?  And end of summer jobs need to be attended to?    Do you remember how to turn off or adjust the sprinkler system?  Start thinking about what you will do with your tomatoes if a real rain comes.  Green tomato curry, mmmm.

The Slot is made for south swells.  Santa Cruz waves are fun.
And for you surfers out there.  Or just you beach enthusiast.  Start thinking about cool, crisp and clear mornings.  Off shore winds that warm as the day continues.  Moderate and large swells coming from the north.  We should see some small north west swell later this week.  Just really short period stuff from the weak storm that was up there this weekend.  These next two systems should send us something a bit more significant.  Especially if they form as modeled.  Look for waves late next week and again around the 26th.  We could be in a for a decent dose of what fall will have on offer for us.  And if that seasonal shift actually begins as suggested, we may even be in for some good winds.  Get ready for the turn.

Okay.  So about that possible warmth for the weekend.  By Friday, the marine layer will be a bit weaker and staying out of the interior.  As it retreats to just along the coast, areas like Palo Alto and Walnut Creek will again see mid to possibly high 80s. And very little, if any, fog.  While fog is around in the early morning, sun should show and Santa Cruz might see the mid 70s; The city will break into the 60s.  So at least the weekend will be a bit nicer.  Until then, stay cozy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Variable Around the Bay. And Signs of the Turn.

Tomatoes are at the market.
Maybe it was the first redwood needles falling into the yard, or the strong south wind and sunny skies near Pigeon Point this morning, but the first signs or the turn of season are starting to show up around town.  The wisps of autumn was pronounced in the Pogonip earlier this week, under the oaks.  A center of low pressure was moving from east to west just south of us.  This is what is driving the southery gradient this morning and driving sub tropical moisture into our region.  And this is what is creating a slight chance of thunderstorms for the Bay Area, and slightly higher chance in the Sierra.  Not autumn per se, but a change in the pattern for sure.  And the official change of season is just ten days aways

Around the bay there is definitely a bit of variety.  The summit of 17 had a 90F temperature at around 4PM on Friday.  Same down in Los Gatos and just a few degrees cooler in Saratoga.  It was hot.  By the time we got to Santa Cruz things we looking more like 75F, and even cooler at the water's edge.  So if you are headed to the valley, dress lightly.  If you are coming to the coast, put on a puffy coat.  For real.  It is chilly over hear, even once the fog breaks.  If it does.  Today, Saturday, it does not look like we will see the sun at all.  And things are getting even cooler here along the coast.  High 60s for the rest of the weekend and by mid week we may only be topping out in the low 60s.  If you need to the sun, head inland.  Even getting just off the coast will give you a much better chance of sun and warmth.  This is certainly the time of year when the valley seems a bit more appealing.  Or you could just head up tot he Sierra and enjoy copious sun and mild warmth.

Just 'cause it is chilly, don't mean you can't Q up a burger.
Short term, the weather does not seem to have much of a change in it.  We should see a little cooling on the coast, and a bit more cooling in the valley (say only 80 in LG), but we are starting to see some seasonal change.  The high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska was short lived and a new smaller gale is forming to our northwest.  This will be another opportunity to produce some small NW mid period swell on Monday.  The low pressure remains in the Gulf, but becomes more dispersed and less organized.  But is stays up there.  And the long term shows more gales forming mid month starting around the 18th.  Again, more chance for wave production, but something bigger is happening here.  Most, if not ll of the moisture will stay north of the Canadian border, but this is not a summer pattern.  We are starting to see the slow change into fall and winter.  We hope to see the marine layer get moved out, and the typical sunny autumn weather to move in over the next few weeks.

This is our best time of year coming up.  The surf will become more consistent.  The wind tends to shift off shore.  The bike tracks are smooth and the air perfect temperature for peddling.  The harvest is in full swing.  The farmer's market has just about everything you will ever need.  And Empire apples just showed up this past week.  Yes, the best apple ever is back.  So get ready for our best time of year.  Summer in the Fall.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Big Waves and Continued Fog

Pink Ladies on Fair Street in Santa Cruz
The good news is we are going to see a slight warming trend through Tuesday.  The bad news is the fog layer does not seem to want leave, and we cool off later in the week.  Things remain pretty grey along the coast.  High temperature for Sunday should be in the low 70s in Santa Cruz, topping out near 80 for Tuesday.  Things take a dip and we are back into the high 60s by Friday.  Essentially, not much a change here in Santa Cruz for the near term.

The big news around town is the massive south swell that started impacting the central coast late on Wednesday.  This swell built through Thursday and seemed to peak early Friday morning.  And it was producing 12 foot waves in many locations.  Great for surfers, but not so much for home owners who are in areas of minor flooding.  The swell is subsiding, but there will still be great waves through the rest of the holiday weekend.  If you are not a water person, it is still best to stay on land.  These long period swells can have long lulls, and the sets can come out of no where.  Quickly.  Don't be caught off guard trying to get a good picture and get swept into the ocean.  It may be summer, but it is still cold.  But, if you want to watch some surfing, come to Santa Cruz and watch the Lane or Pleasure Point.  They are going off.

Kids playing along West Cliff on Tuesday, before the swell.
Still on track in the forecast is a strong storm moving into the Gulf of Alaska by Monday.  This storm is modeled to have a central low pressure of 960mb.  Pretty impressive and organized for early September.  This storm will also produce some decent size waves for our area.  It should clear out by the middle of the week, and high pressure tries to take hold.  More stormy weather should be moving from west to east across the north Pacific.  None of these systems are forecasted to be any south of Canada, and many are to drive north into the Alaskan panhandle.  Still, it is noteworthy (and not just for surfers) as it is a sign of the change of season.  And as these storms play around with the usual summer high pressure, we may be lucky enough to see the marine layer move away, and the sun come out to play.  I like sunny mornings.

In short, more of the same for now.  But things are moving to our north, and fall is knocking on the door.  Soon it will be time to pull out the rain gear and wax up those skis.  Get your summer outings in now.