Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dipping South.

Did you notice it today.  Crisp.  Windy.  That storm system that is hitting the PNW did a good job of carving a bit further south than expected.  In fact, it is much further south than yesterday's projections.  What that mean for us here in Santa Cruz is mostly cooler, breezier weather.  But there now looks like there is a slim chance for some showers tonight and into tomorrow.  For sure we are expecting some gloomier weather tomorrow.  We could even be stuck in the 50s.  Further, it will hinder are warming trend, keeping us in the low 60s for Thursday.  With some luck we will get into the mid or even high 60s by Friday.  If you are looking to see a 70F reading, good luck.  If I were you, I'd head to one of our warm winter regions around here.  Pinnacles National Park would be my best best.  Find a nice, protected southerly rock slope, and sit like a lizard in the sun.

Sunsets in the mountains are going off.  West Slope, Sierra Nevada, California.

Chances now look likely for snow in the Sierra.  This will really be only a dusting.  With some luck we will see an inch or two of snow by Wednesday afternoon.  Still, even just a bit of some fresh snow on top of our base will do wonders for the surface conditions.  Yes, it will still be crusty and icy in most spots.  But in those little dips, and gullies that catch snow, we could see a smooth, chalky surface develop.  And one of the best things about low tide is all the dips and gullies that have yet to fill in.  And it will improve the groomers drastically.  So, pray for snow.  Even just a little bit.  Mid 40s and sun return for the weekend.

Of course, down here on the coast, they ain't half bad either.  Cowell's Point, Santa Cruz, California.

Rain is a bit more likely in San Francisco and points north, than down here in the Cruz.  Still, we are only really looking at about a 30% chance.  As you move north, and east, chances improve.  Sacramento has about a 50/50 chance.  Unfortunately, it does not look like this storm will be turbulent enough to kick out the inversion.  So, thick, mean fog returns right after the rain for the Central Valley.  Some sun perhaps for the weekend.

We are still looking at a dry period for the mid term forecast.  This one system does not change much.  But this is the type of stuff we can expect to happen until the next pattern change.  Remember how I said this dry pattern is different than the one we had from Thanksgiving until 10 days ago.  This one is not so bomb proof.  Little parts of storms can press down on it, or sneak in underneath.  This is what we can still expect through the middle of next week or further.  Mild and dry with a few clouds.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A warming trend through the week. Fab weekend to start the month.

New snow in the Cirque, Kirkwood, California.
As we close out January of 2012 things are not quite as dry as we started the year.  That is a good thing for snow recreation and for our water issues.  Still it was a much drier month than typical, in a season that is now not the driest (to date) on record.  But we are close.  It looks like long term things could change during the second half of this month.  But, of course, that is merely fantasy speculation and best guessing.  We will need to get through the first full week of February before we have any real indication of what is to happen next.  But down here on the coast we are looking at mostly high quality outdoor weather for the next 10 days or so.

This Monday started out with some mid level clouds and a cool morning.  The day will warm to about 60F, and this should be what we see the first half of the week.  As we move through and toward the weekend, we should see a bit of warming and fewer clouds each day.  By Friday it should be clear and pushing the high 60s.  With some luck we could see 70F, but I'm not placing any bets.  Regardless, it will be spectacular outdoor weather the second half of this week.  Storms are moving across the coast and inland well north of us.  That is what will bring our cloud cover the first half of the week.  By Thursday, most storminess will stay north, in Canada.  Up in Tahoe there should be a warm up as well, with high 40s and low 50s by the weekend.  And they need it.  With that last rainy system that came through the snow surface has built up a pretty solid crust.  That means mostly icy until the sun and daily warmth soften things up.  Follow that sun, look for south facing slopes and enjoy some off season corn while we wait for a refresher.  I'll get a post up at Powder Happy later this week.

Last call Friday night at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, California.

If you are more into surfing come these days, you have something to look forward to.  A fun sized long period swell fills in today.  Should be overhead for the most part by afternoon.  South facing spots will get the wrap, but will lose some size.  With the northly winds out there, it may be worth it.  On Wednesday a meaty long period swell arrives.  Things start to show overnight with 22 second periods.  8@18 for Wednesday, and dropping from there.  That still means 15' surf for Wednesday, 12' on Thursday and 10' on Friday.  And get this.  Winds get lighter after today and are shifting to out of the east by the middle of the week.  Thursday looks like the best for offshore conditions.  By the weekend, surf continues to drop and afternoon north winds look likely.  But this is an excellent week to surf.  Think about it.  Twelve foot plus, offshore winds and 68F at the beach on Thursday, February 2nd.  Sounds good, eh?

So, the news.  Some clouds and 60F.  Abut 40F overnight.  Dry.  Fewer clouds, more sun and 68F by the weekend.  Continued dry through at least the 8th.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Some interesting weather going on. Still, pretty much sunny.

So I was a little caught off guard by the significance of the swell event yesterday.  I guess I was so happy about the snow we had just see fall, that I had my back turned to the ocean.  Never do that.  Around noon yesterday, Third Reef at Middle Peak was topping and breaking.  Really just a mountain of crumble, but a few sets broke way out in there in the Bay.  Impressive as always.  Things really dropped as the day continues, with mostly overhead waves.  Don't get me wrong, there were still a few bombs at Middles through sunset, but nothing like mid day.  Anyway, the moral here is never turn you back on the ocean.  Especially if you were one of those people climbing around the cliff bluff to get a better view.  Be careful.

Lower Sentinel, Kirkwood.  The first few feet has fallen.  This is about halfway through the storm cycle.

You may have noticed a foggy layer along the coast yesterday.  It actually felt like summer.  Kind of.  It warmed up quickly in the morning, then a fog bank moved in and cooled it off some.  The same moisture associated with the marine layer here on the coast fed some fog and drizzle up into the Sierra.  Not ideal for great powder skiing this weekend.  If you are headed up do not fret.  The skier packed snow will be firm in the mornings, but warm (40-50) and sunny weather on tap should really help soften things up.  Follow the sun as much as you can, just like in spring.  Groomers will soften up sooner.  The untracked snow in the sun will likely be corning up earlier.  Wait too long, and you'll get glop glue.  In the shade, the untracked might be crusty.  Especially earlier.  But you might still find some dense powder like snow in areas that you penetrate the crust.  All in all, some good options for skiing this weekend.  Just not quite as good as if it stayed cold and dry.  But way better than it has been.

Keeping an eye on the landing zone.  Sentinel Bowl, Kirkwood, California.  Snow has finally arrived.

Warm weather is expected as well, down here on the coast, as soon as all the thick fog clears.  That stuff really rolled in last night.  Like I said, almost feels like summer.  There is still a good chance to hit 65F in Santa Cruz, although really, it might be a touch cooler.  Still some fine weather for the end of January.  And light wind as well.  Mornings will see some very light off shore breezes, and that will slowly turn out of the northwest and increase to, say, 7 knots.  Waves will be fun this weekend, generally in the head high plus range up north and chest high in town on Saturday, and half that size on Sunday.  This would also be a great weekend to hike somewhere.  As has been noted, the waterfalls are working again, and Yosemite is priceless right now.  If you are headed north or east, you will be looking at a chance of rain for later on Sunday.  Another system punching through the PNW will drag its bottom across our region.  For Santa Cruz, this just means cooler, cloudier weather.  SF looks to stay dry.  Showers for the north coast, and flurries for Tahoe.  Maybe.  If anything, light accumulation.

Things begin to bounce back to the sun and warmth regime by Tuesday.  And chances are good it continues through the first weekend of February.  There will be systems to our north through next week, but it does not currently look like they will break south.  So, nice for now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Glorious winter days. At least for now.

This is going to be a good period in Santa Cruz.  Day time highs reaching into the mid 60s and abundant sunshine makes for some wonderful days to close out the work week and continue through the weekend.  In fact, it looks like we have at least another week of this great weather on tap.  I mentioned a slight chance for showers later this week, due to the local high pressure bubble shifting north and slightly west, allowing for the storm door to creak open.  It still looks like that will happen, but that door is going to shut almost as soon as it opens.  It really does not look like anything will make its way to Monterey Bay, but there is still a slight chance for showers north of San Francisco and some light snow in Tahoe.  Hey, we will take that inch and be happy about it.

Blue winter sky.  And naked tree branches.

So, what could you do with this fine weather.  Of course, there are the usual outdoor activities like surfing (some moderate swell this week), hiking and biking.  But with this recent rain, moist soil and warming days, this is an excellent time to sow some seeds, or plant some seedlings.  What I am thinking about is mostly lettuces, spinach and other leafy plants.  You generally want to start these guys up in the pleasant periods between the cold and rain during the winter.  Just after the rain is perfect, as they will need the soil to remain moist until established.  In fact, it is even a good idea to keep the soil moist once established to give them a chance against the cold.  Get some lettuce started now, and you will be eating house salad in a few months.

Looking at the long term, there is a bunch of dynamics going on out there.  While it may seem we are right back in the pattern we were in during December, that is not quite the case.  As early as late next week, we could see some blocking setting up, and a wet pattern returning.  This is all still a ways out, but  all I am saying is do not put down your guard.  It will be a glorious week ahead, and that may continue, or it may not.  More on all that later.  For now, plan for a great weekend.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Well, that is about over. Back to our regularly scheduled sunshine.

This guy again.  Always posing.
Don't get me wrong.  I like the rain.  I love the snow.  And besides, we need it.  But, that does mean to say that the brilliance of the previous 6 weeks of winter were not much appreciated by me.  And, as I am a bit bummed that the storm track is moving north, I really can't complain about the pending sun, light breezes and warm days ahead.  So, I say bring it, and I'll enjoy some more of the best days of winter.

Today's system is already shifting east and breaking up.  Sporadic showers could continue through the day, but they will become less frequent, shorter in duration and battling the parting clouds.  Another great sunset should be on tap this evening, and it looks like the commute home should chance upon dry.  Well,t he roads will be wet, the visibility should be good.  By tomorrow we will see more sun than clouds and we will be bouncing back into the 60s.  Wednesday look the warmest on the coast (65F), with the foothills and Tahoe (54F) getting their warmest on Thursday.  There does look like a slight chance for showers by the weekend, but that is not looking likely at this point.  Probably we will see mostly sun, with some clouds and low 60s.  Nights are cool in the high 30s.  Light winds through the period.  An inversion is looking like it is going to set up, so expect colder air in the valleys and warmer temps up top.  Also plan for thick fog layers to sit in valleys, especially the Central Valley and setting up visibility issues.  As a note, Yosemite should be looking awfully super cool this week with fresh snow, valley fog and brilliant sunshine.  Awfully super cool.

Oh so Santa Cruz.  A winter's rose.  And a unicycle.
Speaking of awfully super cool, the ski season has been jumped started.  At least at Kirkwood where there is first hand knowledge.  This first set of storms has done an excellent job of spackling the mountain and covering just about every nook and cranny.  It is still very low tide out there, but what is covered is covered.  I imagine much of the same at other resorts.  Last night and today should see another 18"-32" out there.  This stuff is quite a bit lighter, but will do a great job of supplementing the already bomber Sierra Cement base.  So, if you were on the fence about getting out there this year, you may want to at least check it out.

Rain stops today.  Sky clears tonight.  Sunshine and warmth for the rest of the work week.  Very slight chance of showers during the weekend.  Fair weather likely to continue.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That broke up nicely. The next one looking like it is getting stronger.

This guy has been wintering along West Cliff Drive.  
Today is quite nice out there.  It even started out pretty good.  Sure, we had a few showers during the morning hours, but there was more sun than rain here in Santa Cruz.  The afternoon is staying fairly cloudy, but it does look like the showers have come to an end.  For now.  This will be a great evening for a sunset stroll with an ocean view.  Tumultuous seas and a cloudy horizon should offer up some nice sunset watching.  If you are planning for an outing tomorrow, get on it early.  This next system seems to have split in two, allowing for the first wave to come a bit earlier and the second wave to last a bit longer.  More on that below.

As for the Sierra, this system did not quite pack the cold that was anticipated.  Snow levels stayed pretty high through the evening hours last night allowing all rain below 8000 feet.  Above that is was really a snow/rain mix until the temperature began to drop around 10pm.  The result is both good and bad.  Sure, snow totals were a lot less than hoped for (ranging from 6" @ 7500' to 18" @ 10,000') but the snow that did fall is certified Sierra Cement.  Exactly what we need to get our base going.  It would have been much worse to have 40" of blower that would just not stick to the earth and stone.  So, lees snow than expected, but the perfect base building material.  And today, snow continues with colder temp, so the surface is improving.  We could see another foot plus from this next system, so when all is said and down, we could be seeing totals of 4 feet at the higher elevations and 18" at lake level.  Not a huge snowfall, but enough to kick start the season into gear.

Anyway, the storm coming in tomorrow now looks a bit a head of schedule, with rain beginning in the city by noon.  Of course, this is just an estimate, or best bet.  But if you do have outdoor activities planned, it would be best to be out early and enjoying the morning.  Rain spreads south and east through the day, with the first wave of the storm filling in through the afternoon and evening.  It now looks like this system could pack quite a punch with another few inches of rain.  The bulk of the precipitation will be along the Mendocino coast where over 2 inches may fall.  San francisco is looking one and half inches and here in Santa Cruz we could see just about an inch.  All in all, fairly wet.  Like I said, this thing is coming in two waves and the second should hit us in the early morning hours of Monday.  The biggest change to the forecast is that it now looks like clearing will need to wait until overnight on Monday or early Tuesday.  The good news in all this is (1) the much needed water and snow and (2) the warming trend that will follow mid week.  And current long term is looking dry and clear.

Storm clouds riding up over the mountains and the Monterey Peninsula.  

So, after a nice morning, rain fills in quickly along the coast on Sunday.  This persist through Monday, with showery weather for the evening commute.  Tuesday should have breaking clouds and by Wednesday we should be planning for sun and mid 60s.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It is raining. For real. Finally.

The past few weeks have been spectacular.  A little rain is okay.  Waddel.
What feels like the first real rain storm of the season is now in full effect.  Two cars were totaled just south of the fish hook on Route 1.  Urban flooding could be seen on the streets and in parking lots.  One got very wet walking from the front door to the car today.  And it is still coming down.  Well, actually, we have a little break happening right now.  But the winds are starting to whip up, and the rain should come back in earnest soon enough.  Tonight could be quite tumultuous.  Not really a night for a star lit stroll on West Cliff Drive.  Maybe take in a movie.  Or cozy up at home.  Oh, wait.  There it is.  Rain pelleting the window once again.

Up in the mountains, a few inches of wet slush fell across the higher elevations.  Essentially, it has been raining below 8000 feet.  Snow levels are creeping up this evening, but are expected to crash over night.  By midnight, it should be snow at lake level.  Plan for some nasty weather to continue in the morning, with 100mph ridge gust and white out conditions.  When things begin to settle down in the afternoon, we could be looking at about 30 inches above 9000 feet, and 10 down around 6000 feet.  Could be enough for 1/2 price soup at Freshies.  Barely.  But we will take what we can get.  If you are headed up there, please be careful.  Sure, you know about the road.  But on the slopes as well.  Plenty of obstacles will remain and avy danger will be a reality.  Stay inside the open areas in the resorts.  Sunday looks like a good day in  the mountains, with parting clouds and lighter winds until the next system shows up late in the day.

Down here, you can expect a rainy morning on Saturday, with still a strong south wind.  Things improve a bit as we move to afternoon.  Perhaps showers, perhaps a break in the clouds.  Could be a good sunset.  Later in the day a fairly large swell should arrive from the WNW.  It is basically victory at sea out there, so not really ideal from a surfing perspective.  If you must, find a well sheltered zone.  Still, a breaking storm, with crazy seas, the viewing will be pretty spectacular.  Don't expect much warmth, as we may not break past 55F this weekend.  Sunday is just about the opposite.  It will start out nice, but clouds and rain return by the evening for another round of storms.  This one will not be quite as strong, but will likely impact the Monday morning commute.  The rest of the day is dedicated to clearing of the storm, with more tranquil weather to follow through mid week.  In fact, it will be quite nice by Wednesday with mid 60s and mostly sun in the forecast.  And more swell fills in with possible offshore winds to boot.

A few late day waves before the storm came in.  Waddel Creek, Santa Cruz.

So, we are getting primed right now for some much improved skiing and waterfall viewing.  Surf will be big but stormy for the next few days, with noticeable improvement by the middle of next week.  A few more days of rain before a return to nice warm sunny weather.  You got to love our winters.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Clouds this morning give over to rain. A chance at a break on Sunday.

It has felt like an endless summer around here.  Waddel Creek.  
11:50AM Edit:  It looks like rain has moved ashore just north of Pt. Reyes.  Expect that to fill in and move southeast.

Low lying clouds are the name of the game this morning, making for a pretty darn nice sunrise.  A rather crisp one at that.  Cold morning temps hung around again this morning, as a clear sky until just before sunrise aloud for another night of cooling.  But it was just a wee bit warmer today.  There was not quite the same thick layer of frost we had the past few mornings.  But what about the future?  Northern California is already in the grips of heavy rain.  That entire system is edging south today, and will be filling in through the afternoon and evening.  Areas north of SF can expect rain as early as the lunch hour.  As we move south toward Santa Cruz, the evening commute seems likely to be wet.  Big Sur will need to wait until after night fall.

Round One is not super crazy heavy.  But it ain't just light showers either.  Plan for moderate rain over night and through the Friday morning commute.  And it will be a bit cooler than previously stated.  Doubtful we will get out of the mid to high 50s on Friday.  Overnight looks high 30s Thursday, maybe 40 on Friday and dropping to the mid 30s for Saturday night.  As for that rain, things will begin to settle down in the late morning Friday.  But not for long, as Round Two is following close behind.  This could give us some heavy rain for the evening commute on Friday.  Be careful out there, as it is Friday, there will be lots of folks on the road.  I imagine some will even try to get up to Tahoe Friday night.  Silly folks.  Rain continues through the night and into the day Saturday.  Saturday looks like a great day to cozy up inside.  If you have a fire place, you may want to get it stoked.  We are making Turkey Pot Pie for dinner on Friday to warm those bones.

Waiting for a blanket of snow.  Red Lakes Peak, Carson Pass in the background.  Whiskey Slide, Kirkood.

By late in the day Saturday, things again begin to die off.  Breezes and rain will lighten.  Overnight we could see just a few showers, and Sunday could break with just a wee bit of sun.  It is looking like this is your day to get outside.  If you know where the waterfalls are, you may want to take a hike.  Wear good waterproof boots though, as the ground is gonna get soggy.  If you want to day trip to ski, I'd suggest Sunday, as the winds will be lighter and there will be a break in the storms.  Saturday should be fun as well, but full on storm riding and driving.  And the winds may keeps some lifts on hold.  But more on Tahoe later.  Enjoy Sunday, because it looks like Round Three will be moving in on Sunday night and into Monday.  Round Four may stay north of us, or it could provide more rain through the first half on next week.  After that, it looks like the second half of next week, and the weekend, could be clear with some warming.  Like mid 60s by next Friday.  With sun.

So, if you are a snow enthusiast, you should be stoked.  Sure, the forecast for snow amounts has dropped over the past few days, but we are going to get like an huge increase in our natural snow pack.  Reasonably, we could be looking at a foot around the lake, 2-3 feet at the resort bases and 4-5 feet at the summits.  Is that enough to open all the raddest terrain?  Probably not, but if you are extreme, you like low tide anyway.  Right?  Regardless, by Sunday morning, we should see way more terrain starting to open in Tahoe.  Enough snow to cover most of the sticks and stones.  And it is starting off pretty wet, so we will get that stuff nice and plastered.  And it will be a good start on the steeps and exposed terrain.  Regardless of what we get, have fun, and play safe.  It will still be early season conditions once this system moves through.  And if you are planning to drive up, be safe.  And remember that Friday night will be a shit show, with crowded roads, inexperienced drivers, strong winds and heavy snow.  If you must ski Saturday, at least the roads will be way less crowded in the pre-dawn hours.

Calm weather and a clear sky will not be the name of the game over the next five days.  Ano Nuevo.

So.  Rain fills in today.  Moderate, and falls over night.  More rain fills in tomorrow.  Heavy, and falls overnight.  Tapering some time on Saturday, probably late.  Sunday will see breaks of sun, but there could be some showers.  Plan to head outdoors, but be prepared with a shell.  More rain Sunday night.  Clearing probable on Monday evening, but another round may keeps us wet through Wednesday.  Clear and warm for a few days, at least, after that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wait and see.

A clear sky sunset will be rare in the coming week.  
Do you feel like it is winter finally?  That would be the frosty mornings we have been having.  And that crisp north wind that filled in over the past few days.  Signs of things to come.  So, today we have a few last minute reminders.  First, turn off that sprinkler and irrigation system for the time being.  You can wait another few days if you'd like, but once that rain really begins to fall from the sky, this would be a good year to conserve some water.  With luck, we could end up within 20% of average, but there is just a good of chance that this year will return us to drought.  Have you seen Lexington Reservoir?  It is nearly empty. Like actually empty.  When we return to another dry cycle, if you really need it, you can turn them back on.  But it looks like this cycle will really moisten the ground.  With the low sun of winter, it could be all that we need for a while.  On the other hand, we could get another series of wet and turbulent systems after this one.  With this much going on right now, there is really no point at looking at the long term models.  Solutions will have little reliability until we move through all the weather we are expecting this week.

The other thing to think about, when the rain comes, is anything that would collect standing water and allow mosquitos to breed.  Flower pot trays for instance.  Watering buckets.  Top Soil bags.  In short, clean up the yard and put things away.  That also goes for things you do not want to get wet, such as the patio seat cushions you have been enjoying the warm afternoons in.  Put it away.  And get ready for some more wind. It could get strong.  Which reminds me.  All that wind we have had since the last real rain has probably blown down some more leaves.  And could have filled your gutters.  You may want to find time this evening for a quick cleaning of any of the pathways water will take to flow off your home and property.  You don't want any local flooding.  If your a good citizen, you could make sure the street drain near your home is clean, clear and ready to take water.

Think about making some comfort food.  Turkey Pot Pie is on our menu for later this week.  You will want to stay cozy, as the rain continues to look likely.  The real heavy stuff will stay well north of us.  Up around the Oregon border.  They could be looking at 10 inches of precipitation by Monday morning.  Down in our neck of the woods, the numbers range from just about an inch at Hearst Castle and over three inches in Santa Rosa.  Generally, the further south you go, the less rain you get.  Dramatically.  San Diego looks to stay dry through this period.  Tahoe might get 3 1/2 inches.  Higher along the Sierra Crest.  Quite a bit less as you head south toward Mammoth Lakes.  Regardless, for those of us around the Bay we are expecting about 1.5-2.5 inches.

Late day waves near Ano Nuevo Island.  Calm evenings were the name of the game for the past six weeks.

Exact timing will remain a mystery until we are within 24-36 hours.  The further north and west you are, the earlier the onset.  Still looking like showers will begin late tomorrow for the northern reaches of our area, and spread south through the morning Thursday.  Santa Cruz could be lucky enough to avoid rain until Thursday afternoon.  Once it starts, it looks fairly constant through sometime on Saturday.  That second wave will be soon on the heels of the first, with little to no break in between.  So rain essentially through the weekend, and to start next week.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Freezing times and flood gates.

Sunsets are about to get a whole lot cloudier.
It is freezing.  When I got out of the water this evening, my hands began to hurt on the way to the car.  I should have worn gloves.  And it was even in the afternoon.  Freezing temperatures are the name of the game the next two mornings, even right down along the coast.  Forget about it in the Central Valley, where lows are hanging out in the 20s for four or more hours.  Geez.  Don't forget to grab some gloves for your morning commute.  Days are quite a bit cooler than it has been for the last month.  I mean, did you feel the pattern change?  Sure, the sun is still out, but this is a whole different weather pattern than we have been seeing.  This one comes from the Arctic.  And that sun won't be out for long.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be your last mostly sunny days for some time.  Get done what you need to get done.  By later int he day Wednesday rain will begin moving down from northern California.  It will fill in from north to south.  The air temps will be a bit warmer, especially at night.  By Thursday night we can expect lows only dropping to 40F and high reaching for about 60F on Friday.  Light to moderate rain will become heavier and more widespread on Friday.  Saturday could be a touch cooler, but with some breaks in the weather, as the rain returns to a more showery condition.  But don't expect much in the way of sunshine.  Still, could be light enough for some hikes to the newly formed waterfalls.  Another system will approach by late on Sunday and good chances for another around Tuesday.  At this point the Sunday storm looks colder and stronger.  Looks like things will clear by middle of next week.

Of course, details and timing will adjust as we move closer.  But the jist of it is rain is coming for the next week.  All told, it looks like up to two inches of rain around the Bay by late Saturday and maybe another two by Tuesday.  Even more after that.  This is by no means an epic run of rain, but by far the biggest we have seen this season.  We could see some brief periods of minor urban flooding.  Commutes will be slower and more challenging beginning Thursday.  And for the ski season, this is big news.  It will definitely be better than it has been.  The Sierra Crest and Tahoe could see upwards of five feet of snow.  Enough to give us at least a little bit of a base.  So get ready for a change of pace.

Cool and clear through Wednesday.  Rain then lasts for a week.  Perhaps some breaks, but cool and wet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Colder. And soon, much much wetter.

Things will start to cool off quite a bit this evening and tomorrow, after what was another beautiful day.  In fact, days like today will seem a wonderful memory after a few weeks of what is to come.  First, we start off with increasing chilly evenings.  Sunday morning may bottom out just above freezing right along the coast.  Move inland just a bit and it looks like a solid frost is in order.  Elevated valleys along the coastal range, like Scotts Valley could see temperatures dropping into the low 20s.  That could me some black ice on the roads at sunrise.  Mid to low 50s should be the highs on Sunday, with an even cooler day on Monday.  A bigger issue will be the coastal morning lows dropping below freezing by Monday morning, with Tuesday morning look the coldest.  Maybe high 20s in Santa Cruz for Martin Luther King Day.  And breezy to boot, with all that Arctic air moving into our region.

Old tractors and farm equipment at Wilder Ranch.  A great spot for biking and strolling in Santa Cruz.

So the next step is some rain moving in.  By Wednesday, the daytime highs will be reaching into the high 50s with lows backing back to the mid to high 30s.  So not quite as cold as, but it will be damp.  Still looking like the area north of San Francisco will see rain moving down the coast on Wednesday.  By Thursday rain should move south past Monterey and snow up in Tahoe.  Speaking of which, this wave looks warm, so we should get some heavy, wet, good base building snow.  Thank you.  Another wave passes through Friday into Saturday, with a good chance of a third Sunday and into the first part of next week.  Long term models are suggesting more wet weather to follow.  So while it will be cool, or even cold, the rest of this weekend, get out there and enjoy what sun we have left.

To wrap this up tonight, cold and sunny for a few more days.  After that it gets wet.  Transition day on Wednesday and rainy through the rest of the forecast period.  We will get a better handle on how wet, and any breaks in the weather, as we get get closer.  Best advice is to get you sun, because it could be wet for an extended period.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Going Zonal!!!

Coastal cypress at Lighthouse Field, Santa Cruz.
Hey folks, gear up for some good old fashion winter zonal flow.  Yup, that is right.  Rain.  Do you remember what that stuff is like.  Obligatory road caution here:  It has been over six weeks with no rain, and oil has again had a chance to build up on our roads.  It will be slippery out there when this stuff starts, and the usual kooks will still be on the road.  Give yourselves ample time  and ample room.  And if you plan to chase after the snow carry chains, water, food and clothes.  And remember that under the fresh snow will be grass, dirt and rock.  Be careful.

So this thing is progressing a bit quicker than it looked yesterday.  And I have a whole lot more confidence that it will move in this fashion.  So, what, is going to happen.  The next few days still look as scheduled, with pleasant weather and continued warmth lasting through Saturday.  By Sunday, we begin to see the first inroads of this change.  For us around the Bay, that mostly means a slight cooling, and perhaps some over riding clouds.  Well to our north, say around Shasta, they could get some like precipitation.  Even more so on Monday.  In the mountains, things look to stay around 30F on Monday.  Mid 50s down on the coast.  And it will get windy over the ridgetops in this time period.  Still, we should see mostly sun down here over the holiday weekend.

Tuesday sees more rain pushing south into the northern fringe of our region.  By evening, areas north of the Bay will likely be experiencing the first bouts of rain showers.  This rain line will continue to move south through the rest of the week.  And it will gain strength.  Thursday seems to be when the brunt of the flow should arrive for us, lasting through about Saturday.  After that it looks like we might get a quick break, before more rain fills back in early the following week.  Over the period of the first few waves, SF should be looking at about one to two inches of rain.  A bit more to the north, and a bit less to the south.  Of course, all of this could shift further north leaving us quite a bit dryer.  We should have a better idea as we move into the weekend.  Still, plan for rain.

Land meets sea along West Cliff Drive.

This week ends great, with mid 60s in Santa Cruz and plenty of sun.  By Sunday, things start to cool into the 50s and even more so on Monday.  Some breezy weather can be expected.  Tuesday we see light rain moving into the region from the north, spreading south over Wednesday.  Heavier rain Thursday through early Saturday and then brief clearing.  Snow for the Sierra.  Check that yard for things left around like it is summertime.  I know the past month plus may have fooled some of you into thinking winter was over (or never really started).  Wind and rain is coming, so clean up that mess and get ready for some weather a bit more typical for late January.  And wax up those skis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Change we can believe in.

More sunshine this coming week.  Scotts Creek Beach.
But, if you are placing bets at this point, you are still a gambling man.  Regardless, our weather pattern has started to change, and the results will become more apparent in about a week's time.  The high pressure that has sat on top of the central California coast since late November has finally shifted to our north.  For the time being, it is still hard to tell this by looking out the window.  Or even by looking at the short term forecast.  Beautiful sun and mid 60s are expected around the bay right through the holiday weekend.  Nights are starting to cool a bit, with lows dipping down below 40F in most locations.  Still, we are not looking at any real freezes for the time being.  Although, highs do begin to dip by Monday and into Tuesday.  Perhaps only 60F, or a bit cooler by then.

So, in short, great weather on tap for the upcoming week.  Get out there and make the best of this holiday.  It looks like we also have some moderate surf on and calm winds on tap for the weekend.  Nothing huge, but sure will be plenty of fun, especially with the opportunity for the crowds to spread out. New swell peaks Friday evening.  Best bet will be Saturday morning.  Light offshores expected.  Also, there are great groomer conditions up in the ski country.  Sure, terrain is limited, but the surface is prime for ripping.  Word is KW and Alpine have some of the best surface conditions.  And if you like steeps, chair 6 at KW has perhaps the steepest run open in Tahoe.  If you prefer variety, take a look at Northstar or Heavenly.  They have by far the most terrain open.

How about that long term?  Well, models are slowly trying to get a grasp on what will happen next.  Right now there seems to be a slight inclination toward rain.  And by rain, I mean torrents.  If we do move toward a wet solution, we are expecting a very wet solution.  And if it goes that way, expect a start of the storms to begin sometime between next Wednesday and next Saturday.  And plan for a week plus of mostly wet weather.  A downer?  I don't know.  In some ways a week of rain will mix things up a bit. I mean, all this sunshine and warmth can get a little boring.  And we need the water.  And we need the snow.  More on this in the coming days, as we get a better handle on specifics.  Finally, it should be mentioned, by a "week plus", I mean this thing could possibly stretch into February.  Do you remember last season after our six weeks of glorious sun?  It then rained for three months.  And we have a lot to make up for this year.  Of course, another solution gives us more dry weather.  Different, but the same.

Just a typical mid winter day on the Monterey Bay.  Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz.

In summary, more clear sky 60F+ degrees days through Sunday.  More of the same through at least Tuesday, although a bit cooler.  Pattern change take its local effect next Wednesday through Saturday.  Either quite wet, and a bit cooler, or more dry, and perhaps a tad warmer.  Best bet is on the wet solution now.  But that is slightly better than 50/50.

And water those gardens.  We are still at least a week off from rain.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Sunshine State prays for Rain. Dreams may come true next week.

Cowell's is a great place to learn in the winter time.
Nothing in life is a sure bet.  And this year, predictions for rain are far from it.  As we left one of the driest Decembers in history, the state is starting to look a little less heavy in water.  The snowpack is virtually non-existant, and our water year is starting to look bleak.  Concerning, even.  So all eyes are focussed on teleconnections that are starting to move in the right direction for rain to come our way.  But a lot needs to fall into place before that will happen.  Still, the pattern is changing.  It is still too soon to tell if it will be another dry pattern, or one that brings much needed rain and snow.  The big determining factor is the location of the new ridge that forms as our persistent west coast ridge move north.  Regardless of the result, we are changing patterns, and therefore a chance of prolonged rain exists.  And really, that is what we need.

In the meantime, this week looks to be quite pleasant.  Overnight, we are seeing cool, but not cold temperatures down along the coast.  Expect them to bottom out around 40 degrees.  During the day, things warm quickly with the sun.  Around noon highs will be about 60F on Monday, slowly building to mid 60s by Friday.  Over all quite nice.  Sun is the name of the game for most of the week.  This evening a storm is moving through the PNW.  So, tomorrow we may see some clouds pulling through the area with a very slight chance of showers.  Very slight.  Hell, we may not even see that much of cloud cover. Currently, it looks like the weekend will be nice.  But what about MLK Day?  Well, that is still up in the air a bit.

More birds and more low tide reef.  Winter tides can get pretty negative and expose deep reefs.

The pattern change is occurring this week.  Our bubble of sun will begin to break down and shift toward our north.  If it reforms well enough east, we will see a through develop over us, along with a river of cold and wet air pushing down from the Arctic.  If, on the other hand, it sets up more directly north, it will have a similar effect as it does now.  It would be dry.  A bit breezier perhaps.  And a bit warmer perhaps.  And while warm and sunny does sound nice, ultimately, we need some rain.  And snow.  All that said, it is still too early to determine what will happen.  As we get closer, a better picture will form.  Until then, just have you mind ready for some rain starting next week.  And plan now for a chance of precipitation on MLK.  Odd though is that the holiday weekend will stay nice regardless of where this next pattern goes.

Okay.  Great week ahead.  Moderate surf and mostly easterly winds.  Mid 60s.  Sunny, except for perhaps Tuesday.  Weekend should be more of the same.  Chance of a rainy pattern setting up around MLK Day and after.  Equal chance for another, but different, sunny pattern to happen as well.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More great weather for the coming week. Big waves to finish out this week.

Another beautifully lit winter sky.
The SE Papa Buoy (which happens to be in the north eastern Pacific.  What?) jumped up to 23 feet at 16 seconds this morning.  For those of you who are are not wave watchers, this is a very big swell, and it is charging across the waters on its way to our local beaches.  It should arrive after sunset this evening, and peak in the early morning hours.  While it will have dropped significantly by the time it arrives along our coast, it will still be quite big.  Expect waves to show in the 15-20 foot range.  It will be quite the show.  If you are surfer, please know what you are doing.  This will be an 'experts only' condition.  Even in the more protected waters of Santa Cruz and Capitola, side shore currents will be strong, and there will be sneaker sets.  For those of you who charge, game on.  And for all the voyeurs out there, this will be a great time to get out and watch some mayhem.  Mavs will be breaking Friday morning.  Ocean Beach and Steamer Lane will also have quite a show going.  Just stay well clear of the ocean folks, as the water level can rise quite quickly and dramatically during the bigger sets.  And stay off the rocks.  Don't be that guy that gets swept into the cold winter ocean.

Right now, the weather is a bit boring.  Sure, there are some variations, like morning fog today.  That should burn off quick.  After that, we are expecting a mostly clear sky and mild day time temperatures.  Mornings continue to be fairly crisp, with lows getting down into the mid to high 30s across the region.  Some northern and inland valleys are trying to dip into the freezing range, but for now we look mostly frost free.  Once the sun comes up, things warm up quite a bit.  Right along the coast we can expect low to mid 60s.  If you are out in the sun, and protected from the breeze, it should be quite warm.  Breezes remain light, but expect a little flow coming off the ocean in the afternoons.  This pattern looks to continue through at least the middle of next week.  The storm that should effect the PNW starting tonight will stay well north of us.  Still no rain or snow in the short term.

The O'neil cat cruising Steamer Lane.  Expect big waves here in the coming days.

Are are still looking at a large scale pattern change starting around the 10th.  What the exact results of this will be are still up in the air.  We could see the storm doors finally open wide.  Still, there is a chance that our ridge could stay in place as cold and snow impact the east instead.  I know that every skier in the state is hoping that this does not happen.  I also hear a lot of skiers out there giving up on winter.  Don't.  It would be quite an anomaly if we don't see another 200 inches of snow fall this season.  And it is not out of the question for us to see 400 or more.  We have gone 6 weeks now without rain and snow.  Sounds like a long time, but we had a longer dry spell than that last winter, and most would agree it was the most epic of seasons.  Cross your fingers, wash your cars and perform your snow dances.  On a positive water note, most of the state's reservoirs are still above average capacity for the date.  So on that front, we are in good shape.

For now, enjoy the great weather.  And don't forget to water your winter gardens.  Cool nights and warm days for the next week.  Keep an eye out here for news of a change in the weather.  And go watch  the waves.  Or enjoy (and be safe in) the surf.  It will be going off Richter tomorrow.