Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dumping and thumping.

So, yesterday morning a band or rain came through that lasted briefly.  That was why the sky was so dark. Guess I should have looked at the radar, but unfortunately we don't have any stations directly to our west.  Anyway, sun broke in Santa Cruz soon after, and it was a quite nice, if very chilly day.  Clouds filled back in around sunset, and rain developed overnight.  By daybreak it was dumping, both on the coast, and in the hills.  Snow levels down to 3k.  By late morning, Santa Cruz stopped with the rain, and the sun was out for the 1:30 opening bell of the Farmer's Market.  Perfect timing.  Now clouds are starting to filter back in.

Clouds pouring through near the top of the Carson Spur.

This thing is not over yet.  We faired pretty well so far.  On the West Slope, this storm is hitting hard.  Already, since yesterday evening, a fresh foot plus has fallen along the crest.  More north of Route 50.  A second wave is preparing to come onshore later today.  But we should see rain return to the Bay Area.  With some luck, that will happen after the morning commute.  This band is strong, but not quite as strong as last nights.  Moderate rain and strong winds should last through the morning hours on Thursday.  The rain will trail behind, but we could see clearing tomorrow, like we did today.  And behind this next wave of cold rain is just a nice high pressure and sunshine building.  Plan for a nice evening stroll tomorrow night, but remember to bundle up.  It is not warm yet.

Snow continues on Thursday.  By evening, when things begin to taper off, we could be looking at 40-50 inches at the Sierra Crest.  This thing still looks to be on track with those numbers.  Most resorts will see from three to six feet of new snow this week come Friday morning.  And the weekend will be sunny and pleasantly warm.  My bet is some crowds will show up, so hit those slopes early.  You don't want to be standing around in lines, buying tickets and renting gear at ten in the morning as more and more people pack on the mountain.  And if you know your hill, head out to the last terrain that opened this week.   that is where you'll likely find the best fluff.  Finally, stick to the shade once thinks begin to heat up.  That fresh powder will mank up quickly in the March sun.

Peak 9795' and Melissa Corey Peak crown over Fawn Ridge, Look Out Vista, Thunder Saddle and Norm's Nose at Kirkwood, California.

Also today and tomorrow, something to watch out for, is another sizable swell impacting the coast.  Things might begin to clean up by the end of the week for decent surf, but right now, it is mostly going to be some wild ride storm surf.  Makes for a fun walk along West Cliff if you don't mind too much bluster.  But you may want to wait for the turn toward the better if you only get one day to hang on the beach.  Down here on the coast we are still looking forward to some fine weather.  It won't warm up quite like it did last week with multiple days in the mid 70s.  But it will be a beautiful run of weather once again.  Friday will warm up a bit, but that cool air will take a while to warm.  By Saturday the trend will be set.  I'm pegging Sunday for the winner.

More rain tonight and Thursday.  Plenty of wind.  Clearing and warming on Friday.  Sun and almost hot for the weekend.  A little cooler next week, with some chance of rain from storms that look to stay to our north.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winter visits Central California this week.

Cold, breezy and wet.  That about sums it up for the first half of this week.  Santa Cruz was spared rain for the most part yesterday.  We did get a little in the very early morning hours of Monday.  Then a ring of clouds formed leaving a whole of sun over Santa Cruz.  Heavy clouds stayed to our south, impacting the Monterey and Big Sur areas.  The real brunt of the storm slipped over the entire coast range zone and slammed into the West Slope.  Cold air, combined with good orographic lift and some moisture dumped over 6 inches around the lake.  Kirkwood reported 16" totals this morning, and Mt. Rose, benefiting from some lake effect received two feet of new snow.  If you are out and about this week, be careful.  Under all that blower are the rocks, stumps, logs and such that were starting to get exposed during last weeks warm spell.

Chair 6 and Wagonwheel Bowl at low tide.  Kirkwood.  Heading toward a fuller tide by the weekend.

Today, Tuesday is looking a bit more placid.  A layer of clouds sits along the coast, but the sun could have a chance of peaking out today.  So says the forecasts, but looking at that sky, we could see rain before noon today.  And it will remain cold with a high in the mid 50s.  Up in the Sierra, cold, clouds and very light flurries will be the name of the game, with perhaps a few glimpses at the sun.  The real news if for Wednesday and Thursday.  The storms for mid week have been upgraded with each run of the models.  You begin to wonder if they are over stating.  But it now looks like the the air will not really warm up all that much, so these storms continue to be cold.  What is impressive is the water amounts forecasted.  Around the Bay Area we are expecting about an inch of rain from late tonight through Thursday afternoon.  On Wednesday the rain will be the heaviest and most consistent.  on the north coast and in the Tahoe area, we are expecting about 2.5 inches of precipitaion.  With temperatures at night in the teens and in the low twenties during the day, that will mean two to four feet of new snow. My guess is we have over 50 inches of new snow since Sunday along the crest by Friday morning.  That is a good week by any years standard.  An excellent week by this years.

Sierra Crest, looking west toward an approaching storm.  It is about time these rocks get a snowy blanket.

And the news just keeps on getting better.  Friday things begin to clear up.  Sun and mid 60s for Friday with 70 expected in Santa Cruz by Sunday.  That will be the peak of it, with mid 60s and a few clouds starting off the next week.  So, for you fair weathered skiers, or just the weekend warrior, you can expect sunny skies and 45F at 7000 feet.  Sure, temperatures that warm in late February are not that awesome for the snow, but you will be starting off with some very light density skier packed powder.  Should be pretty darn good in the resorts, and in great condition on northerly slopes in the BC.  Be sure to check out the Sierra Avalanche Center advisory for more details on the snow pack.

A break today.  Continues cold through Thursday.  Heavy rain on Wednesday.  Lighter, but still moderate rain starts off Thursday morning and breaks up by the afternoon.  Clouds clear.  Friday will warm up a bit.  Very nice for the weekend.  Sunshine and 70F.  A bit cooler, but fair to start next week.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snow Capped Peaks.

Weathered tree near Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada, California.
Well, "capped" might be too strong of a word, but the mountains around San Jose and Monterey Bay could get a nice dusting of snow as early as Monday morning.  So, just in case you can't figure it out on your own, that means it is going to be cold around these parts tomorrow.  You can already feel that cold air filtering into the area this evening.  It is going to be cold the next few nights with lows about 40F right on the coast, and colder as you move inland and up the hills.  Snow levels will drop to around 2000 feet, before beginning to climb back up to more reasonable levels mid week.  Monday and Tuesday will be chilly, with a chance of highs staying below the 50F mark in some areas.  Of course, urban zones will be the warmest and higher valleys in the coastal mountains being coldest.  It sure will feel like winter for a few days.

Light rain continues on Monday with clearing on Tuesday.  Nothing impressive precipitation wise.  Just maybe a tenth of an inch of rain total.  Best chances for precipitation are actually south of us along the Big Sur coast.  Tuesday night a slightly warmer, and much wetter system will move into the area.  This one is still nothing too impressive, but compared to Monday, it will be quite wet.  Widespread rain last through the day on Wednesday.  A third system will sweep through late Wednesday into Thursday morning.  Maybe some rain left for the morning commute.  After that, things dry and warm up.  Mid to high 50s Thursday.  Sun and 60F for Friday.  The weekend could see some sweet weather with mid 60s and plenty of sun.  Of course, that is based on another storm not driving down and hitting us on Sunday.  More on that in a few days.

So, in short, some cold nasty weather for the next few days.  Please be careful out on those roads, and some areas in the hills could see ice and snow.  Also, Tuesday evening and Wednesday could get quite blustery with 30 knot winds through the valley.  Storms break late Wednesday or early Thursday.  Warming trend to follow with sun in the forecast.  Could be a spectacular weekend.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Step one. Put a hole in the block.

That is right.  The blocking high that has been prevalent this winter is about to take its first real punch in a while.  The storms of the previous week were really just slippery guys, sneaking around and dropping us with a bit of snow.  A lot of luck in those scenarios to get more than a few inches.  Good probability for significant change in the weather pattern.  Starting Saturday as cold air begins to seep south.  By very early Monday morning a pocket of very cold air will be sitting just off the coast, to the west of Santa Cruz.  As that chill moves on shore, the day will feel cold.  And a light drizzle could form along the coastal slopes.  In fact, this light precip could move as far east as the Sierra.  Still, not much than a cold, damp day.  Or some flurries up about 4000 feet.

Desolation Wilderness.  Sierra Nevada. California.  Bluebird days offer the best views.

That cold air is to stay put for at least a few days.  Another wave will come through the area early on Wednesday morning, as it looks now.  This one is to be a bit stronger and carry a little more punch.  But it will not be quite as cold.  But it is not like things are warming up much.  High 50s or maybe 60F on Wed.  The rest of the work week dry and cool.  Low 60s and partly cloudy to sunny skies.  Another storm is out the back though, and we could see more rain and a deeper trough develop by next weekend.    More on all this excitement to bring in the new month as we get a but closer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prepare for Winter.

Hey folks.  Another fine day out there.  I was enjoying life in the high Sierra at 10,00 feet today.  In the shade, it was cold, and the snow was wintery. In the sun, it was in the high 40s and the snow was sun baked.  All things considered it was a great day to be out and experiencing a wintery landscape.  Tomorrow looks to be almost as nice, even if it is to be a bit windy.  Then things look to cool off.  In fact it will cool quite a bit at elevation.

From Round Top to Thimble Peak.  Looking into the beautiful Kirkwood Valley.

The big news for today and Friday is some winds in the hills north and east of San Francisco.  Down here in the Cruz, we should be spared.  In some areas, they could gust up to 35 mph coming out of the northeast.  That could mean some off shore winds for the surf on the coast.  Down along the water, it will be a bit more northerly.  And the surf is holding at a decent size.  But if you prefer warm weather, Friday is the last in the series.  Nothing quite like the past two, but high 60s for in town Santa Cruz and mid 60s along the cliffs.  By the weekend, we start to drop down to just about the 60F mark.  And the nights will begin to cool as well.

Night sets up on the slopes, giving off that lovely alpine glow.  

How cold will it get?  The models are not in agreement on this.  We could be seeing temps toping out int he low 50s next week, but others forecast holding steady at 60F.  Regardless, after this past week, it will feel quite chilly.  And the rain does not look like it is far behind.  As it stands now, we should see mostly sun and some clouds over the weekend.  More clouds and slight chance of precipitation as you move north and east.  Maybe another dusting of snow for Tahoe.  As next week progresses, we see an increase in chances for rain.  We will need to wait and see.  Just know, the chance is there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Storm clouds filling in around the top of ten.  Kirkwood.
Dude.  It is going to get hot out there over the next few days.  No, not Palm Springs hot, but certainly Santa Cruz in February hot.  Santa Rosa could be looking at 75 by Thursday.  Even San Francisco look to break the 70F mercury point.  Glorious weather is on tap this week here in the central part of the state.  In short, we are starting out a brief warming trend this morning.  High 60s this afternoon in Santa Cruz, low 70s Wednesday and Thursday.  Should be a scorcher down at the Farmer's Market this week.  Well, at least for the middle of winter.  But don't get too set on this fine weather, as by the week's end we will be seeing substantially colder weather.  High 50s start our next week.

The big question is about the rain.  Pretty much set that this cold pool of air is going to spill down on top of us, as our bubble of high pressure take a little trip up to Alaska.  May it heard they have snow.  But what is hard to say at this point is when the storm door opens, will anything be waiting.  A system is out there, and will be coming into the coast around Saturday.  Likely a good portion of it will stay well to our north.  Say around Portland.  Some will spread south.  How much is still up in the air.  At this point, best guess is for drizzle on Saturday and then a brief break.  No warm up is expected, so cold will continue.  The real news is that more storms look to break toward the south as we move into March.  Could be a stormy week in the near future.  The ten day shows things starting to change around the 28th.

Red Cliffs with a spectacular sky backdrop.  

Up in the mountains the snow was pretty fun this past weekend.  The snow from last week held up, and a fresh inch fell Sunday night.  The warm up this week will change all of that.  Expect the wintery conditions experienced this past week quickly change to spring like.  While it is hot on the coast, it will be in the 50s at the lake the next few days.  Up at 8000 feet it may hit 50F briefly over the next few afternoons.  That will help start a melt/ freeze cycle.  Just at the corn is ripening, that cold air will fill in.  Sunday night could see single digits in spots.  That snowpack is going to freeze right up.  Just hope we get some snow in the next few cycles, otherwise it will be firm pack until things warm back up.  Great for racers and those who love groomers, but I think we have had enough of that already this winter.

The rest of the week looks great.  Peak warmth on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday is back down in the 60s.  Saturday will see low 60s with a chance of light rain.  Sunday will be down into the high 50s.  Maybe some clouds.  More cold and possible rain to finish out the month next week.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Slight chance of drizzle. Cool for the weekend. Maybe 70 by late next week.

Just a quick one tonight.  The clouds filled in just around sunset.  And it got cold.  Expect a high arounf 55 tomorrow.  Slight chance of rain for Saturday.  The well protected zones, like the west side of Santa Cruz could be spared.  Anyway, no one is going to get too much rain.  Best chances in the north.  Sunday will be a bit warmer, but not much.  Another brief chance for rain on Monday morning, but it is looking a little warmer.  Say just about 60.

If you ever wondered what alpine glow looked like, this is for you.  It is kind of like everything goes pink.\/

Sun returns for the week on Tuesday.  Mid 60s.  And it just keeps getting better.  With a little bit of luck we will be 70F here by Thursday in Santa Cruz.  Break out that swim wear.  There is still a chance of storms coming in by the weekend, but not a whole lot of confidence in that scenario.  More in a few days.  Now I am going to head to the snow with the family.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Weekend forecast turning toward dry.

Yes, but before we discuss that, holy cow was it cold and windy yesterday!  Stiff breezes kept everyone on their toes, and well bundled up, at the downtown Farmer's Market.  Many farms choose not to set up their canopies for fear they would blow down the street.  Out on West Cliff it was blowing strong.  Folks were double hand carrying their surfboards.  But by 8PM last night there was essentially no wind blowing in town.  That is good news for the surfers who decided to go look for waves this morning.  While a bit lumpy, things were glassy up and down the county.  And more good news for today is that we should see a bit of warming.  But that will be short lived.

Sunny and low 60s in Santa Cruz for today and Friday.  Light morning winds, with perhaps a touch of offshore.  Cooler afternoon breezes up to 10 knots or so along the water.  It now looks like Friday will be the warmer of the two days.  But not by much.  Basically T-shirt warm in the sun through the middle of the day; Hoody chilly in the shade, in the breeze, or along the waters edge.  Then we see the return of clouds and high 50s for the weekend.  This storm looks to be breaking up and current thinking has this thing passing just to our north.  Greatest chance of sprinkles the further north you go.  Rain for Oregon.  Just a brushing, with some drizzle on Saturday morning.  A second, slightly feistier wave could impact us Monday morning.  Keep an eye on this one, as it could lag through the day.  So basically, plan your BBQ for Sunday.

After a cool Tuesday, things look to warm up next week with a new high pressure bubble setting up camp just off the coast.  This thing should keep rain and clouds well to our north through Friday or so.  It actually could get quite nice around Wednesday and Thursday.  It really depends how this thing sets up and if it will pump some hot air up from the southwest.  I kind of hope not, as we will be up trying to enjoy the snow, and continued cold will keep things wintery.

Speaking of which, this storm may hit Tahoe a bit harder than the coast.  But not much.  Expect a dusting to three inches with the Saturday storm.  So, you can get out there and enjoy the skiing without dealing with blizzards and low visibility.  But then again, it won't be powder day.  But it is going to be one of the best weekends of the year so far.  Sunday should have a mostly cloudy sky and maybe some morning flurries.  But the sun could come out for a bit in the afternoon.  The Monday storm is a bit of a cut off system, so snow amounts will really depend on where is goes.  It could be a complete miss, so sun is possible Monday.  So is a little wind.  Or it could come at us right off the water and drop another few inches.  But hopes of accumulating a foot between now and Tuesday have all but disappeared.

For now, a great end to the week.  Clouds and cooler temps for the weekend. Slight chance of light rain. Sunday look like the best chance for sun.  Monday is up in the air.  Warming trend next week.  Chance of rain for the last weekend of the month.  Possible storm train to follow.  Will monitor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quick moving compact storms.

That is pretty much what we have on tap for the coming week.  As of now it looks like the core of these things are going to miss us here on the coast.  That is not to say we won't see some of the effects, but we will not be dealing with quick the same thing as Sunday night and Monday morning.  The sun started to break out a few times yesterday, but it seemed as if the clouds and rain had the upper hand.  Our late day stroll started out quite nice with the combination of upper level winds, awesome clouds and just enough light slipping through to make it all go off.  Just before dark, the sky turned grey all over and a light drizzle started in the evening.  But all of that is now in the past.

Fishing boats were out on the bay before the ocean turned all mad and grey.

Today starts off decent, with thin clouds.  Those should stick around through the morning.  Cross your fingers, and we may see those burn off and get some sun in here through the afternoon.  And it is cool out there.  Topping out in the high 50s.  A bit warmer than the past few days.  We have a slight chance of showers tonight.  The good news is that those should all be well to our east by morning, leaving us with a partly cloudy sky.  The bad news is we should see some gusty winds Wednesday in the 15 knot range.  Still, could be worse.  Thursday again looks like the day of the week with sun and low 60s.  Friday sees just a few more clouds and a touch cooler in front of the next series of systems.  The storms for the weekend also look like they will be mostly missing us.  This is a bit early to really discuss in detail, but as of now Saturday looks the driest, with some light precipitation for Sunday and Monday.

So, Wednesday storm pretty much misses us.  It is coming down pretty much straight from the north.  This thing is pretty darn compact, and a jog of 50-100 miles in its path can make the difference between "some clouds" and "moderate rain".  The Sierra looks like it will be in the bulls eye.  Expect another round of snow for the mountains starting late Tuesday night and lasting through Wednesday morning.  Accumulations will not be quite what we had with this past system (5-8" at the lake, 10-18" at the crest), but there will be a period of heavy snow for a few hours.  Look for another few inches at lake level and perhaps 6" up at the crest.  Another refresh that is setting things up nicely for the holiday weekend and ski week.  We may even get another good system Saturday night into Monday morning.  More on that later.

Did I mention it is blossom season here in Santa Cruz?  It is totally going off right now.

For now, in Santa Cruz, the next two days look touchy.  Expect some clouds, some sun, and slight chances of shower burst.  Best chances for rain are from Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning. Thursday looks fine.  Friday almost as good.  Cooler with increasing chances of light rain through the weekend.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ra in, Wind, Snow and Surf. All rolled into one fine day.

The winds have already started to pick up.  After a nice calm morning that even offered up a few glimpses of sunshine, the next wave in the series is beginning to bare down onto the coast.  And while by last winter's standards this storm does not even merit much more than a mention, this thing is going to pack a bit of a punch.  Tomorrow morning is going to be a challenge pretty much were ever you find yourself.  Rain is already moving onshore in Marin County.  The rest of us around the bay will see it soon enough.  Tonight we should see plenty of moderate, to heavy at times, rain.  Snow for the Sierra.  Freezing levels will start out around 5500 feet and could drop as low as 4000 feet through the day Monday.  Brrr.  A Chilly one.

The calm before the storm.  The last few days before the rain were quite nice in Santa Cruz.

And there will be wind.  Lots of it.  Especially just off the coast, where the core of the strong winds should remain.  We are talking like 40 knots plus kind of wind.  And what this will do is whip up some high seas just a few miles off the coast.  If you want a visual for what "Victory at Sea" conditions look like, just venture out to the coast tomorrow.  Large, raw swell will be accompanied by strong onshore winds Monday.  Could be good for a viewing, but if you are thinking of surfing, you best find a well protected location.  I think we will try to get some shopping done.  Or a visit to the museum.

The wind will not all stay offshore.  So, when combined with moderate rains, what that means is the morning commute will be a bit hellish.  Plan for it.  But the good news is that rain should turn to light showers by the evening commute.  And the wind will subside a bit as well.  The evening could, with a bit of luck, turn out to be quite nice for a stroll.  Tuesday and Wednesday remain up in the air.  It looks like another few waves will make their way through the region.  But neither looks, at the moment, as strong as Monday's.  There is a chance that the Wednesday system will wind up and pull a little moisture on shore.  This one is a cut off, so its exact path is hard to predict.  And that will really determine the weather we get.

Natural Bridges State Park weathering a high tide, decent sized surf and a little drizzle.

Pretty much the same for up in Tahoe.  A few inches to maybe 6 at lake level by the end of day Monday.   Up to a foot above 7k, and a bit more than that is possible along the crest.  Every bit of it is welcome.  Most likely we will see flurries on Tuesday.  Enough for a dusting.  And with an ideal trajectory, Wednesday's wave looks like it could be good for a few more inches.  If we get a fresh foot at the resorts this week, it could set things up nicely for President's weekend.  We will just need to keep an eye on the storms for Saturday and beyond.

As it stands now, things should be partly to mostly sunny by Thursday and Friday.  Another storm could be upon us for Saturday and linger through the weekend.  Something to watch.  In the meantime, you should plan for some outdoor activities during the brief period of sun that we could get.  I told you it would feel a bit more like winter this week.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Botched that one.

Yup.  Yesterday was not sunny.  That is what happens when you don't double check the morning run of the models.  This system started to split up a bit, and the result was for a good portion of it to run ahead and spill over us in the middle of the day Friday.  Instead of a brief period of light to moderate rain, we got about 30 hours of sporadic drizzle.  It was sure a different day than Thursday when folks were walking around topless on West Cliff.  Well, guy folks.  This is not the revolution.

Thursday was California Dreamin'.  Toasty in the sun on West Cliff.  And a big swell was running.

Just a brief statement tonight as the next system begins to wind up.  Looks like we will be getting the rain later tomorrow evening and into Monday.  About a 1/2 inch from SF south.  About an inch in the Sierra.  Expect a foot or more along the crest.  All in all, a bit wetter than what we got Friday and this morning.  But as far as this winter goes, it was pretty wet.  Only a dusting up in the mountains, but word is Kirkwood was skiing well.  And the Wednesday system looks like it could be edging closer to the coast and maybe make it as far east as Tahoe.  More on all of this Sunday.  For now, make plans to enjoy the morning.  Clouds will fill in early and rain could be here as early as in the afternoon (but I bet we make it until sunset before anything too heavy starts).

So, just a quick note tonight.  Best weather in the morning Sunday.  Cloud fill in. Then rain.  Wet morning commute Monday.  And that could stick around for the evening drive as well.  A bit better on Tuesday, but not much.  Another wave possible for Wednesday.  Thursday and Friday look nice.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Braised beef, creamed spinach, roasted parsnip, chicken tortilla soup...

The surfer statue on West Cliff Drive prepares for some rain.
Making a list of menu items in this home for the coming weekend and the start of next week.  We are finally planning on eating some of our cozy up winter classics, 'cause it is going to get wintery out there.  At least by this winter's standards.  We will several days of cooling and even a little bit of wet weather.  But before we need to turn up the heat and wrap ourselves in down, we have one more day to enjoy this superb weather.  It won't be quite as warm today as it has been the last few, but we will still be pushing into the 60s and see plenty of sunshine to close out the work week.

Saturday's storm will bring us much cooler weather.  Daytime highs could drop a few degrees, but with lots of clouds and much breezier conditions, it will feel quite a bit cooler.  Saturday should peak in the high 50s with a mostly cloudy sky, strong northwest winds and a chance of showers.  Compare that to the 75F I saw on Wednesday with calm winds and all sunshine.  And from there, it gets cooler and wetter.  Sure, Sunday morning may see fewer clouds, but that won't last for long.  By evening, the third wave of the system should roll up to the coast and hit us with a little taste of winter.  Moderate and consistent rain fills in overnight and Monday looks like it will be wet.  And cold, with the high having a hard time reaching much above 50F.  Some showery weather could stick around on Tuesday, but high pressure tries to get a foot hold through the second half of the week.  Oh, and this is a chilly wintery high.  Don't expect much above 60F.  And, I should note, there is actually another storm that could come across us on Wednesday, but at this point, it looks like it could be headed south of us.  Sorry SoCal folks.

This is all great news for Tahoe.  Through Tuesday we could see upwards of a foot of snow.  Doubtful we will see much more than a few inches overnight at any point, so no big powder days.  But this will give the mountains an excellent resurfacing just a few days before the holiday weekend.  Tuesday looks like the best day to get in any sort of powder skiing.  As we get a bit closer, I'll have a better idea on snow amounts.  For now, it is just finally looking promising for a wintery turn around.

Kids play with the birds where the lagoon drains into the sea at Natural Bridges State Park.

Long term, the models and other forecasting tools suggest that next weeks fair weather will be short lived.  There is a chance for another storm next weekend.  And as we head into the second half of the month we may finally be moving into a more winter like pattern.  More on that as we get a better picture.  For now, a cool and cloudy weekend.  Breezy and rainy at times.  All is not lost though. Pack a shell and go out for a hike or enjoy the dropping swell.  Sunday night through Tuesday morning looks wet.  Clearing and sun the second half of next week.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Starting to look a bit more like winter. Or at least after a few more brilliant days.

It was toasty out there yesterday.  Like really toasty.  I know it may need to be calibrated, but my car thermometer claimed 75F in downtown Santa Cruz at 2pm.  I was parked on the sunny side of the street, but geez.  It was hot at the Farmer's Market.  It was shorts weather.  Seriously.  A bit cooler as one headed out toward the water.  About 70F near the Boardwalk and 65F once out past the Lane on West Cliff.  I imagine the afternoon breeze was keeping things a bit cooler out there, while it was calm downtown.  But enough about Wednesday.  Today looks even better, with Friday fairing pretty nice as well.  Expect mid 60s to low 70s.  And plenty of sunshine.

Clean surf has started to pound the coast.  Add a clear sky and near 70F air temps and you have California Dreami'

The surf is thumping too.  Two swells showed up in town on Wednesday and another arrives today.  Things have been pretty active out there.  And with this great weather, it is just like the California in brochures.  But, just when you are getting comfortable, things are starting to get interesting.  I could be as early as Friday night, and for sure by Saturday morning.  How far south it will reach is still hard to determine.  Rain is what I am talking about.  Another small system breaks through the high pressure, squeezing in from the north.  It will track down the coast, bringing light showers.  Confidence is high for points north of SF.  From the city south, chances drop pretty quickly.  Regardless, we will get plenty of cloud cover and cooler weather.  Yup, high 50s for the weekend.  And another dusting of snow in the Sierra.

Things stay possibly wet for four days.  Sunday looks likely to start fair and end not so fair as a second, wetter and stronger system follows the first.  Don't get me wrong.  These storms are nothing like what hit us for five days in January.  And there not really like the one that hit us a few days ago.  These guys are not likely to split.  So that means more snow for Tahoe.  Not much, but a few inches.  And light to moderate showers for us on the coast.  Things look like they will start to clear up on tuesday, but cold air will have replaced the warmth we have right now.  Sure, it will rebound a bit, but don't expect mid to high 60s.  And it won't hit 70 next week.  Speaking of which, have you been out side today?  Take your lunch break in the sun.  It will be well worth it.

The backside of Roundtop is nicely pasted and faces that afternoon sun.  Much more snow and this paces loses any gnar appeal.

As we move through next week, we see a few chances for more storms to break through.  It could be that our lovely high pressure will be heading up to Alaska for a ski vacation.  They have had record snow and cold this year (so that is where it all is).  The heli ops up there will be stoked to see some bluebird.  And if that does happen, the westerlies will cut under and bring on the storm train.  But that is not likely to happen for another two weeks.  Still, we could see plenty of colder and showery weather before then.  It looks like our epic weather is going on hiatus while winter finally pays us a visit.  Don't complain too much, we are in need of some water.

So, today and Friday: awesome.  Sunny and warm.  Today is the warmer of the two.  This weekend: blah.  Cooler (mid to high 50s), clouds and showers.  Same to start next work week.  Tuesday we should see the end of the rain, clearing of the clouds and with luck, and more cool temps in the high 50s.  Maybe more showers by the week's end.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Big surf and sunny days ahead.

Now that wasn't so bad.  Actually, it was mellower than expected.  The winds blew a bit for sure, but the rain was pretty minor in Santa Cruz.  You can credit that one on our southerly facing location, with the mountain range giving us a little protection.  This storm split a bit early and further north than expected.  Still, much of the Bay Area saw some moderate rains and steady drizzle.  Not much, if any, made it up to the mountains.  Plan on reports of a dusting on Wednesday morning.  Los Angeles, on the other hand, got a pretty good watering.  I guess it pays to live in the better part of the state.

Steamer Lane is always a great spot to watch some big surf.  You can check out more pics here.

What we do have to look forward to is some warming days.  And some big surf.  The surf arrives overnight, and we could be seeing 12-18 foot surf along the coast by morning.  I'm sure there will be a crew out at Mavericks if you are looking to view the big stuff.  This is a west swell, so size won't drop considerable when you get into town.  Middle Peak will be offering up wave bigger than double overhead. Some of the spots that focus the swell less will be a bit more manageable.  But pretty much no where will be small.

Don't believe the hype.  The skiing has been fun, and there is snow.  Nothing like last year, but if you like to schuss, go get some.

After some clouds clear in the morning, it will be mostly sun on Wednesday.  This should last through at least Saturday.  And more likely than not, sunday as well.  We have a storm that needs tracking for later in the weekend, but my guess right now is that is will stay north and into the PNW.  Thursday looks like a winner, with high 60s expected here on the coast.  Things do cool off a bit with the northern storm, so expect about 60, or a touch warmer for the weekend.  Night continue cool (not cold) with lows down in the low 40s.  More later.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Here we go. Wind and rain. And a touch of snow up high.

Moon rises over Whiskey Ridge, Kirkwood, California.
You know, it has been a pretty warm year.  Sure, we all notice it is dry.  And you probably notice how warm it is in the sun.  But have you noticed the warm rain as well?  Not like last year when we could see snow rimmed mountains around the Monterey Bay.  Heck, San Jose looked more like a mountain city than a coastal one.  The point is, we have another storm coming our way, and it will be another warm one.  Low 50s here in Santa Cruz.  Snow levels will be hanging out around lake level in the Tahoe Basin.  So you don't need to worry about wintery travel down here in the coastal mountains.  But you do need to worry about high winds and possible road closures.

This storm is coming in hot and heavy and hitting a brick wall.  Most of its energy will sweep south through Baja, but it will be breaking to bits right on top of us.  That means some high winds starting as early as sunset tonight.  Rain will arrive pretty heavy as well, filling in over night.  Tuesday morning's commute will be pretty gnarly.  If you travel over mountain roads, leave early.  You might even want to check that no trees have been downed and block you route.  Serious.  That kind of storm.  Over an inch will fall along the coast, and that will drop quickly as you head inland.  Maybe (with some luck) a 1/2 inch will fall along the Sierra Crest.  As you head south, though, the numbers hang in there.  Say 3/4 of an inch for (not so) sunny San Diego.  This will be a pretty good rain maker for us coastal folks.  Things clear in the evening, but best plan for a rugged commute home Tuesday.

As the sun sets behind Chair 6 and Glove Rock, Kirkwood, California.

Clearing, and a bit warmer Wednesday.  About 60F.  Thursday and Friday we could see a pretty nice warm up.  Kind of like what we say this past weekend.  No bets yet on 70s, but pushing in that direction.  Even the Sierra may see a drastic warm up and a building inversion.  Lets hope not.  We could use a few inches of snow falling through the day Tuesday, being pushed into the surface by riders.  But only if it stays cold afterwards and keeps that stuff squeaking.  The snow has been way too loud this season.  We need some winter.  That is not to say the riding has not been excellent.  It is much better than the media will have you think.  Ask anyone who has ventured up.

So, prepare for some high winds this afternoon and tonight.  Drive carefully.  Roads will be wet, pools will form and we can expect some small flooding.  Tuesday is dreary.  Plan for an indoor activity.  Wednesday clears and warms to 60.  Thursday and Friday should be 65+ and sunny.  A little cooler for the weekend.  For now, looks like more sun.  But things are starting to look interesting as we move to mid month.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Confidence builds for rain event Tuesday.

Ah.  Pretty awesome out there right now.  Isn't it.  Enjoy.  This really is the best winter we have had in a long time, if you like warm, sunny and good beach days.  Kind of the worse winter in quite a while if you love the snow.  I like both, so it is always a split for me.  Just like the jetstream seems to be doing this season.  Part of the reason we are enjoying such great weather, and pretty darn good surf, this winter is that most storms just don't make it.  Our big strong bubble of high pressure beats down nearly everything that comes into its path.  And it looks like it will beat this next storm down quite a bit as it approaches the coast.

Kirkwood has some good coverage and decent conditions.  All things considered.  Get out and play.

Weather to remain winning until late on Monday.  Tomorrow could be even a touch warmer.  Mid to high 60s on the coast in Santa Cruz.  If you prefer a bit more warmth, take a hike in the SC Mountains where they could see some spots topping 70F.  Yup, it is February.  Things will cool a bit on Monday, and it still looks like rain, wind and mid 50s for Tuesday.  More snow you think?  Not much.  This storm will spill most of its energy right along the coast. where we could see over an inch of rain.  Unfortunately, the energy will get split, with the big chunk of it headed south, along the coast.  I mean, we want snow, and we need a snowpack to store water, and all the major reservoirs are inland.  On the other hand, San Diego could see some of their dust get settled by a few showers.  Yay.

There is still a chance that some moisture will break through to the west.  But don't get your hopes up.  Just a day of bleak weather for the coast and valley.  Can't complain much, as sun returns to us on Wednesday and through the end of next week.  There are signs of a chance of a change starting to show up on the models.  And some of the teleconnection forecast are kind of looking like they are going in the right direction.  At this point, it does not look like a storm train set up that we really need.  But instead, our bubble starts to move around a bit, allowing brief glimpses of a storm door being open.  So, in short, it might rain again later this month.

Or stick around the coast.  There has been some very good surf over the past few months.
And despite some fog, great weather.

Short term we have a fabulous weekend.  Get out there and enjoy it.  If you don't, you are just being silly.  I hear there is a football game on this weekend.  Skip it.  Or at least skip the first half.  This kind of gorgeous is just too good to miss.  Cooler with increasing clouds Monday.  Rain starts sometime between 5PM Monday and noon on Tuesday.  Moderate rains should last 24 hours.  Say an inch plus.  Clearing and a little warming, perhaps the low 60s, for the rest of the work week.  Slight chance for precipitation after that.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Getting aggressive.

Well, kind of.  At least aggressive for the pattern and for the winter.  What I am talking about is the chance for a brief rain event here on the coast early next week.  Don't worry too much.  We are still in line for an excellent weekend, starting this afternoon.  If yesterday was any indication, things are going to warm up nicely.  The mercury was only reading about 64F yesterday, but that sun must be getting higher in the sky, because it felt more like t-shirt weather than sweater weather through the middle of the day Thursday.  More of that today and through the weekend.  If anything it will get a touch warmer and a bit less breezy.  Not that there was much wind yesterday.

Cowell's has been breaking since Thanksgiving.  Great way to close out the day.

The off shore wind event never really materialized this week, but it was overall fairly calm.  The exposed surf zones had some weirdness to it yesterday afternoon, but it was not hard to find some clean conditions up the coast.  Surf was fun.  Overhead, clean and warm.  More of that over the next few days as the current swell drops to chest high by Sunday.  It should also be a great weekend for snow sports.  Best bet is to follow the sun for the softening snow, or gamble with sticking to where the sun don't shine for some thin buff on top of ice.  Either way, moderate temperatures and light winds will make for some good times on the hill.  Looks like great touring weather to boot.

Natural Bridges has some great lagoons to spot birds.  Or spot people spotting birds.

Early next week, we see a large scale trough forming off the coast and dipping as far south as Mexico.   This thing looks to get large, but overall, not very powerful.  Still, looking like this storm will sneak underneath our blocking high.  And what does hit us will move through fairly quickly.  Accuracy of this forecast and timing of the event are still up for debate.  But the models have been trending toward this solution and we are now 3 1/2 days out, so we have decent confidence.  Showers could come from the west as early as Monday evening, but more likely arriving in the early morning hours Tuesday.  Rain persists thorough the day Tuesday.  Plan for the commute to last a bit longer.  Clearing over night.  During the rain event we should see daytime highs along the coast around 55F.  Things warm up to about 60F after the storm passes.  As it looks right now, this would be the only system for next week, but more storms will be forming off the coast.  These are expected to be deflected to the north by the high pressure.

Great weekend.  Go out and get some.  Rainy Tuesday, otherwise fair, mild weather.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Warm up slower and cooler, but still the trend.

From a few weeks ago.  Moonset over the Sierra Crest.
So, that little system that passed through Tuesday night and yesterday has had its effect.  No rain here in Santa Cruz, but is sure was breezy and cool.  The sun finally broke out downtown between 1 and 2PM< and things warmed up pretty quickly.  Before that it was chilly.  Up in the Sierra it was cold, and they got snow.  Yipeee!  Reports from a dusting to 6" in lee aspects have been reported.  Pretty much just a few inches, but enough for some zones to get a nice resurfacing.  If you head up in the next few days, look for gullies and other terrain features that can trap snow.  If you are going BC, do you best to choose aspects where there is good bonding and avoid sloughing what we have be lucky enough to get.  Should be fun up there this weekend.

And things get a little warmer today, but with the cold air in place from the past few days, it does not look to get quite as warm as previously thought.  Pretty much mid 60s or less is expected today through the weekend.  A mostly sunny sky should make it feel a bit warmers.  The light breezes should help as well.  A great weekend lay ahead, both for those down on the coast and those up in the hills.  It will be cool in the Sierra with about 40F at lake level, and similar up higher.  An inversion helps keep things warmer at elevation.  Get out there and enjoy the great weather.  You might even want plant something, considering how this winter has been so far.  Oh, and with this lack of rain, don't forget to water that garden.

Sunset at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

Mid term, things are looking some what interesting.  Remember how I said this blocking high is a bit different than what we had in December?  It is a bit further north, which allows for a few thing.  Cooler air can sneak underneath, so we are not consistently as warm.  Wind patterns make their way around, so we are not seeing quite the same slack or off shore winds.  And finally, storms can sometimes slip under the high.  And that could happen as early as next week.  Nothing is set in stone, but there are some models suggesting a cut off storm coming off the ocean next Monday evening and into Tuesday.  If this does happen, it will be weakening as it approaches, so it will not be a hugh rain or snow maker.  But it is rain, none the less.  It should be noted, until we see a pattern change, these potential systems will be fairly weak and quite mild.  But when you've had a winter like this one, they will be noticeable.  Keep an eye out.

For now, mostly sunny and warm.  63F is a good guess for the next few days.  41F at 7000 feet.  Cool nights in the high 30s to low 40s.  Low to mid 20s at 7k.  A bit of cooling next Monday, with a chance for rain on Tuesday.  More sun to follow.