Tuesday, March 28, 2017

5.5 Inches

We are nearing the end of a very wet winter season.  We are just five and one half inches of precipitation off the record for the Northern Sierra 8 Station Index.  In a average year, we get about 7 inches of rain between April 1st and the end of the water year on September 30th.  Last season we got over 10 inches during this period.  It makes sense that the northern half of the state is completely free of drought.  The only hanger on is the very souther portion of the state, which may see a slight shift when the new report comes out later this week.  Slight, as not much of last week's rain systems got that far south.

Sea Urchin, 4 Mile Beach, Santa Cruz.

We are on track for some fine weather this week.  It still looks like we will miss the rain here in Santa Cruz, but we have that outside chance for some light showers on Thursday.  Today is looking quite nice.  As is Wednesday.  The real humdinger will be on Saturday, as we are looking at possibly hitting 80F, with sun and possibly some lighter winds.

We are still looking at a return to inclement weather for the following week.  We are still 7 days out of the forecasts, but the models seems to have some agreement, and we are several runs into that agreement.  There is building confidence of some light rain early in the week, with moderate storms approaching late in the week.  Check back here for the latest.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Fair Few Days Ahead

There are still a few clouds out there this morning, but the sun is shining.  It is currently about 58F at noon, and we should hit the mid 60s this afternoon.  It will cool off some tonight with the clear sky, down into the mid 40s.  Tuesday and Wednesday we will get clear into the low 70s.  It would be stellar out of not for the moderate to strong northwest flow off the ocean.  Sure seems like spring.

Spring pow at Carson Pass, March 26th, 2017.

We do have a solid not very spring like swell hitting this afternoon with long period and some decent size.  About six foot of swell.  Well overhead by late today.  Too bad about those winds.  Still, should not be hard to find some decent surfing town over the next two days.  Cooler still expected to arrive on Thursday as a storm passes just to our north.  Looks this morning as if we will have a chance for showers on Thursday, clouds and a high back in the 60s.

Don't fret, as we rebound quick, with sun and very warm temps returning for Friday and the weekend.  Mid to upper 70s, then low 70s on Sunday.  And also don't expect an abrupt end to winter.  GFS this morning is looking very active for next week.  Can't be sure just yet how south the storm track will be, but we could see a few to several days of rain the first week of April.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trending Dryer and Warmer.

A quick Saturday evening post.  The storm for tomorrow evening is still in the books, but it is look quite a bit dryer.  About a tenth of an inch, perhaps a little more, late at night, perhaps after midnight and before sunrise on Monday.  I know; run on.  It will likely remain cool on Monday, in the mid 60s or a little armer than Sunday.  The morning on Monday will still have clouds, but sun should increase by afternoon and the starts will shine Monday night.  It will be cool as well, in the mid to low 40s.

Tuesday is looking pretty nice right now.  As is Wednesday.  Models are suggesting high pressure and warmth in the 70s.  A wave moving through to our north might cool us a bit Thursday, but the rain is looking to stay well north.  And east.  As it still right now we could see another long period of dry and warm weather settling in.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just a Hair Above Pi

3.16 inches of rain for Santa Cruz since the break in the dry weather.  Scotts Valley received 4.93 inches.  Interestingly enough, that squall we had the other morning that dropped nearly and inch in just over an hour, did not produce as much in Scotts Valley, but it otherwise rained much heavier there during these storms.  These storms did much better than forecast when it came to rainfall amounts.  While the ground has had a few weeks to dry out, it is still saturated and it dod not take long for water to be running in the streams and roads.  Still, there has not been any signs of significant flooding, as our water ways had a chance to clear.  We have a gorgeous day about to unfold, with sunshine, mild temps, light winds and a fun little swell in the water.  Thursday looks very nice.  The next storm upstream will not begin to affect us until sometime on Friday.

Kirkwood Valley, April 17, 2016.  There is about 15 more feet of snow on the ground right now.  

There seems to be some more agreement this morning that clouds will move in overnight.  The rain should hold off during the morning hours on Friday, but when this storm does hit, it will be fast and furious.  The bulk of this system is just to our north, where they will get hit hard on Friday afternoon. Here we can expect some strong winds in the morning, maybe going slack in the afternoon, with up to an inch of rain in town, with more in the mountains.  Rain continues overnight, but clears out quickly on Saturday morning.  Totals in town could exceed 1.5 inches.  So this is a quick, big hit.  Followed by a nice weekend.  Sun comes out, and we warm a bit

Rain looks like it will return on Sunday evening and last into Monday morning.  This storm is now looking to be a bit mellower, but as we have seen this week so far, spring time is hard to forecast.  Up until yesterday afternoon it looked like we would clear out for the week after Monday, but we now may be expecting some weak waves moving through.  Something to watch.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Squalls and Switcheroos

Last night between 3:10 and 4:10 in the morning, we had a pretty damn good rainfall.  More than 8/10th of an inch in that one hour period.  Impressive.  Kind of nice that one did not come through during the commute hours.  It is raining now, but at a much slower pace.  Yesterday, we received a total of just more than a half inch and we are already above 1.1 inches for today, getting us near a total of 3.3 inches this week.  That is significantly more than what I, and other outlets, forecast.  And these strong spring storms are not just here in Santa Cruz.  There is a water spout warming off shore, as well as hail warnings across the central part of the state.  I heard these storms were particularly strong in SF, in the central valley and along the west slope.  Last nights heavy rain system has not yet impacted the Sierra, but we are getting way more precipitation from  these storms than the ski resorts.  Squaw is reporting 6" yesterday and none over night, with Kirkwood at slightly more at 9", with 1" overnight.  They just are not making up to the crest before splitting apart.  We will need to watch today's system as it runs up the mountains.

As for us, we should see an end to the rain in the next few hours.  That does not mean we could not see a shower or two in the afternoon.  It just means that rain becomes much less likely by late morning.  Normally, I would say another tenth of an inch or so, but honestly, looking at the radar, it could easily top a quarter inch.  There are still some pretty strong cells near us.  After the rain, winds turn out of the west and could get gusty.  Sun pops out later today, and the high will be in the low 60s.  Could be a nice afternoon.  I bet a walk around Fall Creek would be nice.

Thursday will be a fine day.  No rain in the forecast.  Just a mostly sunny sky, and mild temperatures.  Again in the low 60s, but with more sun out, it should feel quite pleasant.  We are even expecting mimimcl winds, with a slight on shore in the afternoon.  The switcheroo for this week is having the Friday storm back to arriving earlier.  My confidence in timing is low.  The models have moved the timing of this system back and forth over a 18 hour period.  If today's runs are accurate, this storm would be arriving during the day Friday and gone by Saturday morning.  It also suggest a weakening system as it arrives.  Last Sunday this looked like the biggest system of the week.  Now it looks like the smallest.  For planning purposes, expect rain as early as noon on Friday, and possibly as late as sunset in Saturday.  And plan for two tenths to and inch plus of rain.  More on this tomorrow.

We see a quick break and then another storm for Sunday night.  Currently this is looking moderate, and lasting into Monday.  Then clear through Thursday, with another system possible next Friday and Saturday.  We are certainly getting our spring showers.  And for all ya'll who are bummed about the return to rain, after we are out of drought, remember these two things.  First, the aquifers are not full, and we still need more rain to replenish our ground water in the state.  And second, the later in the season that we receive moderate rain, the greener the landscape come summer, the less dust in the air, and the shorter the long period each year when we get no rain at all.  Spring rain for the win!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waaaaaay Overproduces.

Early afternoon yesterday saw the early arrival of steady rain that then lasted through much of the night.  Here on the west side we are currently sitting at 1.65 inches of rain, with more bands still on the radar.  This is a bit more than the quarter inch that that the GFS forecasted, even with its earlier start.  Looking at the radar this morning, I'd expect sporadic rain showers throughout the day.  Some of these could be thunderstorms and produce hail.  I'm still thinking about a quarter inch through the day, even though we had that significant rain last night.  That said, if one of these bands stalls on us, that quarter inch could easily shift to the half inch plus plus range.  We are still supposed to see another round of heavy rain starting this evening, which could bring close to an inch of rain.  We should easily break the two inch total mark by tomorrow morning.  Maybe pushing in on three.  BTW, it is raining much harder in the mountains with nearly double our town totals in Scotts Valley.

Wednesday the rain should let up by mid day, and we are still expecting that sun to come out later in the day.  Thursday looks dry and pleasant.  Currently, it still looks like the next system is to arrive sometime Friday afternoon and last through Saturday morning.

It is warm up in the mountains right now.  Most resorts received rain at the base.  Squaw is reporting 2" of snow at High Camp.  Wet snow.  Kirkwood is reporting 4"at the top and 3" at the base.  And it will snow up in them parts most of the day.  We should be looking at a foot of dense snow by the end of the day.  Moderate winds blowing, so that will help smoothie out the mountain.

Hope ya'll are ready for a wet day and a wet week.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Let's Call it Moderate.

The models are calling for rain to start sometime after dark.  This morning we already have a brisk southerly breeze, so it would not be outlandish if we saw some rain earlier in the day.  Still, after looking at radar, I am thinking we will get through most of the day dry.  By this evening, we should first see some moderate steady rain, slowly turning to more shower weather by Tuesday morning.  This is not a big storm, and with some luck, we could get a quarter inch over night.  The light rain will continue into the day Tuesday, but we are not looking at a heavy deluge, so we may see some breaks and dryer periods.  I would still plan for wet weather through the day Tuesday, especially in the morning.  Overall, we are looking at less than a half inch of rain here in town and about that amount in the mountains. We then follow with a short break on Tuesday night.  Temps will be cool through the period, with lows in the low 50s and highs in the low 60s.

The models diverge a bit on the arrival of round 2.  It will likely bring with it colder air, arriving either Wednesday or very early Thursday.  As it is now, I am thinking it will be dry, but cloudy Wednesday morning, with light showery weather, especially to our north and south by mid day.  That rain fills in more overnight, and we could see brief, heavier rain for early Thursday morning.  This should clear out by late morning Thursday, and we could see the sun peak out before it sets.  The highs will be just about 60F, and the lows drop back into the upper 40s.  We could see another quarter inch with this system.

There is even more model divergences with the third storm coming in for the week on Friday.  The GFS has pushed it back another twelve hours, with the storm arriving on Friday night, into Saturday morning.  If this is correct, we could have a pleasant day on Friday, with some sunshine and associated warming.  Not that much warming, as clouds will for sure be filled in by mid day.  This system is looking slightly stronger than the combo earlier in the week, but recent model runs have cut back on that strength.  The rain will be heaviest here Friday night (according to the GFS) and just to our south by Saturday morning.  We are looking at about another half inch.

A fourth system could be coming our way for Sunday evening, into next Monday.  This currently looks like the mildest of all the storms, but is still a week away.  Overall, we are looking at about an inch and a half of precipitation over this coming week.  Pretty minimal by this winter's standards.  But, of course, it is spring, so, perhaps, this is the new norm for the spring.  Light to moderate rain, with breaks in between.  As it stands now, it looks like we could get sun next week.

Before I close it out, just wanted to mention that less than 10% of the state is still in drought, with just about 1% of that listed as Severe.  We still have nearly another 15% Abnormally Dry, but we have come a long way this winter.  Hopefully we can not look at our state's infrastructure and start preparing for the next big drought.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wet-like week ahead.

It has cooled off some, but we still had very pleasant weather on Saturday.  Fog starts us off this Sunday morning, and when that burns off it will reveal clouds.  We stay firmly in the 60s today.  The work week looks fun, with two different storm systems trying to impact our region.  There is rain to our north today and that should persist.  It does not move south until late on Monday, when the axis turns as the storm begins to move ashore.  It will bullseye to ur north, but we should see a decent amount of rain here in Santa Cruz.  It arrives late Monday and will be steady for a few hows overnight, then we see more sporadic showers during the day Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Actually, looking at the last 24 hours worth of GFS runs, it is hard to foretell what will happen mid week.  The latest run suggests about an inch of rain between Monday night and mid day Wednesday.  We see a short break from there until mid day Friday, but during this break, we could still have showers as the air mass will remain active.  Going into this next weekend, we could see a significant storm arriving Friday and building in strength towards night fall.  Over an inch if forecast to fall mid day Friday through the Sunday morning.  Then we see another break.  I say break, as the current models runs suggest more storms coming in next week.  All of this needs to be fine tuned, so check back here Monday morning for an update.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Summer or Winter?

It was a beautiful run of warm, sunny winter days, then, it seemed summer arrived, with fog moving in, and settling in the low spots.  The fog has burned off this afternoon, and a moderate NW wind has kicked up. So very summer.  This does not last long.  Even though we are fast approaching the final days of our winter, the season is not yet ready to give up it's grip.

It stays mild for the next few days.  Low 70s, upper 60s will be the range today and tomorrow, and through the weekend.  The first in a series of storms being pushed ashore will arrive late on Saturday.  This one will be mostly to our north, keeping things on the warmer side, and keeping any rainfall on the lighter side. We could see light showers pass through Saturday night, clearing Sunday morning. A tenth of an inch or so. Afternoon temps will settle more clearly in the upper 60s for both days.  The clouds never fully clear out before more move in on Monday, along with cooler air.  Highs will drop in the low to mid 60s.

The low Monday night will still hang in the low 50s, but likely overnight, or sometime Tuesday morning the second storm for the week should arrive.  It could be gusty winds out of the south, and moderate rainfall.  Not heavy rainfall, just a few tenths through the day and into Tuesday night, and into Wednesday, and perhaps Wednesday evening.  Totals could add up to 3/4 of an inch.  I'll watch this, as that is up from a few days ago.  And there is much more rain expected in coastal mountains north of Marin.  If that shifts south, it could be wetter.

Thursday morning looks like it will be in between storms.  It is going to hang off shore for a bit, to pick up some moisture, and make sure we have not forgotten what winter is like.  It comes ashore Thursday evening, and by Friday morning it looks like heavy rain here in Santa Cruz.  It currently looks like it will last through Friday night at least, with a total of a couple inches.  It won't clear, but slowly breakdown, during the day Saturday.  Sunday looks clear.  This storm is 7-9 days away, and it is spring time.  Confidence is low in the forecast, but certainly something to pay attention to.  If it does come to pass, we could see a return to driving issues in the state.  Stay tuned folks.  Here she comes for week.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mild, For Now.

Mild might be the wrong word.  We peaked at 84F on the west side yesterday with a full 5 hours above 80F.  Not too shabby for mid March and technically still in winter.  We were still at 56F at midnight last night and currently hovering at just about 50F.  Yesterday morning was a bit cooler. Today looks similiar.  Put on some sunblock and get out there and pick up some vitamin C.  This won't last for ever.  Summer will be here soon enough.  But before then, we will see a storm move through to our north this week, bringing rain to the northern portions of the state, and cooling us down a bit.  Wednesday and Thursday will drop down into the upper 60s, perhaps low 70s.  It will be 10-15 degrees cooler than today.  Noticeable.  But no rain for us locally.  Perhaps a bit more breeze.  There will be some clouds, and even fog for Wednesday.  Partly sunny and clearing on Thursday.

We rebound back into the low 70s for Friday with a mostly clear sky. Should be pleasant.  By Saturday, another system moves in from the north.  This one a bit closer.  We could see some breezy conditions and more cloud cover.  Rain is not likely here on the coast.  The Sierra could get some light rain and snow.  But, again, not likely. Clouds are though.  And some wind.  This system takes the weekend to move through.  After that we get barely a short break as we are looking at a possible return to rain as early as Monday night.

There are several systems lining up on the models for next week, with bigger, wetter systems for the middle of next week.  Nothing like the deluge of early this winter, but something to plan for.  Moderate rainfall for Central California and only very light rainfall for the still drought stricken portion of the state to our south.  At this point it looks to clear out by the weekend of March 24.  As we move through the next few days, we will start getting more details on these coming storms.  Winter is still here folks.  And spring can be quite wet as well.  If you recall, March 2011 was a very wet month.  And April, May and June continued to have strong storms that year.  Stay vigilant.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


It hit 75F today on Walnut and King.  It was warm.  Gorgeous weather.  So lucky are we to get this break after such a long period of cold and rain.  The snow that fell on the Santa Lucia does not look like it lasted long.  It was thin and things got warm.  Expect the West Slope rivers to get up to speed with a March thaw over the next few days.  It will be about 70F along the coast, with it noticeably warmer in pockets just inland.  It hit 83F in Scotts Valley today, for instance.  The Central Valley was not as warm.  It is kind of the opposite as summer time.  The cold air in winter pools in the valley, and it takes a lot more energy to warm up that entire zone.  Lodi topped off at 76F.  Fun little fact that we tend to get the warmest warm days in winter, right down by the coast.  These warm days look to continue right through the start of next work week.  By mid week, we could see some cooling as the storm track tries t move south.  No real consensus on storms or weather a week out.  Slight chance a shift back to wetter weather by next Friday, March 15th, seems like the call at this point.  But, this stuff, now?  Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spring Transistions

Spring does not begin for another two weeks, but as far as weather patterns go, we are in the spring transition period.  It is a difficult time of year to forecast more than a few days out.  What is even more interesting is how it can be fair in Santa Cruz and armageddon in the Sierra.  Sunday would be an example.  We spent the day romping around the Pogonip, occasionally feeling a cold drop of rain, but rarely two in a row.  Rainbows were the name of the game, and while it was quite chilly out, it was far from stormy.  That very same day the three hour drive from South Lake Tahoe to Concord took a friend 13 hours.  With Interstate 80 closed, the entire basin had to exit down 50, creating insane back ups.  Add to that swirling snow, strong winds, whiteout conditions and hidden (cause white on white is basically invisible) snow berms and things conspired to create one of the worst driving days of the winter.  And we were enjoying rainbows.

A good amount of snow fell in the Sierra.  Kirkwood was reporting upward of three feet.  With 88 closed in both directions, this sounds about right.  Ski resorts will be opening additional post storm terrain today.  It was a cold storm.  And while the sun and warmth of mid week will turn much of that to spring conditions by the weekend, we are in the midst of an epic winter.  I'd expect that it won't just be ceasing on the 20th.  Although, the rest of the work week certainly looks fair.  As well as the weekend.

Forecast trend is for the storm track to remain to our north in the PNW.  They should have a week of heavy precipitation.  The track moves north, allowing some warming into the upper 60s mid week, but by Friday, the tack dips a bit further south, suppressing warming.  Expect mid 60s Friday and Saturday, with possibly some brisk cool winds. Cooler on Sunday and Monday.  Mostly sunny through the period, but some clouds running over head possible Friday night.

Thursday we could be in the low 70s.  So, if you are craving a beach day, find a wind protected cove and get your tan on.  Regardless, it will be nice and warm.  Remember sunblock!

Monday, March 6, 2017

As Forecast.

Did I forget to emphasize how chilly it would be?  It was sure crisp out yesterday.  We went for one of our usual hikes, and while we were moving quite briskly, it was still cold with a flannel on through mid day.  Still, it was a fantastic day for a hike.  Wonderful winter light, running water and a pair of foxes made it quite nice.  Also having mostly a break in the rain helped as well, as when the few drops did fall, they were very cold drops. There was chatter about snow at the summit.  Snow levels were down to about 1500 feet at times over the past 36 hours.  I'm hoping when the weather clears by late today we might see some brief white capped mountains.  It would be brief, only because we would not accumulate enough snow for things to stick with this system.

Chilly this morning, but reasonable.  40F here in town.  In the mid to upper 30s in the local mountains.  It is 14F this morning at Kirkwood.  So not super cold.  Some light to moderate showers are falling this morning.  These will likely be short lived, but a thin spotty band is effecting from the middle of Monterey Bay and up the I80 corridor.  We might collect a tenth of an inch more.  All told, the region received from a few tenths of an inch up to a half inch, from the rain Saturday night through today.  Today, Monday, will be mostly cloudy, with breaks toward afternoon.  We could see some light showers.  Highs will stick in the mid to upper 50s.

Clouds continue to thin this evening, a the low will again be about 40F.  Then we go into a quick warming trend, with a high by Wednesday in the upper 60s.  The storm track remains quite active, just to our north, suppressing warming.  We will settle into the mid 60s on Thursday and Friday with continued sunshine.  We could see more clouds on Friday, and a chance for light rain as early as Friday night and into the weekend.

Models are continuing to suggest a return to a rainy period by and during next week.  I'll keep an eye on these systems, and as of this point have little confidence in outcomes.  Even the weather for this coming weekend is still a little too far out to forecast.  Check back here.

Friday, March 3, 2017


Nearly three fourths of the state is completely out of drought, or listed as Normal.  Of that 25 plus percent that is not Normal, about half of it is listed as Abnormally Dry, with almost nine percent is in Moderate Drought and the remaining four percent is still listed in Severe Drought.  This is good news, but that is still 4% that is severe, and that happens to be along the coast near Santa Barbara.  We do have rain coming in for the weekend, but most of it will fall in the areas listed as Normal.

It looks like the rain will return tomorrow.  Before we move into that, I just want to take a moment to appreciate how warm it was today.  It got up to 69F here on the west side of town and topped off at 75F in Scotts Valley.  It was nice.  It will be cooler tomorrow.  Much cooler.  A cold front will hit and keep temps from getting out of the 50s tomorrow.  The day will start cloudy, and we should have rain falling before dark.  This swift mover will come in strong and could drop a half inch before daylight on Sunday.  Sunday morning will start in the mid 40s and warm to the mid 50s as rainfall lightens through the day.  Rain should back off before dark, and the winds will gust out of west during the day.  We could see some 30mph westerlies.  Strong, but nothing like those last two storms. Sunday night will be chilly.  We could see some showers.  We could see some stars.  Temps will drop in the 30s.  How many stars we see will likely determine how cold it gets.

Monday the models diverge.  I'm feeling the sunshine returning.  Some suggest drizzle.  Everyone clears things out by Tuesday night, which will be a cold one again.  High pressures works to keep storms jus to our north and east through the next work week.  So we could continue to see some clear and cool weather.  GFS has an inside slider hitting the Tahoe region next Friday, but we remain dry.  The winter is still active, and we could be see a train of more significant storms arriving late next weekend, starting around the night of Sunday, March 12th.  This is way out in fantasy land, but there are some big storms on the charts for that week.  Stay vigilant.  This weekend will be winter lite.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Relax, It Is Still Winter.

This sunshine is amazing.  It has coupled with a colder air mass, best felt early in the morning.  It is currently 37F out side my house at 6:45AM.  Crispy, as my son likes to say.  Things warm up nicely through the middle of the day with that abundant sun shine.  Mid 60s is the call for today.  Tuesday hit 66.6F.  Scary, eh?  Similiar weather continues through the work week.  There is not much swell in the water, and the winds are kind of spring like out of the northwest, but the weather will be fine.  And morning conditions decent.  There is a little bit of early season south out there if you are up for chasing waves.

By Friday, we begin to see a system push out of the Gulf of Alaska, bringing brisk winds on Saturday and wet weather by Sunday.  The models keep ramping this one up, and we could be looking at a half to nearly and inch of rain late in the weekend.  The storm currently looks like it will wrap itself up prior to sunrise on Monday.  The commute could be rough, but after 10 days with less than a quarter inch of rain, the ground might be ready to absorb much of that water as it falls.  How cool would that be?

Models keep flipping around, but next week I think will be mostly dry again.  Like I said, models keep flipping, which is not an oddity as we move into spring.  It does look like by the following weekend, we could see a return to rain and storms.  As it is March, and we are looking at fantasy models, I do not hold any confidence for anything after next Monday.  For now, enjoy the sun, mid day warmth and prepare for rain on Sunday.