Typical early autumn conditions prevail; some thoughts on La Niña

Filed in Uncategorized by on October 5, 2017 2,826 Comments

A pretty typical early start to autumn across California

Warmer than average conditions have persisted near the immediate coast, but temperatures have cooled over inland areas (and the Sierra Nevada in particular). (WRCC)

For the first time in many months, California has been experiencing weather conditions pretty close to the climatological norm for the time of year. After a summer of searing, record-breaking heat, the past few weeks have featured temperatures relatively close to typical early autumn values across much of the state (temperatures have actually been somewhat below average across interior portions of the state, particularly across the Sierra Nevada, where the season’s first dusting of snow fell last week). In a welcome reversal from the relentless inland heat this summer, conditions have been warmer than average only along the immediate coastline–not an unusual fall set-up in California.

Generalized statewide warming will occur over the next few days, and some late-season heat will occur over near-coastal portions of central and southern California this weekend as offshore flow develops. In fact, gusty hilltop winds and very low humidity will lead to fire weather concerns this weekend in the Bay Area and Southern California coastal hills. But a gradual cool-down back toward typical values is expected once again later next week, and perhaps even a bit below average after that. These relatively mild temperature swings–with occasionally breezy conditions–are the product of “inside slider” type low pressure systems dropping southward over the Great Basin. These systems are unlikely to bring any significant precipitation to California over the next 1-2 weeks, and conditions look dry for the foreseeable future across most of the state.

An Pacific ridge plus increasing offshore pressure gradients will lead to warm, dry, and gusty conditions this weekend across coastal California. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

 

What’s up with October precipitation in California?

There’s often much consternation on the part of California weather watchers when dry conditions persist during the month of October. It’s certainly true that October is often the transition month between California’s long, dry summers and (usually) wet winters, and almost always brings cooler nights, milder days, and a general sense that winter is coming. However, autumn in California is also characterized by dramatic year-to-year swings that ultimately have little bearing on conditions during the rainy season that follows. (A quick analysis using data from NOAA confirms that the correlation between October and December-February statewide precipitation is a minuscule, and not statistically meaningful, 0.09).

October precipitation in California is usually quite low, except for occasional very wet years. (NOAA data; graphic by Daniel Swain)

Why, then, is there so much excitement over what happens during the month of October? My best guess is that our collective perception of what constitutes a “typical October” is strongly shaped by a quirk of California climatology. The historical precipitation distribution during this month exhibits a strong “rightward skew”–in other words, there are many more dry Octobers than wet ones overall, but when October is wet, it can be quite wet indeed. The more general statement that there are “more dry years than wet years” holds true across California, but this effect seems to be particularly pronounced in early autumn. The reason? October tends to be dominated by essentially “summer-like” high pressure during most years, with relatively modest precipitation outside of the northernmost part of the state. Every 5-10 years, however, October can become very wet month indeed–and some notably powerful early-season storms have affected Northern California in recent years. Anecdotally, there does seem to be a link between “recurving” West Pacific super typhoons and California’s occasional very wet Octobers, but that’s a discussion for another day.

 

La Niña now developing in Pacific; what can we say about upcoming winter?

The Multi-Model Ensemble suggests rather classic La Nina conditions this winter, plus very warm conditions in the subtropical Pacific. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

A substantial La Niña event now appears to be developing in the tropical Pacific Ocean. There were hints of this in the coupled ocean-atmosphere models this summer, though the magnitude appears to have been underestimated. In any case, there is now a general consensus that the now-established cool ocean temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific will persist through most of the upcoming winter. Concurrently warm temperatures in the far western Pacific (and a much broader area of anomalous warmth in the subtropical North Pacific) have the potential to reinforce a fairly classic “La Niña-like” atmospheric response this winter by further strengthening the west-east tropical temperature differential.

What does all of this mean for California? Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question in the wake of two very conspicuous seasonal forecast failures over the past two winters in California. The very powerful El Niño event in 2015-2016 yielded a dry winter in southern California, and the ENSO-neutral winter just last year was one of the wettest on record across northern portions of the state. Both of these outcomes were contrary to expectations, and there has recently been a surge in scientific inquiry regarding why this might have happened.

Current multi-model forecasts suggest an slightly increased likelihood of dry conditions later this winter in/near California. (CPC)

While the jury is still out (and analyses are still underway–peer reviewed science tends to proceed slowly relative to shifting weather patterns!), leading contenders are 1) the unusually broad pattern of ocean warming in recent winters and 2) just plain old “bad luck.” In other words: it is possible that the atmospheric response to ocean temperature variations caused by El Niño/La Niña is now different than it would have been if the subtropical Pacific hadn’t been so warm in recent years. But scientists have also known for a long time that ENSO, despite being the single strongest indicator regarding California precipitation on the seasonal scale, is far from the only game in town. It may well be that other influences were simply more important in recent years, essentially drowning out the ENSO influence.

Nevertheless, there is still very strong theoretical and observational evidence that El Niño and La Niña do indeed exert a substantial and somewhat predictable influence upon California winter precipitation. In practice, this influence is large enough to influence seasonal forecasts only during moderate to strong El Niño/La Niña events, and that influence is strongest 1) in Southern California and 2) during the second half of winter (especially late January, February, and March).

Warm conditions likely this fall, per NMME forecasts. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

Cooler conditions may edge toward California later this winter. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

So what about this year? Well, it looks like La Niña may indeed reach at least moderate strength over the next couple of months and will have a rather “classic” presentation across the tropical Pacific, suggesting that there may be an elevated risk of drier than average conditions during the second half of winter, particularly across Southern California. This is a conclusion supported by current seasonal model forecasts, but only weakly. Temperature wise, there is near unanimity that the autumn will be quite warm on average across California (apparently a product of very warm ocean temperatures over the subtropical Pacific Ocean). Later in the winter, however, there is also agreement regarding a trend toward a more La Niña-like temperature pattern–with below average temperatures across the Pacific Northwest possibly extending into California. (Interestingly, seasonal temperature forecasts tend to do much better than precipitation forecasts in the presence of a significant La Niña event. The presence of persistent North Pacific high pressure is the classic atmospheric response to La Niña, which reliably allows cold air to spill southward from Alaska/Canada but only sometimes blocks the Pacific storm track sufficiently to prevent rain to California).

So, to sum it all up: a moderately strong La Niña event this winter will tilt the odds slightly in favor of a dry second half of winter, especially in the south. Autumn temperatures will likely be above average, but winter temperatures may trend back toward or below average.

 

“Climate Change Cliff Notes” interactive discussion on Thursday, October 5

I’ll be having a free-form conversation on climate change (with a California focus) with Sarah Feakins and Michael Mann tonight at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. The (free) tickets for this event sold out weeks ago, but there will be some limited availability for those who show up at the door. If you are interested but can’t attend (or make it in the door), the event will also be livestreamed via the web on the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability’s Facebook page starting at 7pm.

 

  • weathergeek100

    Looks like quite the offshore end event setting up here in the Bay Area tonight. I get weird reactions from people when I tell them these winds are absolutely no different than the santa anas of SoCal. I basically tell them this IS a Santa Ana. I did find out a while back on this blog that they’re called the diablo winds but that name isn’t as well known to locals as the Santa Anas down south. Whatever. It’ll be interesting to see how low the humidity gets here on the coast.

    Honestly, I hate this weather. Dry skin and dry nose is the worst. Your allergies can also get exacerbated. I really hope there will eventually be some signs of our rainy season beginning soon.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      Not as common a name as the Santa Ana winds some do call them Diablo Winds.

    • Jason Jackson Willamette

      In addition to the dryness, the air quality here in San Jose was horrid today. Could barely make out the East Bay hills and the Santa Cruz mountains. Dusty winds coming across from the central valley, where NE winds have been blowing for a few days. Hopefully we’ll clear out soon!

      • Air quality in SF and East Bay was great today, perfect bluang wx, even better than Friday.

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      & the Diablos they are…

  • Thunderstorm

    Wind at 0 MPH and no direction Fremont by the SF bay.

  • Nathan

    Can someone please explain how and why surface Highs form?

  • MetaGhost (Berkeley)

    Magical moonrise last night over Northern Capay valley. The bright orb rose and illuminated the hills in an unworldly manner. The temperature was perfect, the air still and live Mexican polka music (as I called it) filled the air.

    Woke up from camping this a.m. to the very strong winds that picked up the agricultural dust of northern Interstate 5 and brought to an air quality reading near you. Before departure, it had the feel of a sand storm in the Sahara.

    Beautiful weekend though.

  • AntiochWx

    Today was very dusty, the incredible haze was something I haven’t seen around these parts. I can only image how people in the dust bowl felt.

  • Fairweathercactus

    It is expected to be 90 in my area tomorrow. Looks like the cool down has been pushed back 2 days.

  • cthenn
  • Eddie Garcia

    today it felt like I was in the Atacama Desert, really dry and dusty.

  • Chris

    The most nasty dust I have ever experienced today.
    We were in th boat leaving SF and then hit this “wall” of north winds filled with dust by the time we got to Pittsburg.
    Can’t farmers just lightly sprinkle their tilled fields and just ban rototilling their fields altogether during strong wind events???
    To think that if the earth was untouched, it would have been crystal clear today.

  • Latest from Cliff Mass if one is interested in a possible reason why NOAA is still behind most all other world numerical wx models.
    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2017/10/us-numerical-weather-is-still-behind.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&m=1

  • jstrahl

    I noticed what looked like a cloud looking north from Berkeley, quite large, but funny color, like a fire but no smoke, and all by itself in an otherwise clear sky. So was that a dust cloud, as per some accounts below?
    Edit: Never mind, it was the American Canyon Fire.

    • MetaGhost (Berkeley)

      Yes, based on driving thru the 5/505 area. Dust everywhere and wind blowing hard. Car is covered.

    • Lol no it wasn’t. It was the smoke from the blue angels. I know because it stuck around all day – I watched it from 2-7pm and it dissipated in super slow motion . On Friday I got a marvelous time lapse of the airshow and the smoke rolling over Berkeley, I am cutting the footage together from Friday with the stuff I just shot today, I hope to post it later. That smoke really stuck around north and south of the Bay Bridge.

      • jstrahl

        So why did it look like the photo tomocean posted 7 hours ago, and responded to as being that fire? 🙂

  • Rainmaker (San Jose)
  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
    • Dan the Weatherman

      I don’t think it is going to be in the 20’s anywhere in the Bay Area, unless you mean high temps are going to be in the 20’s Celsius.

    • Rainmaker (San Jose)

      I still don’t believe the forecast of these low temperatures, especially with this thing NW off our coast. This is 96 hours out i think
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5032316af5895b69ace924c70b7c61944270d7a023a9693d5eab37d86400e475.png

      • Dan weather maniac (ORINDA)

        Eeeeek. That’s reminds of the ridge that shall not be named.

      • AntiochWx

        I believe it, calm clear nights with a slight north wind. Look at the 500hPa level, have a cold trough sweeping from the north, temps should be below average during this time.

      • Thirstier Nick (Santa Maria)

        Die, evil ridge!

    • jstrahl

      I saw that yesterday and today as well. The cloud to the north didn’t look like that, as i responded to you below.

    • Nathan

      sweet shot

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Yikes KTVU reporting three separate fires breaking out in Napa County, one in the Atlas Peak Area. Winds are just picking up and humidity continues to fall.

    • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

      Any near Occidental or Monte Rio?

      • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

        Calistoga and Napa Area…all CalFire resources in the Lake Napa unit (LNU) have been told to head to Napa County for assignments.

    • alanstorm

      Driving north on the 101 at Healdsburg, NE winds currently blowing the crap out of everything, debris, branches being blown about.
      Boxtruck being buffeted like a tennis ball in a clothes dryer.
      Just ran over a cardboard box in the fast lane

    • Jim (Watsonville)

      Listening to it on a online scanner…multiple structures on fire and multiple entrapments…also multiple fires in Butte County with one over 600 acres in a very short time with winds 40+

    • Chris

      You notice when the NWS issues Red Flag warmings, that’s when pyromanics tend to start wildfires?
      It’s almost like the warnings act as a “heads up” to those type of people.

  • Was going through todays shots, noticed the air was clear enough for this highlighted shockwave to be visible:
    https://i.imgur.com/SBrisRX.jpg

  • Anyone have a link for the Modis Heat Signature map? I am not able to find it online.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
    • Nathan

      How on earth do they start so readily? Such total carelessness.

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        Some are comparing the flare ups to the firestorms of ’07 & ’03 here in SoCal… That is just terrifying.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        I am wondering if there are arsonists out there just waiting for prime fire conditions to occur in order to set these types of fires. I always think of this when there are many fires in a relatively small area such as the 5 fires currently burning in the Napa Valley area.

        • I agree.

        • Henry

          I think the state of California should update its criminal justice codes to impose the death penalty on arsonists who intentionally set destructive wildfires. Anthony Kennedy please don’t get in the way.

      • Jim (Watsonville)

        Quite a few were by downed powerlines…i was listening to a online scanner

    • Yikes!

  • alanstorm

    LAKE COUNTY FIRE:
    1000 acres burning towards town of Clearlake, reverse 911 evacuation orders for many, evacuation center request, hiway 20 closed at Sulfer Banks “will need huge resource order” – all per scanner traffic Lake Co Fire EMS
    This looks to impact many- terrible!!

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      Sadly dead in the middle of the night it is all burning southwest quickly…

  • It has warmed up 8 degrees here in the past hour. With wind starting up.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
    • Dan the Weatherman

      I wonder if the Santa Anas in Socal will be delayed a bit with the winds continuing in Norcal tonight? The flow is still onshore down here and it has actually been overcast here in Orange tonight with the marine layer.

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        There is actually a very weak disturbance, or some sort of surface low pushing SW through SoCal this evening that has been enhancing the onshore flow a bit, and this was consistently noted by both models to occur early on (I briefly made mention of it to someone a few days ago, might’ve been Craig) & I was noting that as it pushes out across the bight it will actually move into a position to further enhance northeasterly flow on it’s NE quadrant as the winds push in out of the Great Basin through the early morning hours. I’m expecting a drastic change ahead soon.

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

    Winds beginning to pick up from the northeast now here in SoCal & dew points beginning to decrease. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4525f0d506b2e4f46a386011c2a0f56594df2aa83650c7797ba25e8db37e6efb.png

  • Smells horrible Orinda @ 4 am, left the window cracked and room is smoky – I suppose it’s for the better as the sunrise is going to be fiery no pun intended, anyone reading this and capable of getting up to see it won’t be disappointed.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      Between the fires in Napa/Sonoma and there’s a smalle one in Wildcat Canyon which I am sure you’re picking up on.

    • Dan weather maniac (ORINDA)

      Absolutely awful night, terrible smell and bone dry.

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    As was pointed out below the fires around Nor Cal very reminiscent of fires in So Cal now including a fire in Santa Rosa…a major metro area of over 100k people. Strike teams from all over being requested code 3. Hospitals being evacuated and local residents being asked if possible to,pitch in and help.

    There’s also a large fire spreading in the Grass Valley as well. The red flag warning still has 24 hours to go!

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      PIO just said the LNU Cal Fire unit is working 7 major fires and trying to evacuate ppl. Plus fires in Mendocino, Butte, Yuba, El Dorado Natl Forest and Grass Valley. Massive resource orders coming from all over the state and Nevada headed in.

  • alanstorm

    I’m evacuated, jyst after I got home from driving up thru huge winds on Coverdale. Fires burning out of control Redwood Valley Potter Valley, saw it glowing up the valley, all cell phones internet went dead. Got the cats, chainsaws, other stuff. Woke some neighbors. Down in town at my wife’s rental that has WiFi. No cell service .
    Was blowing towards me until about 5, then blew away, lucky for us, not lucky for others. Going up to get my 3 other vehicles off the mountain. Winds will pick up again today, no way they get this contained soon, I & neighbors are staying away until it’s over

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      Stay safe, pictures being shown are scary and intense.

      • alanstorm

        Once I could hear the BOOM of exploding propane tanks which meant homes burning, it was freakout time.
        Santa Rosa is in real trouble!!!! OMG!!

        • tomocean

          It’s a catastrophic fire event in that entire area. Looks like a string of four separate fires burning all the way from your area down to Santa Rosa. The video of the Santa Rosa hospital evacuating patients with flames all around, is awful.

          • Alice Paul (LA)

            I think there’s at least 7 fires nows.

    • Dan weather maniac (ORINDA)

      Wow stay safe. A friend of ours old place in Angwin burned down. Crazy.

    • PRCountyNative

      Good luck be safe!

  • alanstorm
  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    The reports coming from Santa Rosa are crazy and scary….reports the fire is over 20k acres, jumped 101 and unconfirmed reports it’s now burning Coddingtown Mall. A large mall in Santa Rosa..

    • inclinejj

      Fountaingrove Inn has burned according to KPIX 5

      • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

        I was wondering about that, IIRC that’s near the Kaiser hospital that was evacuated earlier and the Inn is mostly made of wood.

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Fire is Sonoma is making a run towards Sonoma/Sears point Raceway. Initial command post for Napa Fire was at Silverado CC….yesterday they finished up the Safeway Open now they’ve been evacuated. Also unconfirmed reports that the Santa Rosa fire is pushing south towards RP and the Sonoma State area.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    Very strong smell of smoke, smells like a fire is nearby but it’s all the way in Santa Rosa near 101 where I’m suppose to be driving on tmrw

  • Apotropaic

    This air quality is really terrible! Diablo was barely visible from Marin. At least there was a bit of breeze by the immediate coast. Hope the rains come soon and put an end to fires and smoke.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d6513556b1f97e3f307c6a5c9d0ce39b02c5571231a6b88ffb89f4660141aac9.jpg

  • Idaho Native

    Horrifically bad air and ash falling in So. Marin county. Anyone have good sources for what the winds/wind direction will do for the rest of today?

  • Mark (Sac)
    • Cap’n

      My eyes are drawn to that mushy left and the wave outside…

  • Cap’n

    Thoughts go out to Californians dealing with these fires. I appreciate the updates here on the blog as I don’t have cable. It almost seems like a Twitter is the way to go these days? I don’t tweet but there’s a first time for everything. Obviously the winds were way worse closer to the coast than they were here. It was breezy last night but nothing big. NOAA is showing Donner Lake at 19F but I had 27F at my house at 7 am. But it is crisp and it is dry.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      As for Twitter, many ppl join to use it as a news source and don’t post. Most breaking news seems to go there first now.

      Side note, there were reports that Blue Canyon Airport had a rH of -2? I am not sure how you can have a negative rH but that is a first for me.

      • Cap’n

        You’re right it seems that is the way to go. I have Sling TV but that only came with CNN which is all Trump, all the time. Good luck down there.

        • AlTahoe

          I signed up for Twitter last year. The ski resorts and highway patrol only seem to report current conditions through that medium now days.

          • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

            In the Tahoe area most local FDs use twitter (North Tahoe does a great job), CHP Truckee and SLT, Caltrans Dist 3, Washoe County SO, and NHP are do a good job updating conditions.

          • Cap’n

            I agree with you guys. From the Twitter posts I’ve seen on here it is clearly the way to go for up to date news. CHP via Twitter is more on the money than the actual Caltrans website for 80 conditions during the winter. I’m sold, I guess I’ll look into becoming Tweeter.

          • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

            One other resource is Nixle- Truckee PD, Truckee Fire, and North Tahoe fire all use it. You reiceve a text message based on the zip code you sign up with.

        • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

          check out NewsON if you have a Roku for streaming-KCRA, KGO, KRNV among others for local news. Works pretty well.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        That might have been the dew point. The dew point can go below zero in an extremely dry air mass.

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      As a long time active user of Twitter, it’s your best way to go, just have to make sure to follow the right accounts.

  • Thunderstorm

    This reminds me of the Oakland hills fire back in 1991. My friend lived close by so I gave him call and he was worried. Got there with a chain saw and gas 30 minutes later. The wind was not blowing directly towards his house. We watched it for awhile then my friend said he had an older woman he wanted to check on close to the fire. We arrived and the woman wasn’t leaving so we watched the fire across the canyon beyond highway 13. I’m still stunned today. I watched the fire move into a 45mph wind and take out 3 blocks of houses. There were tree lined streets leading up hill of Canary Island pine trees. The fire would jump into the trees and then the trees would blaze up and then swoop down to the ground and then ignite a house. Some of the houses would explode, you would see the house just blow apart then immediately hear a wump sound in the earth followed by a boom echoing through the canyon.

    Incredible drop in the humidity here this morning. Was 66% humidity at 6:30 now 22% still dropping.

    I said earlier that fall might have something extreme for California but didn’t think it was fire.

    • PRCountyNative

      Oakland hills fire changed the way I think about fires, forever. I now see landscaping as potential torches, roads as death traps, highways as speed bumps.

      I saw juniper bushes shooting flame. When the humidity is low and the wind is blowing and fire gets into neighborhoods…

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

    Hope everyone stays safe with the fires up north. Back here in the OC hills, the SA winds have really started to show up. Gusts currently up to 28 mph.

    • Alice Paul (LA)

      Jumping on to say the same. My thoughts are with you all affected by the fires. Please–safety first.

    • Keiko the Sleddog (Mammoth)

      Do we know what the winds will be doing today? I just left a wedding in Jenner, CA on the coast outside of Guerneville yesterday afternoon…have lots of family in Windsor and Santa Rosa, Rhonert Park and Petaluma, they are all headed to the rest of the family’s houses in the SF Bay, but Hwy 1 is becoming a parking lot from what I understand.

  • Mike (Mill Valley)

    Really bad smoke all night in Mill Valley, we are not even close to the fires.
    Couldn’t even see then sun this morning during my commute until I reach the Richmond bridge.

  • jstrahl

    Really bad smoke smell in Berkeley, sky looks horrendous, but at least he winds have died down, for now, were wailing all night. I’ve got lots of friends in harm’s way, Sonoma County (inc. Santa Rosa), Napa, Lake, Mendocino, fire problems also in Nevada and Yuba Counties.

  • Mike (Mill Valley)

    Really bad smoke all night in Mill Valley, we are not even close to the fires.
    Couldn’t even see then sun this morning during my commute until I reach the Richmond bridge.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1f9163731ec8b3dd360808d8f8bbec7f1109c44bbc62eab052c44b2bfded2ead.jpg

  • thebigweasel

    Winds in area of Tubbs fire have let up a bit, but are constantly shifting. Temps remain high, humidity is very low. No reports of casualties, but property damage is already immense.

  • AlTahoe

    Buddy of mine sent me this picture from his work right before they evacuated. He works at the Sonoma county sheriffs office. He said there is fire everywhere and his house is also being evacuated over the hill in Sonoma. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2391891798d310042966d8ecd1e69c9bbb3e41afeae2964b14440700fdf75f1f.jpg

  • thebigweasel

    There is live coverage and updates on evacuations and other necessary information at KPIX 5, available at this link:
    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/watch-live-wind-whipped-wildfires-turn-northern-california-into-a-scene-of-armageddon/

  • jstrahl
    • Bombillo1

      Sorry to use this blog in this way but I do not know anyone else in Berkeley. Can you find someone (perhaps you) there who might enjoy 2 free seats to the Allison Krauss concert at the Greek Theater on October 19th ? My wife is very ill and we can’t make it. Thanks.

      • jstrahl

        I will ask around. Thanks!!

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Looks like confirmed reports of the fire burning structures in Silverado CC. No confirmation as to what structures and their relation to the facility. Also conflicting reports of Cardinal Newman HS being burned.

    • PRCountyNative

      Looked at a map, there’s a street named “Burning Tree Court”, might have had a hint. Prescient.

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Sonoma County Hitlon looks to have sustained major damage. I am not sure if the picture is the Hilton though, looks to be a large residence at a winery.
    https://twitter.com/abc7newsbayarea/status/917432398429614080

  • Thor

    So sorry to see CA burning…really sucks.

    We are passed that here now in MT with fresh snow on the MTS and cool sunshine but my In-Laws are visiting from the Grass Valley area and quite nervous about the fire near Rough and Ready. (There are 2 fires in the GV area- one near the fairgrounds – supposedly went from 200 to 20,000 acres overnight?!)

    They live in Lake Wildwood which is supposedly evacuating. If anybody has any intel or proximity would love to pass it on.

    Feels weird liking posts of destruction but appreciate the all the information.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      Sounds like Lake Wildwood they can see the fire approaching and working to get air resources into the area. Rough and Ready has been mentioned but I haven’t seen much info about it.

      • Thanks for timely updating us here today. Hard to upvote, yet much appreciated

        • Cap’n

          I second that. I’ve been refreshing this page often, really appreciate so much up to the minute information.

    • Chowpow

      Looks like evac lifted on mccourtney fire. Wildwood is established in the Deer Creek drainage and is putting up a fight.

      https://www.mynevadacounty.com/AlertCenter.aspx?AID=Local-Fires-Alert-McCourtney-Rd-Fire-Lon-4

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Fires now going for almost 12 hours and still local crews being sent Code 3 to the fires……they’re being sent direct to the fire lines. Contra Costa County sent a strike team of engines just after midnight to Napa as well as CoCo Sheriff deputies to assist with evacuations.

    Alameda County Fire just posted this video of their crews leaving Code 3 to the Tubbs fire in Sonoma.

    https://twitter.com/AlamedaCoFire/status/917438758261104640

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

    Hate to add to the fire issue but we have another one here in Anaheim Hills. Looks like right off 241 and 91 again?

    • SouthOCrez

      I’m in Orange and the sky just turned brown here. Looks more like a dust storm from Corona, but you’re saying fire?

      • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

        Unfortunately, yes

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      Welp…

  • honzik

    SCMtns update: Woke up early to the smell of smoke from the Napa/Sonoma fires. Thought they were a lot closer based on the amount of smoke. I hope everyone out there is safe and sound.

    Also, looking out the window, I noticed bright clouds which is probably the contrail of the SpaceX launch this morning: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/76e17ec987e71a293873904d9355cf18bb6025266305734f68193a95e7be2121.jpg

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)
  • Nathan

    Almost wondering if there needs to be some type of change in mindset WRT to these events; maybe simply declaring a “red flag warning” is not enough. Some of the most memorably destructive fires have come during predictably very dangerous conditions in a fairly small geographic area. We knew that there’s a ton of dry brush this year in NorCal because of the heavy rains, we knew there would be an extreme wind event specifically in the north bay, and we knew when it would happen with a stdev of a matter of hours. In the future, should we “preorder” fire trucks to high-risk areas? Would it not have helped to have additional fire resources at the ready within striking distance of Napa from a ~100mi radius? Since it’s for such a short duration, seems like the costs over time would be less than the catastrophic damage and crisis management of fire resources we have now.

    • gray whale

      ABSOLUTELY. At least wrt to the communication aspect.

      “Red Flag Warning” is so meaningless it makes me want to bang my head against the wall. All of us weather-obsessed have known for about a week now that this weekend would be a critical time. But the average citizen had no idea.

      I saw some NWS-produced content on twitter announcing the red flag warning that said “be careful with fire” for this weekend. Be careful?! How about no f*kn fires?

      • justsomeguy

        Tell that to the wind that blows power lines down.

        • gray whale

          my point is, for starters, why not change “red flag warning” to “extreme fire danger warning”? and take it from there.

          i also think there’s a gap in responsibility between the NWS, who reports and interprets the weather, and whichever agency is responsible for properly disseminating it. But the NWS could do a better job at the outset.

          • justsomeguy

            Good to see you support more funding for the NWS. However, semantics will not stop wind caused and driven fires. Fire agencies work extremely closely with NWS forecasters all the time. Are you talking about civilians not knowing of exteme fire danger?

          • Who do you think you are? You’re just some guy.
            Who knows what he’s talking about 🙂
            I personally think we need a high tech approach to this with night time firefighting STOL/VTOL aircraft – give the pilots VR headsets with NV+IR sensor fused AR cockpits allowing 360 degree F-35 style ultimate situational awareness machine that can slow fly into the drop zone at 100kts on terminal approach, giving the pilots a margin for error – flying slow works for CAS why not retardant?
            Money for said toy can come from the best kind of bake sale: sell them to other nations, they will need them what with our causing global warming.

          • Dan the Weatherman

            NWS could at least mention these warnings on NOAA WeatherRadio. Their AFDs mention these types of warnings, but they are not included at all in the Zone Forecasts at least in Socal.

      • Nathan

        People were saying earlier that the main cause of these fires was powerline downage. Which also seems to me to be somewhat predictable, or at least, “high-risk” lines should be identified and buried.

    • justsomeguy

      What you describe is SOP for emergency fire managers. This event actually is taking place over a very wide area. I can assure you that leaves were cancelled, additional engines and crews were on hand, all ready to respond immediately. There are not not enough taxpayers in the world to put an engine on every corner or staff hundred of Air Tankers.

      • Nathan

        I see, thanks.

      • Shecky

        Yep, 36 extended family members and friends that were called back in starting back last week. Line crews were already in trucks Sunday, eastern Sierra crew that a friend of ours was doing fire watch above Crowley. Nobody was taking this weeks events lightly like you said.

  • thebigweasel

    LA Times is reporting that the Tubbs fire alone has destroyed over 1,500 structures, including shopping centres, major hotels, and is actively threatening two major hospitals, which have been evacuated. Weather conditions remain extreme, low humity, fitful, gusty winds, minute-to-minute shifts

  • happ [Los Angeles]
  • Thirstier Nick (Santa Maria)

    Prayers for rain go to NorCal. Geez, too many fires in this part of this state. Wondering if the Governor is issuing a state of emergency yet.

    Other places, lots of wind as forecasted in Ventura and LA counties. Nothing much to talk about here. I hope the Great Pumpkin can bring us rain in California ASAP.

  • thebigweasel

    Fingers crossed, everyone. A large portion of the state’s fire-fighting resourses are pouring into the North Bay, leaving LA/Ventura resources strained as a major Santa Ana condition gears up there.

  • justsomeguy
  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

    If things continue to light up down here in SoCal, it’s going to be nerve-wracking dealing with resources…

    • SlashTurn (Santa Barbara)

      Some sort of civilian “lookout” network implemented by the county would be nice during these low RH Santa Ana events. Especially in the heavy chaparral neighborhood interface…the way instant communication through technology and drones, seems logical and low cost.

      Wishful thinking.

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        Good idea right there.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        That would be a good idea, and it would seem possible to knock out a fire before it gets completely out of control.

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

    Hoping this doesn’t jump west of the 241. This is a little too close for comfort here. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a37595073e92734c6dfc4382fbf768a5740c60198563187f5685d56ea12a8000.jpg

    • Cap’n

      Wow did you take that? Looks close.

      • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

        Yes. Looks like it jumped the 241 and up near some homes. I am about two to three miles west but downwind. Super scary as they are evacuating the local elementary schools.

    • Thirstier Nick (Santa Maria)

      Yikes. That looks bad.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      This is a little too close for comfort for me, too, especially as long as the winds continue to blow. I would feel a lot better if the winds die down this afternoon, as a Santa Ana typically does at that time of day.

  • matt

    Looks like the santa ana winds are really taking thier toll on the state of California. Fast moving brush fires. High winds. My prayers go out to everyone effect by these fires

  • happ [Los Angeles]
  • Thunderstorm

    Just heard that burn victims are being helicoptered out to burn centers.

    Humidity here SF bay area Fremont area is at a all time low where I live 12% and still headed down. No wind yesterday but now gusty from the NE up to 18mph.

    Looking at video of the fires, winds seem to be less and pyrocumulus starting to develop. Over 1,500 structures destroyed. Huge plume up by Wllitis visible on visible satellite.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

    Unfortunately homes are now catching on fire on Cedar Point Dr. in the Anaheim Hills adjacent to the 241… Tune into live media coverage, because several neighborhood are beginning to ignite.

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      Houses next door are catching flames now. https://twitter.com/KTLA/status/917466847959695360

    • happ [Los Angeles]

      Somewhat depending on the location of the high it is almost a given that the San Gabriel valley escapes santa ana winds compared to the San Fernando valley/ Orange county. It is calm here.
      Good luck to all in Anaheim Hills.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        The winds were blowing quite a bit here at my house earlier this morning, but fortunately the winds have been decreasing over the last hour or so, but I am still seeing some stronger gusts at times. It has been very smoky here as well, and the smoke has gotten into my house around the front door.

  • jstrahl

    Winds have started gusting again in Berkeley, quite hard.

    • Thunderstorm

      Stay alert! Humidity here incredibly is still dropping now 10%.

  • shampeon

    Looks like my friend’s parent’s place near Silverado Resort outside of Napa is gone. They and their dog’s got out, but they may have lost everything.

    • jstrahl

      Damn, Sorry to hear. Several friends of mine are yet to be heard from.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
  • Dan the Weatherman

    It has been very smoky here in Orange for the last couple of hours being downwind of the fire due to the Anaheim Hills fire, which has been named Canyon Fire 2. This fire is remarkably close to where the Canyon Fire started a couple of weeks ago. The major difference this time is that the Santa Ana winds have spread the fire into the eastern portion of Anaheim Hills to the SW of the 91 and 241 interchange. Unfortunately some homes are now being burned in this fire.

    • Thunderstorm

      Can just now see a smoke plume headed out over the ocean on the satellite visible.

  • Dan the Weatherman

    4 homes have been involved so far in Anaheim Hills, according to local news.

  • AntiochWx

    Sad situation across the state today, feel very concerned for all those affected. Dry and rain is still a ways away.

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

    Expanding evacuations here. Serrrano is closed before Nohl Ranch road. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3c8a4576ba67d3095bb97cc71dbe3d1cacbe559590eb9b2acd9342818182306e.jpg

  • Nathan

    looks like those rain chances are really evaporating on the 14th and 20th weekends, as well. Bummer.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

    Winds have really geared up across SoCal throughout the early afternoon. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/34f501b03c3425fe16b41f7c6ddcf385d657d5e9a0aac35604b3c0da9dc51ab8.png

    • Yet still as can be in LA

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        Not necessarily, I had the minimum gust up to 29mph on the layers of the website.

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)
    • Nathan

      stay safe!

      • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

        Thanks

        • Dan the Weatherman

          Hopefully they can get the upper hand on that portion of the fire and that no homes burn in your area! I am watching this fire very closely, and am very nervous regarding the ongoing situation.

  • Wildcat Canyon fire caused by downed powerline according to the EMS grapevine, since I heard other fires were being caused by that and the roads and walkways were strewn with substantial debris – tons of leaves needles branches and riffraff all over everything this morning – I don’t think arson is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the fires happening today.

    • MetaGhost (Berkeley)

      whaaaa?

      • High winds + low humidity + long period of quiet WX = branches busting up everywhere
        I figured when they were talking about the fresh spot fires early this AM behind the hospital that this was the work of arson, and then another comment below was positing such a thing, I then spoke with someone in contact with PG&E crews working in Wildcat – they assessed the small fire that started there was from downed lines, and other reports have come in that North Bay fires were also from downed lines.

        • MetaGhost (Berkeley)

          Are you referring to the fire from early morning or another one?

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      Left the Bay to head towards the Sierra for work…can confirm massive amounts of tree limbs, palm fronds etc down all over from sidewalks to roadways all along. Easy to see how with those winds something could be blown into a line and quickly spread.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    Lucky to be between both smoke plumes, the smell of smoke has disappeared for a long time, but the smoke is so bad in the East Bay I can barely see it. Northern San Mateo County and the Northern Santa Cruz mountains really are the only place in a California safe from wildfires https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f1f3819ae641ad13a5d3c2bfbaa73235bc8572c57ff2e9d0f975e176c70d3e84.jpg

    • For now

      • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

        NWS Reno just posted to expect smoke to start drifting East; so as you said “For now” many of the places in the clear right now could be covered in smoke starting tomorrow.

  • V-Ville

    I can see the Nut Tree airport from my house and for the first time I’ve seen the large CALFIRE helicopter(s) land/takeoff several times. Guessing they are refueling. Fast, direct route back to the hills.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Massive amount of smoke throughout the Sacramento Valley, smoke plumes could clearly be seen in the Napa area form 680/80. KTVU showing the newest VLAT the 747 (tanker 944) over the North Bay area. Thought I’d see planes taking off and landing at Mather (main refuel base for LAT/VLATs) but didn’t see them. Assuming they were all out. With the current #s of over 1500 homes and business destroyed as of 10am can only imagine what those #s will be.

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Pictures from a popular pet cemetery in Napa-I haven’t personally been there but my last dog’s ashes were sent here and it was described as very peaceful location in the Napa Valley.

    https://twitter.com/EvanSernoffsky/status/917496230057361408

  • Telegraph Hill

    Went to bed wondering who was burning wood in the middle of the night. Woke up to disaster. I was scheduled to moderate a panel at Sonoma State University tomorrow – now cancelled because the University has been shut due to the fires. More than one friend of mine has been evacuated; one has even lost her home in the Potter fire. Sad times.

    Press Democrat has a Youtube playlist of the fires impacting the Santa Rosa area. http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7506978-181/fires-burn-across-sonoma-and?artslide=0&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral

  • Aaron W. (Paramount)

    weird how the smoke changes the sunlight almost looks like orange paint https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4620fa89d5386ee62cf41c8cf7f93e54f55e743fec23013efaec00715b7cd75f.jpg

  • DelMarSD

    Greetings from Virginia. These fires have now become national news. What a terrible situation; the sheer size of these fires is astounding. Praying the situation doesn’t get much worse. It is that time of year. I hope everyone stays safe.

  • Tuolumne

    Nothing posted by Alanstorm in the last 9 hours. He had gone back to evacuate more vehicles from his property . I hope he’s OK.

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      He had mentioned a lack of power and cell coverage and reporters have mentioned throughout the day it has gotten worse for cell coverage.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    Well looks like I’m gonna see these wildfires in the North Bay on 101 tmrw, does anyone know which way the Santa Rosa Fire is burning?

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    Very telling photo, unlike many fires we see that burn in more rural areas the fire in Santa Rosa is in a suburban area. Truly shows the urban wildland interface.
    https://twitter.com/DarwinBondGraha/status/917513822763548672

    • Thirstier Nick (Santa Maria)

      This is very sad. Wonder who started this fire.

      • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

        I think it’s Mother Nature and our need for power-winds don’t mix well with power lines. Winds pushed it from Calistoga to Santa Rosa in a matter of hours…probably 10 miles or so in less than 8 hours.

        • Alison

          That’s my thinking as well. Looking at the time and map of when and where these fires started, it seems a bit improbable that 5+ arsonists were working in a coordinated fashion in the early hours of the morning across a somewhat disperse geography. (It could happen, I guess, it just doesn’t seem like the most likely explanation). There was a fire behind my house this summer when the wind knocked a tree into a power line.

        • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

          I won’t be going up there tmrw if it continues to spread like that

      • Jim (Watsonville)

        Lot of them were started by power lines down

    • Tuolumne

      I wouldn’t call that the interface – that’s pure urban. This is flat land that almost certainly was agricultural before being developed, and the natural vegetation is long gone from the area in the photo. Granted, Google Earth shows a few isolated parcels of grass (one with oaks) along the edges, but everything else beyond the neighborhood is ag or urban for some distance. This is not an area of severe fuel buildup in natural vegetation, unlike so many of our wildland areas.

      This situation reminds me of the Valley Fire in Lake County, where a urban-wildland interface fire eventually worked its way down into an agricultural valley. Once there, the fire spread from building to building via flying embers, without having to burn up the intervening vegetation which was pretty minimal in many areas.

      • justsomeguy

        We used to refer to closely built houses as Fuel Model 14, when there were only 13 recognized wildland fuel models. Not exactly 100′ clearance.

        • Tuolumne

          It can be very flammable, and now and then can even burn in preference to natural vegetation.

  • Huff (Anaheim Hills)
    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      They truly do an amazing job, how they work with the air attack and tankers is quite something amazing to see. When you add in last night they used helicopters to evacuate people from their homes at the Atlas fire those pilots are amazing.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Several helicopters have been flying over my house here in Orange for the last hour or two, as they are getting water out of the nearby reservoir to fight the fire in Serrano Heights / Anaheim Hills area. It’s been like a war zone here!

  • John Borstelmann

    Daniel, can you explain the NE winds for us laymen? It looks like the Santa Ana winds in SoCal, but I don’t see what would be causing them on weather radar. Are they related to jet stream disruption of climate change and Arctic melting/amplification, the Jennifer Francis theory?

    • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

      I can’t explain them as Daniel can but in Nor Cal you may hear them called Diablo Winds, they blow out of the North East and dry everything out in their path. These were the same winds that moved the devastating Oakland Hills fire. Often called Diablo Winds because they seem to originate over the Diablo Range and……….well Diablo means Devil and the winds also mean problems for residents.

    • Land-to-sea flow (aka Santa Ana, Diablo, or just “offshore” winds) is not uncommon this time of year in the coastal hills of California, and is caused when high surface pressure over the interior West (Great Basin) causes winds from the east over the state. These easterly winds warm, dry, and accelerate as they move from the elevated inland plateau to the lower elevation coastal regions. Such winds/low humidities have been responsible for most of California’s most devastating fires over the years, and those fires have mostly occurred in Sept/Oct.

      Last night’s conditions were particularly extreme across portions of the North Bay in particular, which is where most of these fires have broken out. Record warmth late this summer probably exacerbated fire spread, as well, since regional vegetation was exceptionally dry despite lots of growth from a very wet winter.

      • Nathan

        Can you please explain what causes a “surface” high vs. elevated high pressure? It seems like surface highs occur in tandem with upper-level lows. Why is that? Or are the two actually not related…?

        • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

          Typically they can occur from low-level pressure gradients moving across the surface especially in an adiabatic manner from these upper-level lows on downsloping mountain ranges & hills.

      • John Borstelmann

        Thank you. It is so heartwrenching to witness…

    • The news out of Sonoma County is not positive. It sounds like some folks were not able to get out safely last night due to the extreme rate of spread; there seem to be an unusually high number of casualties for a California wildfire.

      • RandomTreeInSB

        I heard there’s 10 deaths now 🙁

      • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

        Do you think 10 is a low estimate of the casualties?

        • Jim (Watsonville)

          Unfortunately I think there will be more…Calfire in their press conference suggested there would likely be more.

        • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

          I believe there were 22 for the Oakland Hills Fire and that fire exploded during the day this exploded after midnight when most people are asleep.

  • Taz & Storm Master

    When could we see are 1st rain

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I hope we get some rain really soon. Rain often follows a significant Santa Ana event like this within a week or two, but we will have to wait and see if that occurs this time around.

    • PRCountyNative

      end of the month

    • matthew

      December 12th.

    • Thirstier Nick (Santa Maria)

      Halloween…the Great Pumpkin says so.

  • SoCalWXwatcher
    • Nate

      That’s horrific. There’s nothing left.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    https://twitter.com/kqed/status/917503404796207105
    The Santa Rosa Hilton is no more

  • Nate

    Just had an earthquake in San Jose–4.1 in Alum Rock. Didn’t feel anything on the west side of the valley.
    https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/nc72906781#shakemap

    • Rumble in Morgan Hill.

    • 82/83 El Nino baby (San Jose)

      I’m just a few miles from the epicenter and did not feel it. Yet I felt the smaller earthquakes that were part of a cluster last month. Weird.

      • Nate

        Yeah, it’s weird. This quake was deeper, so that probably had something to do with it.

  • matthew

    Some pics from the top of Mt Rose…I have been hiking that peak for about 15 years and this was the best visibility that I have ever seen. Pretty sure that I could see Lassen – over 100 miles out. The sideways pic is of Galena Creek freezing as it comes over the falls…

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef3e69dde54cd9078776e82c2cc52ccf42b6f4328a0f54ca343764fd9b4daa7a.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2891a0e22ecc5a8a932847664324ffbfa2907f9e0a7e2c2a66234980960a327f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/289314d156193ec365c600a1032f29eede8401a203af49e748da45f2c9c3e887.jpg

    • matthew

      Oh, and for a little adventure we had the story of momma bear, baby bear, and the two bad Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Everyone ended up safe, but it got a little crazy for a while.