Strikingly dry conditions persist; Thomas Fire now largest California wildfire

Filed in Uncategorized by on December 24, 2017 3,867 Comments

Bone dry in Southern California, and below average precip throughout CA

All of California is now experiencing well-below-average precipitation for the season to date. Southern California has seen almost no precipitation at all. (WRCC).

It has been an extraordinarily dry autumn and early winter across Southern California. Northern California had been faring better in the precipitation department so far this season, with near-average autumn rains in most areas. But in recent weeks, Southern California’s dryness has begun to expand northward along the Pacific Coast–now encompassing all of California, and even beginning to creep north of the state line into parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Why has California been so dry? (Regular blog visitors already know where I’m going with this.) Well, a remarkably persistent zone of atmospheric pressure has been present more often than not across the region for the past few months. Early in the season, this ridge was centered across Southern California and the interior Southwest–but recently, a broader “full-latitude” ridge feature has expanded to encompass much of the West Coast. This temporal evolution is the reason for the SoCal/NorCal precip split early in the season. A couple of months ago, Pacific storms had been redirected only slightly to the north of the SoCal metro areas due to subtropical ridging (into the Bay Area and points northward). More recently, the bigger & stronger West Coast ridge has pushed the Pacific storm track even further north. Remarkably, this powerful ridge has forced several very moist atmospheric river storms over the mid-Pacific to make a hard “left turn” over the open ocean–veering directly northward and bringing almost inconceivably heavy snowfall to the coastal mountains of southern Alaska.

 

Thomas Fire becomes largest wildfire in modern California history–in December

The Thomas Fire has become the largest wildfire in modern California history–in December. (Via NASA)

One conspicuous and locally devastating consequence of the delayed rainy 2017 rainy season in Southern California is the extension of wildfire season well into winter. While December wildfires are not unheard of in this part of the world, the extent and severity of the December 2017 fires in SoCal really is unprecedented in California history. The Thomas Fire–which has now burned nearly 275,000 acres and over a thousand structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties–yesterday became the single largest wildfire in modern California history. That this dubious milestone was reached in December, which is typically the midst of the California rainy season, is truly extraordinary. Indeed, recent months have brought not only near-record low precipitation, but also record-high temperatures across a wide swath of SoCal.

This long-term warmth and dryness set the stage for an unusually prolonged stretch of land-to-sea Santa Ana winds in recent days to push recent fires far further and faster than would usually be possible this time of year. An amazing indicator of how anomalous this winter airmass was: on several occasions over the past 2 weeks, relative humidities near the beaches of Southern California fell as low as 1%–with surface dewpoints at or below -20F in some nearby spots, and column water vapor under 0.1 inch. In other words: there was essentially no moisture at all in the airmass that has lingered over SoCal for many days. While long-term humidity records are hard to come by in most spots, all signs suggest that these were at or near record-low humidity values for many of these recording stations (and certainly for the time of year).

 

Is this (another) return of the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?

Persistent high pressure ridging over the American West has kept conditions unusually warm and dry so far this autumn and early winter, especially across Southern California and Arizona. (NOAA via ESRL).

This is a question that I’ve been hearing increasingly often in recent days. “The Triple R” certainly has anxiety-inducing connotations for many Californians who endured record-breaking drought just a few years ago. (This is something to which I can personally attest: I live in Los Angeles at the moment, and I personally haven’t witnessed any precipitation other than brief drizzle since late March). And its return would rightfully raise some eyebrows, given recent research suggesting that such pressure patterns have indeed been occurring more frequently in recent years.

My current answer: we’re not in Triple R territory quite yet, but we’re getting close. We have certainly witnessed the return of resilient ridging near California, but I don’t think we’ve yet reached the “ridiculous” level of multi-month persistence that occurred during the height of the recent California drought. Should present conditions persist through January, and if seasonal precipitation has not started to recover from its early deficit by that time, I may have to revise that answer.

Latest forecast: still little to no rain over the next 2+ weeks over most of California. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)

The good news: wet conditions last winter did help to top up reservoirs in the northern part of the state–meaning that the state’s overall water supply situation looks okay even if very dry conditions persist for the rest of winter. Last winter’s lowland flooding did help to modestly recharge shallow groundwater aquifers in the north, which has (temporarily) stemmed the long-term loss of capacity in these regions.

The not-so-good news: parts of Southern California that depend exclusively on local water supplies (such as much of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties) never really recovered from the last drought, and these regions remain quite susceptible to the impacts of drought re-intensification. And even further north, forested regions remain quite stressed as a result from the previous multi-year drought, and tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada remains far above historically observed levels.

 

Unfortunately, 2+ weeks of unusually dry conditions still probable

Persistent ridging is *still* in the forecast for the next 1-2+ weeks.

I wish I had better news regarding the forecast, but at there moment there’s still no real sign of rain returning to California in the coming days. Occasional light precipitation is possible across the north, but conditions will likely be nearly/totally dry across the southern half of the state for the foreseeable future. There has been–and remains–strong, multi-model agreement that West Coast ridging will persist for at least 1-2 more weeks. It has been remarkable to see day after day of numerical model forecasts depicting near-zero 16-day precipitation accumulations during what is normally the heart of the rainy season, and today’s runs (unfortunately) are no exception. The “Warm West/Cool East” pattern discussed in the previous post is still quite prominent over North America. The present West Coast dryness is largely consistent with seasonal model predictions for this winter, and those same models presently suggest that the present pattern is likely to persist for much of the California rainy season.

All of this is to say: it’s still too early to say whether we’re headed into a new drought, though there are some compelling signs that we may be (especially in Southern California). And even in a dry year, California can still experience big storms and very wet months. But at this point, it probably makes sense to start thinking about the possibility of yet another big swing in California–from drought, to flood, and then (perhaps) back again.

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  • Thunderstorm

    Helicopter rescues, yep. You just know its gona happen.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
  • JOHN CURTIS

    Casitas Springs should be on high alert!

    • Thunderstorm

      Do you live in Ojai?

      • JOHN CURTIS

        No. I’m on the east coast.

      • JOHN CURTIS

        Yes.

  • Los Padres NF/ Piñon Pines
    • Tuolumne

      How are you Abel to tell?

      • Los Padres NF/ Piñon Pines

        Haha. I was actually jumping from one dirt road to another up on the mountains, so I wasn’t Abel to be positive.

  • redlands

    Thinking Redlands, Ca – Southern Ca will only get 0.10 to 0.25 from this storm

  • weathergeek100

    No new post from Daniel eh?

    • Dan the Weatherman

      I am kind of surprised that he hasn’t updated as of yet, considering that the storm is expected to arrive on Monday afternoon. Maybe he has been busier lately and is still working on it and will post it tomorrow.

    • Taz & Storm Master

      he said it was comeing today

    • PRCountyNative

      Daniel said today, in the pm.

  • RandomTreeInSB

    Possibly due to recent models runs, Wunderground keeps raising the forecasted rainfall total for the next storm. From 1.58″ on Friday to 2.74″ on Saturday morning, now it has risen once again to 3.44″. A complete opposite trend in the forecast compared to the season so far and similar to 2016-17.

    • Tuolumne

      Excellent coinage – “storms”. I think we’re all sick of “storms”. We want the real thing!

  • 82/83 El Nino baby (San Jose)

    Look out shadowed folks, this one looks to be a winner for all.

    From NWS Bay Area discussion.

    “Because this storm will have ample moisture
    and strong dynamics, heavy rain rates are possible nearly anywhere, not only in the coastal mountain ranges where rainfall can often be much heavier due to orographic enhancement.”

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

        Nice CYA mention of the NAM’s wetter bias!
        Given that the offshore low hasn’t even closed off yet, it may be possible the NAM is underplaying the total precip. Not saying it will, but I can see a lot of wiggle room in any total precip forecast regardless of the source model used. Just my two-cents worth.

        • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

          Thanks & good points mentioned above, that is why I am making mention this may not pan out the way some believe it will.

      • SoCalWXwatcher

        Impressive totals! Thanks for posting, 805.

        00z/19:00 EST would actually be 4pm PST Tuesday, with precip expected to continue through Wednesday AM. Even if that chart exaggerates totals somewhat, those numbers are certainly possible by the time the storm moves out.

        • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

          Oh yes I didn’t roll back the fact that it is EST. Good catch & an important one about timing.

          • It’s not just the nam showing high numbers, I’ve seen 3+ inches show up in different models for a while now. Roided up.

          • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

            I agree, this just is the most standout to say the least.

    • RunningSprings6250

      Only in CA……

      • Pfirman

        For sure. It’s one thing when the fire is in the summer and the rain is in the winter, quite another when the events are mere weeks apart and the only positive is goodbye hotspots.

  • Jim (Watsonville)

    While we wait for our storm, Sydney Austrailia set a new record of 117°…a 79 year old record

    • Rusty Rails

      Yikes

    • Freddy66

      Coming to a neighborhood near you next summer

    • thebigweasel

      Sydney’s climate is very nearly identical to Santa Barbara’s. Six months out of phase of course. And like SB, when it gets hot, it gets very, very hot, and the fires are beyond belief.

    • Dan the Weatherman

      Sydney was mostly in the 80’s this month, except for a sudden spike to 110 yesterday, according to one station that I looked at on BoM. Must have been some type of offshore wind event that sent the temperatures spiking suddenly.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

    Getting into gear today. Excuse the mess of an illustration, but as you can see our ridge is dirtier than ever and slowly pinching off. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3955f2cbb93c59e34ea4ebc58a70e0f2d052d60a82869f1d0c581b6c23846723.jpg

    • Yolo Hoe

      Nice verbal-induced imagery to accompany the actual image!

  • CHeden

    Latest WV shows a weak circulation 250 miles WSW of San Francisco has started the process of closing off at the northern tip of an inverted SW-NE oriented trough. The stationary/Rex Block low at the southern base of the trough (the same one we’ve been watching since the last low ejected out of the same area earlier this week) is slowly weakening and will continue to do so as cold air gets shut off by the developing low to the north. However, juicy sub-tropical air continues to stream NE anti cyclonically around HP/ridging centered near southern Baja, which will serve as fuel for the developing low offshore Cent. Cal. As the day progresses, the low should intensify off the coast with a meandering offshore track over the next 24-36 hrs. before slowly sliding down the coast then drifting inland somewhere near SoCal Tuesday night (best guess.. but lot’s of uncertainty on precise details remains).
    As long as the low remains offshore, California will be on the warm, juicy side of the low (a pseudo AR) which is when the bulk of our precipitation will fall. With this setup, how long the low remains offshore, and exactly how close to the coastline the low tracks will be a key player in how much total precip falls through Monday night/Tuesday.
    Given that the low will have some colder upper air to work with, once the low’s axis shifts east, cold air will work in behind the front bringing SL’s down to ~ 4-5K’ (according to NWS) for those areas closest to the cold core of the low.
    ATTM, I see no reason to quibble with QPF forecasts other than there is still some possibility of either a feast or famine scenario to develop…especially if the offshore low fails to wrap up as expected, or it stays far enough offshore to keep the main moisture plume/dynamics mostly west of us.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/51dc04477a73d1d932e0599b5241516a79e597bb52c641fa51e2a81c63499907.jpg

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      Absolutely spot on about the feast or famine for totals. I believe it was last season we had one of two storms show this in perfect example as a cyclogenesis event took place, and dynamics hit the central & northern states, but kept SoCal in the eastern quadrant of the system’s main dynamics meaning only a baggy or as you called it above, “Pseudo AR.”

      • CHeden

        I think yer right.
        Seems to me we also saw this during the ’15-’16 SEN when lows would hang just far enough off the coast to give us bleh.

        • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

          This is what I fear, however this low wants to take a straight shot through the entire state. Looks promising, but we can’t leave out the fact that the bust potential for some may just vanish with this… California is a big state with the biggest population in the country… Of course someone will be disappointed.

  • Apollo

    An FYI, today @ 2:00 p.m. channel 7 “The Billabong Pipe Masters” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/04ea4a0cbcf61129c706c1e556a3cddbca0818f34c7f09e7b56452e597039bab.jpg airs on World of X Games.

  • CHeden

    NAM looks great for SoCal.
    Note though the absence of anything major up here in far NorCal. For the most part, we should be on the drier NNE flank of the low as it drifts down the coast except for a short 6-12 hr. period on Monday when the low’s core may make it just a skosh north of Cape Mendocino before reversing course and moving back down south… so as a result our rainfall here in Cottonwood should be mostly light/moderate stratiform in nature. NWS has us down for ~ 2″ total for much of the north Valley, which sounds about right, but I’m leary that we’ll get anything more than that.
    Best chance for something really interesting is with juicy SSE winds present, and colder air working in from the north, one of our classic Redding convergence lines developing is certainly possible. NWS makes no mention of this possibility (as yet), which they rarely do longer than 12-24 hrs in advance due to the high uncertainties associated with location and intensity these CL’s are so famous for.
    Regardless, this is something I’ll be paying close attention to once the low gets closer.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03b72a2d06a9d1afe1b0611b5dd2398f34add475d72fd7b58e845f979e304a7d.png

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      I missed this post, damn I hope that happens for you guys up there. Would be one big happy storm for this board.

  • Juggernaut

    and poof, the Fantasyland parade of cold storms is gone from the 12z GFS 🙁

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

    If you watch any of your local news networks in SoCal this morning forecasting this storm tomorrow… It’s really a big facepalm how they’re going about describing it. I dare you to tune in.

    • This thing hasn’t shown any sign of drying out, if I didn’t have any clients scheduled I’d head down there and film the fury. There’s going to be mayhem: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d37891c6ec719795c6edf6530cee8f8a8c23349d5553e6c671b85426d623e645.gif

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        I’m so glad I live right here for this storm. I’ll be very photogenic with it’s performance along with a lot of videos.

        • CHeden

          “I’ll be very photogenic”
          I assume you mean you’ll comb your dripping wet hair before taking the selfie?

          • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

            Maybe combing off some snowflakes of course as well ;). We’ll see where I end up.

      • Freddy66

        80s are back in the forecast for next weekend here in so cal so at least it dries out…before the pattern change mid month. That’s still on track right ? Didn’t want to look down the road at models yet

        • matthew

          Suggestion : Do not look at the GFS forecast past Wednesday. You do not want to ruin an otherwise good Sunday.

    • Freddy66

      Most of them don’t know what they’re talking about. It is really embarrassing. The exception being Dallas Raines on ABC here in LA

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        Only a few them are actually certified METs.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Dallas Raines is the only one local met that I watch. He has been around a long time and is very knowledgeable on the subject.

  • White Lightning

    Well the GFS isn’t showing the major large-scale pattern change anymore, which really sucks. These small/medium sized storms that slip by the ridge every two weeks aren’t going to cut it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c6922e3174ebee6307b07fd33def7e4db9097b611cb8bdf37f1116edb39574ce.png

    • Cap’n

      Dude, where’s my parade?

    • alanstorm

      Saw that. Last 2 runs look not good.
      Better be outliers

    • Kelley Rogers

      Nope, what a joke.. I had such high hopes

    • RandomTreeInSB

      A little disappointed but not surprised. It has done the same thing a few times this season already.
      Let’s enjoy/prepare for the upcoming storm first. All bets are off beyond that.

    • Shane Ritter

      I wouldn’t worry about the operational just yet, both Euro and GFs ensembles still show big toughing around the 15th, and that’s when the EPO goes + and PNA -. It’ll flucate between now and then, but I think it’ll be a wet period. Those storms are to far out to actually materialize.

      • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

        Agreed. Teleconnections actually seemed a little more lined up to make things happen after the 15th.

      • Freddy66

        Yeah…shouldn’t have looked at the 12z

      • Yolo Hoe

        Thank you Drought Lorde — your rehab has been a success

    • CHeden

      Most of the short range forecasts have precip with just this next system to exceed these 16 day totals….hence I’m a bit skeptical.

    • Bartshe

      Happens more often than not with long term, and odds already high for drier-than-normal winter.

      • Yes one month doesn’t make a season. It would be nice to have a couple weeks of unsettled weather a month through April. Odds aren’t stacked well. There’s honker on the 384 that looks cold and wet with a lot of mess in it. I’ll wake you up if it verifies though.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
    • RandomTreeInSB

      Oh wow…Thought this was from last February, then I looked at the date.

  • Aaron W. (Paramount)

    Will be pretty windy everywhere on Tuesday morning! Winter storms are usually my only hope of winds, since I’m always sheltered from the Santa Ana winds…

    https://weather.us/model-charts/euro/los-angeles/gusts-3h-mph/20180109-1500z.html

  • alanstorm

    Precip totals upped AGAIN.
    7″ for big Sur?
    6″ above Santa Barbara?

    Would be better if this came during a while week instead of 36 hrs since the possibility of @#%¥ ridging afterward is back
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7683201d97a6d4820524499e69bc2b4ee2815bb22d260d1b3d3a9acdf0df9b4d.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/406502f021af8d115723b50200c3daec12af01518c067061eba9887eadf09e7a.png

    • Taz & Storm Master

      well have too see if GFS can bring it back when we get closer too that time

      • It’s in range on a bunch of mesoscale models, focus on them.

    • celo

      The warm front rain is getting juicier and juicier. That can really add up on south facing slopes

  • Fairweathercactus

    I remember the 2001-2002 year. I was in 8th grade and I think that whole year we only had 2-3 rainy day schedules. One of them being in January and another being in March. Worst part about that was because of an epic food fight the 8th grade the school canceled all events for middle school graduation, no class trip to Knots Berry Farm, and no soda or luxury foods where sold the whole year.

    • matt

      2001-2002 was in high school. Nothing much. When our drought started. Here.

    • RandomTreeInSB

      Ah middle school… I remember that I hated it back then but now I miss those more innocent times.

      • Fairweathercactus

        I would say middle school was the most fun. Also in grade and middle school I ha an amazing view of the san gabriel mountains. High school sucked cause I had no view of anything besides anything right above me.

      • alanstorm

        Cutting class to use the library phone to call the DWR recorded daily river stages

    • Cap’n

      Rainy day schedule? Wow we really are a bunch of softies.

      • The term snowflake would apply but we are missing about 7000 feet 😉

  • Fairweathercactus

    One and done is back on the 12z.

    • Freddy66

      It was always one and done this week. Ensembles still showing change mid month.

    • Sublimesl

      Yup, back to ridge in west, trough in east…. It’s been trending that way for the past few runs. 🙁

      • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

        Take some time to read below

        • Yolo Hoe

          Yep — and let’s also remember last year how the GFS flip flopped with its operational runs after accurately latching onto the big signal early on.

    • Pfirman

      One and done beats none.

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
  • Dana Haveson

    Can you guys recommend a good source for keeping up on the weather/drought/storm concerns for SoCal, that’s in laymen’s terms? I come here periodically to read the comments and try to get some info on what’s really happening here, but so much of the lingo is over my head. I haven’t found a “forecast” site that seems accurate enough to be even relevant.

    • Atmospheric_River

      Basically, what’s happening is that there’s going to be a big storm on Monday and Tuesday. It will bring a lot of rainfall to the entire state, which is good, because SoCal has had a very dry fall and early winter thus far. But then there are multiple wildfires that have broken out previously. When a wildfire happens, it removes the vegetation that holds soil in place and makes the soil itself not able to absorb as much water. What this means is that mudslides are likely along the areas that have been burned, as very heavy rain is expected to fall there.

    • Picture a pile of sand. Now imagine a firehose blasting it. SoCal is SandCal.

    • Darin

      There is http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA and then it has an acoompanying http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DroughtSummary.aspx . *Precise* and *accurate* *forecasting* is the ultima Thule, will-o-wisp, the panacea. Daniel addresses broad strokes and meteorologists address more recent trends. If you want as-good-as-it-gets for the current day, you might try your local NWS , mine is http://www.weather.gov/sto/ (which of course is not SoCal, just an example).

    • Candleman (Santa Barbara)

      The experts on this blog are super friendly and helpful. I still know next to nothing, but when I want to learn I ask and they tend to give some pretty simple explanations.

      I don’t think you’re going to find a more insightful place for information regarding weather in SoCal.

    • Sfedblog

      It has its index finger on the Bay Area.

    • Huff (Anaheim Hills)

      I would suggest sticking with reading Daniel’s posts and the comment sections here. You will learn a lot. The NWS San Diego forecast discussion does a good job and can be a good learning tool.

    • palmsprings

      The NWS San Diego website has everything you need and, like Huff says below, the forecast discussion is always a good read. http://www.weather.gov/sgx/

  • Taz & Storm Master

    noted its a little on the breezey side today

    • Patrick from Stockton

      Been high fog over the valley today, keeping the temps down. At least it feels like January today. I wonder if this fog layer will lift? I can’t remember when we had the tule fog that just hangs over the valley for days. Been several years…

  • Arctic River

    Hi, all, it’s been a while. Anyway, here’s Mother Nature tapping on California to say “Hey, get ready for some serious action”

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/035b387c328ff5c666b9b9635cf26d4fa422e6b0de6288b1d6bff7c5109b9ad5.jpg

    • Yolo Hoe

      Right on!!

    • malnino

      If she stuck out her middle finger, it would go right up into SB/Ventura!!! Does she know something we don’t yet know?

  • Admode (Susanville)

    Did you guys break NOAA? I can’t get it to load on my computer. 🙂

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    Crazy storm ten days out on the Euro approaching California, significant surf, wind and low pressure along with rain

    • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

      That’s a classic GOA low being depicted. The pattern change around the 15th is beginning to work it’s way into the 10 day…

      • CHeden

        delicate sound of hammer on nail head.

        • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

          I almost posted a EC simulated satellite graphic, but I know how dangerous that can be too early on this blog.

      • Nate

        805, do you know when we last had a “classic” GOA low impact the whole state? I can’t think of any recent ones off the top of my head…

        • Tuolumne

          Those are *so* good when they happen. Cold rain even in San Diego.

        • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

          Sometime before 2014… Since then it’s been subtropical/tropical influence on the state for the majority of the seasons.

          • Nate

            I have no idea what the setup was, but January 2010 comes to mind for having the last truly violent storms for coastal locations in central/socal.

          • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

            February this year…hello?

          • Nate

            Despite having more available moisture, last February doesn’t even come close same level of dynamics/convective activity as January 2010, at least for coastal locations in the southern 2/3s of the state. Obviously the mountains are a different story. In January 2010, there were widespread severe thunderstorms, and high winds, with Huntington Beach (?) recording a 90+ mph gust.

          • 805 Weather (Camarillo)

            I have those all on video somewhere in low quality lol.

        • weathergeek100

          El Niño 2 years ago? Yes, a nearly record dry year for SoCal but the entire state got clobbered with two powerful GOA storms in January. December 2014 had a major storm wipe into the state (except that that split when it reached the Sierras) and was known as the ‘Bay Area superstorm’. December 2016? Solid cold front going straight down the coast. Ok ok, February of last year was mostly ARs and not your classic GOA but they still featured strong cold fronts, with squall lines and all slamming the entire coast. 2010-2011 had PLENTY of GOA storms all season long, not just the crazy AR of 2010. There were definitely a few classic GOA storms during the drought that briefly broke up the depressing 6 week dry spells like in February 2014.

    • Freddy66

      But…..but….

      • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

        But, what

        • Taz & Storm Master

          bet he was going too say the GFS

    • RunningSprings6250

      Gosh I miss a good ole fashioned strong storm – the kind where there’s a full day you could say “big storm is brewing!” even if you didn’t look at the models! LOL

      • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

        Storms recently have came and gone very quickly

      • Tuolumne

        Many hours of strong south winds and lowering clouds before the rain finally arrives. You just know you’re going to get clobbered.

        • RunningSprings6250

          You nailed it! ???

          • Tuolumne

            Thanks!

            I left something off. The rain doesn’t piddle or come and go. It starts as a steady, serious rain that just goes on all day or all night. The radar shows solid rain across the region with no gaps. None of these 15-minute downpours that drop a quarter inch then fade away.

            The pros have arrived and they’re going to show everyone how it’s done right. This storm is serious, it means business, and it delivers.

            Gutters are filled and overflow where drains are clogged, leaving intersections flooded. Pets and kids may get antsy over long confinement, but it’s worth it. I-80 is closed over the Sierra and big rigs run into problems on the bridges. Farmers’ fields are flooded, but they’re smiling thinking about the increased water content in the snowpack. Skiers who try for the mountains spend endless hours in traffic or find the road closed; most just stay home and get ready to head up the next weekend at any cost because the powder is going to be so good.

            Finally after many, many hours the rain breaks, revealing lush, green, waterlogged hills and valleys under the still-leaden skies. Late in the day the sun breaks through here and there, lighting up the emerald green, reflecting off a thousand ponds and puddles, illuminating a landscape of heartbreaking beauty, and promising a bluebird winter day tomorrow. This is a big part of the California I love…

          • Jason Jackson Willamette

            Such a poetic picture you delivered. The man who loves nature, is at peace with the world.

  • Taz & Storm Master

    it has gotten more more overcast since this Am

    • Scap

      Breeze is picking up a bit earlier too.

  • WXPhotographer

    Looking beyond this storm, do you guys think the ridge is going to build back in strong like GFS says?

    • RunningSprings6250

      I don’t care one bit what happens after the storm until after the storm – never fails on this blog, the world crumbles before a storm happens because the models don’t show another storm right on its heals.

      Come on let’s enjoy what’s coming before we cry about what hasn’t happened!

      Just saying….

      And Thank You, Carp…

      • Dan weather maniac (ORINDA)

        Amen to that!

      • Yep, I agree. I am excited just to get this first storm (it is our first real storm of the season).

        Of course, I want more to follow. Wait and see.

    • Atmospheric_River

      Most of the ensembles say that the ridge is only going to last for a week and then strong troughing will build over CA starting by around the 15th. Besides, it’s still around 10 days out, so I wouldn’t expect the GFS to be terribly accurate.

    • Bob G (Gustine)

      It is one operational run. These runs can flilp flop

    • Freddy66

      Daniel will likely have an opinion on this in his new update

      • alanstorm

        The part with “upcoming pattern change” is getting deleted

        • Freddy66

          Powerful storm to be replaced by massive ridge to last all winter.

          • alanstorm

            Have to admit, after all these years I STILL got suckered in.
            Please God, let it flip back to storm barrage.
            Amen

    • Tyler Price (Seaside)

      I predict it to be an outlier.. Yhe GFS has shown many stotms for many runs and has onky recently done a little flip flopping.. My GUT-FS tells me of many storms to come for the month of January.. It will be a very wet month.

    • I do. The difference is there is a more zonal flow to the northern hemisphere now. I’d rather have a progression of ridges and troughs than looking at a bunch of dirty ridges .

  • 805 Weather (Camarillo)
  • Sfedblog

    Last fall was one of the wettest on record. This fall was one of the driest. Are you picking up a pattern here?

    • Atmospheric_River

      The pattern I see is that CA weather is unpredictable.

      • Sfedblog

        Bingo!

    • Admode (Susanville)

      Yep. From one extreme to the next. The word “unprecedented” is getting old.

      • Dan the Weatherman

        Sometimes a weather pattern for a particular time period one season is the completely the opposite during the same time frame the next season. Last fall vs. this fall is an extreme example of this.

        • Admode (Susanville)

          For sure but after a record breaking dry spell to a potentially gnarly storm, it’s notable.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
    • Jim (Watsonville)

      Perhaps because of the uncertainty of where the low will end up ? I think CHeden discussed it this morning

    • SoCalWXwatcher

      NAM is initialized every 6 hours and HRRR is initialized every hour. Since many soundings are taken only once every 12 hours, I wonder what the HRRR is being fed every hour.

      Also, that HRRR chart is for 1km above ground reflectivity, and NAM depicts “near surface” reflectivity, I’m not certain how different those are, although drier air in the lower levels could certainly make a difference for the “near surface” depiction.

  • SoCalWXwatcher

    If everthing sticks to the script, we’ll get our first “This storm is a bust” calls tomorrow evening, followed by some heavy rain & localized street flooding in some areas on Tuesday. Hopefully no serious mud/debris flows in SBA/Ventura Counties, but it’s looking quite possible.

  • Fairweathercactus

    Let me say that the storm last February the one that was going to be epic storm at the end of the month came through with the wind but the rainfall totals was a lot less then projected. It turned out it was better for the coastal areas. I had felt that the winds brought a little bit of that subsidence to the area and leased rainfall totals.

    • SoCalWXwatcher

      It was a bust cause some places got less than 3”. I guess the criteria for “bust” is in the eye of the beholder.

    • SoCal Al (El Monte-SGV)

      I received 2.70″, if you’re talking about the 2/17/17 storm. Remember, early on we had a strong easterly wind component which cut-down the rain amounts in the early stages but the brunt of that system came later in the day.

      Don’t be sucha buzz kill……..

  • Dan weather maniac (ORINDA)

    It actually feels like winter today. Overcast all day / mid and hi level clouds, scattered low fog, everything is moist. Hills are green, ground wet.

    It’s a bit warmer that I think it should be but given the subtropical air mass down south sending air up here it seems about right.

    All day I’m prepping the yard to recieve the forecast 3-5 inches for the east bay hills. Cleaning gutters, and main “seasonal streams” and water catch basins I created in the yard. Planting shrubs also, all drought tolerant and all to help erosion control on the hillside beyond my yard.

    I’m really excited for the snow in the mountains and also finally so cal gets a good strong storm.

    Buckle up let’s see how it goes at this point. Nothing saying this will underperform at all as of now, a statewide soaker.

    • happ [Los Angeles]

      Cool bro
      Precisely what garden people are all participating in and looking forward to. Sandbags line the road in front of my house.

      • Dan weather maniac (ORINDA)

        Where in LA are you exactly? I know LA very well.

        • happ [Los Angeles]

          Mt Washington

          • Jason Jackson Willamette

            Are you up by the Self Realization Fellowship headquarters? Great view of LA downtown from there.

  • Taz & Storm Master

    one thing i noted is that its more overcast here then it is N of I 80 there more in a way of high thin clouds up that way

    • RunningSprings6250

      What does it mean?

      • Cap’n

        Oh my god oh my god oh my god

        • RunningSprings6250

          So I wanted to post a ‘meme’ the other day that would depict someone franticly ‘refreshing pages’ in front of the computer screen….so I plugged my search into google “furiously m………..” and….well, the images were not only extremely inappropriate but quite disturbing as well… ????

  • alanstorm

    Stark contrast of today’s Eel River stage vs one year ago today:
    20mi upstream barely at 1000cfs, last year was over 100,000cfs & hit 250,000cfs by the 11th!
    Bottom chart is at the mouth, shows it running “under gravel”, so low it only shows daily tidal influence.

    Last January, it reached 310,000cfs.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/338b1a4adf11cdda3ff7ac5674a89e4aa553c71202972944271bd2f878f52ee0.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6ef6da188b83e695f04d58037056362c0834ecfa3d21c9c2ab837f199aa38ef1.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a19335cb36cca07c526eb5f4f094ff87bb33ca5669bcb45dd7e9550d2a1d1360.png

  • Taz & Storm Master

    sac went with a Winter Weather Advisory so i gust the wait gos on for are 1st winter storm warning event

    i think that the Winter Weather Advisory may end up getting upgraded at some point but they are playing it safe for now and went with a Winter Weather Advisory

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
  • Cap’n

    More weakening, splitting, warming for the storm in my area, but it is very nice to see multiple bullseyes spread out across the state. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7b70d6ce63f8313f8dee9821eabfc7d079adee465db1e2f5ab0ce6d80f814bdc.png

    • Kelley Rogers

      It’s going south

    • Yeah but it roided up for the coast – that 7.5 was a 6.3 yesterday and the crazy mudslide maker on the SB coastal area and Running Springs are now showing the juice the NAM+GFS depicted.

  • Working on an update now. Expect it later this PM.

    • RunningSprings6250

      We heard that yesterday – I’ve lost faith ??

      • I’m pretty sure I said there would be an update on Sunday… 🙂

        • RunningSprings6250

          Either you’ve been studying too much or I’ve been drinking too much ???

          • David

            Probably both 🙂

          • PRCountyNative

            Quit interrupting him!

          • Admode (Susanville)

            It’s the latter:)

          • RunningSprings6250

            Doh! LOL

          • I think you’re studying your drinking too much.

        • inclinejj

          You said Sunday!

    • alanstorm

      Looking forward to your
      Liquid Rebuttal after such a tedious dry period

  • Fairweathercactus

    Time for Scam Town USA to get a victory.

  • rob b-Truckee/East Bay

    BA gave his update as we all wait (some patiencely) for Daniel’s. The key for those having ptsd from the latest GFS run.

    “So don’t fret over run to run of models over a week out.  It still looks like a good pattern is coming and possibly staying starting sometime the week of the 15th.  Once the storms get into the 7 day window later this week we can worry about specifics”

  • Apollo

    If this hasn’t been mention. The Preciptal Water amount looks like it has a lot in in there. The legend ends at the top of 2” and doesn’t start the 3” amount. Those light purple colors are what? 3”+ PW? Also it being funneled from the left and right from the sub tropics. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf67910f3ca0b2bc91f42b29c6c72f5216adc772afb57426191fae43580efbfd.jpg

  • PRCountyNative
  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    Swiss HD Southern California Swiss Super HD high resolution model has severe thunderstorms moving down the entire coast of SoCal.

  • Black Cat
  • RunningSprings6250
    • Sublimesl

      Because it probably is a dream.

      • RunningSprings6250

        Nope – forecast says 100% so I’m all in ?

  • JOHN CURTIS

    It’s crazy how everyone becomes so friendly here the day before the storm. All of our psychological well beings are weather driven.

    • Charlie B

      I love you man.

      • inclinejj

        I will never understand why you guys haven’t blocked him yet?

    • It’s all thanks to you!

    • Apollo

      You can maybe say the long awaited rain will be some good medicine

    • matthew

      I think I need a hug.

    • SoCalWXwatcher

      I love you guys.

    • Fairweathercactus

      I am far to prickly for a hug.

      • Tyler Price (Seaside)

        Sounds like you need to be watered 😉

    • Tyler Price (Seaside)

      Hahaha thats interestingly funny and probably has quite a bit of truth to it as well.. Seeing that i am in quite the cheerful mood all day today and have a very uplifted spirit knowing theres gonna be a grray storm tomorrow! Im back to checking the weather blog every 20 minutes and looking at thr mesoscale models too lol eagerly waiting for the next GFS operational run to come out every six hours.. Yup its definitely winter in CA.. My favorite time of year! Go away and stay away sun we want clouds snd rain!! Tis the season afterall you can come back in July ok? Thanks sun for the great understanding thank you kindly.. Super storm 2018 followed by January storm parade extravaganza 2018 starting in about Week commence!

  • AlTahoe

    Man two days ago we were looking at 24″ of snow above 8k which would have opened up pretty much everything at heavenly. Now we’re down to 6″ if we’re lucky as it is mostly going to miss the tahoe region. Hopefully the late January storm cycle happens or some resorts will probably start closing like in 2014-2015

    • matthew

      Hate to be the downer, but what used to be a storm on the 16th/17th is now the 18th/19th per the GFS. It wants to keep the fun just outside the 10 day window. I think that I have seen this movie before. Not believing it until it is within the 7 day window.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
  • Black Cat
  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

    18z GFS trended back towards cold and wet in the long range for those who only look at the operational models. There’s ensembles too btw

    • SoCalWXwatcher

      We prefer the ups and downs of the Op runs every 6 hours.

    • Taz & Storm Master

      yep i noted that we could all so be looking at vary low sow levels has well

    • Kelley Rogers

      I love getting happy and then sad, depending on the run. Note-during Summer this does not happen

    • WXPhotographer

      We must consult DroughtLorde 🙂

      • Taz & Storm Master

        whats not even go there

      • Tuolumne

        He skipped town so he won’t ‘drowne’.

    • jstrahl

      “Following the operational GFS, Ensembles now have the ridge stronger for later next week, with a stronger trough in the East Coast and delay any breakthrough of the Westerlies until well into fantasyland, after 10 days. This pattern has a tendency to reinforce itself and last longer than anyone anticipates.”
      So, this isn’t correct, right?

  • Jason Jackson Willamette

    Two air masses, one subtropical, the other descending from cold Gulf of Alaska waters, will (hopefully) join together and meet over California, and work out their differences as we cheer on the show.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef1dfbb0e6b2711a03f1d2595b23e4f1582826ecd7ef9bd1d69d3406be621361.jpg

  • Sublimesl

    Following the operational GFS, Ensembles now have the ridge stronger for later next week, with a stronger trough in the East Coast and delay any breakthrough of the Westerlies until well into fantasyland, after 10 days. This pattern has a tendency to reinforce itself and last longer than anyone anticipates.

    • happ [Los Angeles]

      default

      • Sublimesl

        I really think the absence of a strong jet to push these ridges away is related to the warmer arctic and less of a temperature gradient.

    • Dry Bones

      Bad but entirely within our expectations at this point. If this verifies, and I would give it 75% odds, we’ll have a one and done January—which probably means a one and done winter.

  • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)
    • RunningSprings6250

      I’m heading to REI to see if they’ll sponsor a live vlog from the summit!

      • Great Winter of 2017 (SMC)

        What elevation are you at?

        • RunningSprings6250

          6250’. 150’ below the highest house in RS, I tried! LOL!

  • Event is now under 3km NAM window. Model Shopping gif coming up next.
    https://imgur.com/sJE2Zay

  • Two mesoscale models stacked up against a global one. Bluelight special on the brand new HRRRX, which now comes with 200% more product and fights lice for 36 hours instead of the usual HRRR 18. Also comes with 7 feet of Rusteez-Sno, a cold wet liquid like substance that melts under sunlight. Keep it away from all metal-y bits. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2f443a50463e6f958d89af7e6c0a333813b124fd0245ff78abecef977725fabe.gif
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ba71a1ad6f416258065ad7ca6c0ced03fe3eac80437c26d8eadd2e6b6ecab4e0.gif

  • Dry Bones

    I saw no fewer than five motorcycles on the freeway in the very light rain on my commute to work this morning. I take this as a bad sign—I should have only seen the one hardcore guy who really believes in motorcycles as a form of transportation and rides in any weather. Anyway, kind of like seeing the ducks not migrating south or something. It’s a non scientific observable that points to forecast underperformance, to me.