We are Sensing Lake Effect Snow

by WeatherFlow Meteorologist Kerry Anderson

Buffalo radar 11.20.2014

We’ve all been watching for the last 72 hours as parts of Upstate New York are being buried under mounds of snow.  Nearly 36 inches have fallen in the past 72 hours.  While this has been an incredible storm, lake effect snow is part of everyday winter life for those who live in the lee of the Great Lakes and also the Great Salt Lake in Utah. I have personally shoveled more than my fair share of the snow that comes from these lakes, having lived and forecast in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and Salt Lake City. Meteorologists watch carefully anytime cold Arctic airmasses drop down across these lakes.  So what made this storm so heavy?  WindAlert sensors help to explain what happened this week.

The first ingredients needed for heavy Lake Effect snow are warm water and cold air.

I have heard media reports this week make a big deal about how unusual it is that this snow occurred so early in the season. Well actually heavy lake effect storms are more likely earlier in the season.  Why is this? The atmosphere becomes unstable when warm moist air lies below cold dry air. When this occurs the less dense warm air will rise into the cool air, condense,  then clouds and precipitation  form.  The greater the temperature difference the greater the instability and potential for heavy precipitation.  Since we are still early in the season the Great Lakes have not cooled down yet.  Here’s the latest surface temperatures for Lake Erie. Do you see the  pool of upper 50s at the eastern end of the lake.  Meanwhile the WindAlert sensor at Crystal Bay reported air temperatures in the 20s. (see graphic below)

Lake Erie Surface Temperature


In order for the snow to really get going and continue for an extended period of time the winds need to be aligned so that they run along the length of the lake.  The longer the fetch the more fuel for the convective cells.  With this storm not only did the winds blow out of the West-Southwest but they did so for for a long time, keeping the snow machine cranking over the same locations for up to 36 hours.  The graphs from the WeatherFlow sensor at Crystal Bay at the north end of Lake Erie and our new sensor at Irondequoit Bay clearly show the cold West-Southwesterly flow that brought all this snow.



Lake Effect with explanation


Posted in Weather Blog

Hurricane Diaries

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Baja can have hurricanes in the fall that can have a major impact on the road and the windsurfing & kiting beaches. The following reports will help you understand what hurricane years are like. The following reports are in reverse chronological order. They are mostly unedited as they came via e-mail.
The very atypical hurricane that hit San Carlos, Baja Norte is at the bottom of this page. Look for “San Carlos Hurricane Diary”
Here is a summary of the damage done by recent hurricanes:
Hurricane Jimena 9/3/2009
The damage reports are still coming in and the damage appears to be worse then previously reported.
In mid-Baja, Mex highway 1 has considerable damage and many bridges are destroyed. Transportation by land at this point is impossible. Critical supplies, at this point, must be brought in by air. There is great need for food, water, and clothing.
Matancitas (Lopez Mateos) Almost 90% of the structures are down or severely damaged. All water, power, telephone, etc. out
Ciudad Constitucion: Most roofs are gone; sever damage to 70% of the buildings. Power, water, telephones are out
Loreto: All power / telephone are down, lines are down, trees and buildings blocking the streets, airport is closed at this time.
Mulege: All power, telephone, water, etc. is out. The water crested three feet above the bridge. Water was two feet deep in the fire station which would mean that almost of the entire town was flooded. There has been reports of loss of life.
Punta Chivato: One person indicates that the wind was over 100 mph before the indicator broke. Damage to almost everything. We should hear about the condition of the strip sometime today
Santa Rosalia: Wall of water came down the canyon and through the town, washed cars, etc. into the ocean.
Earthquake and Hurricane Henriette reports Sept 4 2007
Sept. 9, 2007 report from Mary from La Ventana:
Sept. 9, 2007 report from Angie of Baja Joe’s:
Once again a hurricane has come to La Ventana. Yesterday, September 4 about 11am Henriette made land fall in San Jose Del Cabo as a category 1 hurricane, quickly crossed the land, and traveled north up the Sea of Cortez. The rain started here in La Ventana early that morning and the winds were gusty, but not that strong. We watched the projected path on the internet and prepared (again) the best we could. We thought there was a slim chance the storm would miss us, but that wasn’t the case. The wind started picking up around 9am, but the rain was still sporadic and mild. Our electricity went off before noon. By afternoon the wind and rain were really coming in, but the computer said there was more rain coming our way. We secured the house and watched the weather steadily get worse. We could see the arroyo rage on it’s way to the sea and the waves crashing into our front wall.
This morning it was apparent the storm was over, the eye passed close to here around 2am, the wind switched directions, and the rain lessened. The report from NOAA confirmed our guess as to the location of the storm.
We went out to assess damage after daylight, finding that most of the wind damage was to plants and trees and most of the water damage was to the roads. This storm wasn’t as bad as John last year, so the damage was much less. The trees showed signs of being wind whipped, and the road eroded in the places that were eroded before. The recent repairs held up fairly well. The bad area just north of the campground had only a little damage, and the big wash-out near the sub-delagado (police station) which has been repaired, held up well. Farther north, past El Sargento, where the road is dirt there are many ruts, but it is passable all the way to the big arroyo. We didn’t see any damage to houses or buildings, but there were a few store signs on the ground. We saw only one power pole damaged. The road to La Paz has several places that has washed away and many vados are filled with sand. The worst wash-out is just outside of La Paz where the new slab crossing the big arroyo eroded half the lane. It looks like the other half is undermined and not safe, the traffic is diverted to the hard packed sand just upstream of the old crossing. The road to Enseñada de los Suenos washed in places, but is also passable and those communities between seem to have done OK.
I hope this finds everyone safe and happy, I think there is no need to worry about your places here. There may be some water to deal with, but all roofs and windows seem intact. ~Angie
Friday Sept. 7, 2007 report via Mike & Bella:
Mike just received an e-mail from Christian. The earthquake was 6.3 but very little damage. Of course the locals aren’t use to this so they were paniced.
Most of the local damage from the hurricaine was near San Pedro. The newly widened highway took a big hit from flooding. Lencho’s sister had to swim to Lencho’s car from their house which was submerged. Very little damage near us besides some power poles.
Latest report from Brian:
I talked to Angie from Baja Joe’s and also to Lalo from La Ventana this morning.
The hurricane passed almost directly over La Ventana. It was a Category 1 hurricane.
It brought a downpour of rain, and the arroyos flowed heavily.
Per Lalo, there is mostly just a lot of trash and sand everywhere.
The damage to the roads is much less than the damage caused last year.
The property damage is pretty light as the winds were much lighter – only 75 mph at their peak.
There was also an EARTHQUAKE at 9:07pm with a magnitude of 5.0 located near Isla Cerralvo per the USGS


Lalo of Lalo’s Fishing Tours said that he and his wife felt the house shake abruptly and that he has small crack in his wall now.
The earthquake came as the Hurricane was in full swing… CRAZY !!!
Anyway, I hope to send out another update later in the day – perhaps with some photos take by Angie of Baja Joe’s.
Here is the latest report from Tom:
I talked to Guillermo across from the camp ground at 8:15pm PST tonight. He said the hurricane passed nearby offshore around 4 or 5 pm. It probably went right over Bahia de los Suenos south of La Ventana on its way across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland. Winds and rain were nowhere as forceful as last year’s. But there was a good downpour for about 5 hours. Electricity was knocked out but his telephone is still working. He has not been out but did not expect much damage.
Hurricane John: Sept. 11 2006:

Los Barriles and La Ventana to a direct hit from Hurricane John earlier this month, see below for reports. This link will take you to photos: Hurricane photos.Both towns are a mess but repair is going along very fast and and it looks like it be completed well before the windy season.
If you are driving this year be extra cautious. The southern half of Baja has had lots of rain especially from Hurricane John. So there is lush growth along the road and hungery cows will be grazing along the road ready to lurch out into traffic.
Due to the heavy rain Mexico’s health secretary is warning people of dengue fever this year. This disease spreads through mosquitoes that breed in standing water. Dengue fever can be deadly especially the second time you get it. The disease is spread by weak flying mosquito known as “aedes aegypti”. If there is any wind you are pretty safe. Generally this mosquito only bites from the knees down. Be sure to bring a strong repellent and use if liberally especially below your knees. Typically the mosquito is gone by the time the windy season is in gear. Be sure that you bring metal screening to put over the black water vent on the roof of you RV or the mosquito will keep breeding from that location.
Sept. 3, 2006
The big news is the very destructive Hurricane John. The eye with winds near 100 mph went within a few miles of La Ventana. Paste this link into your browser to see photos:


Below is a report by Angie of Baja Joe’s Then a follow up report by Brian.
John, Big BAD John
Once again a major hurricane has hit Baja, including our beloved village of El Sargento and La Ventana. The US news touched lightly on the probabilities of the storm and effects on those of us here. Because we live here and have been here for other storms, we took the attitude that it�s better to over prepare than not.
We put away as many things outside as we could think of, of course there�s always things you miss or don�t see, or think won�t be a problem. We put plywood on our windows and door, sandbagged the front door and got the towels ready.
John arrived early evening with the usual angry surf, showers and gusty winds. It seems that hurricanes always do the deed in the night, and John, true to a hurricane�s nature was most formidable Friday night. As darkness came, so did more rain and stronger winds. I gathered my 8 cats and Roja to be sure they would be safe. At this time we still had power, but the flashlights and candles were ready.
The power went out about 9, so the movie watching was over. By candlelight we talked and wondered about the noises we could hear outside. The wind was pretty strong by this time and of course the rain was finding it�s way into the house. For those of you that don�t know, my house is on the second storey, but when it rains, my windows and doors leak, and the floor is wet until it stops. Add to that the power of hurricane winds, the windows and (almost) the walls leak. We tried guessing what was going where whenever we heard a loud noise. We guessed wrong. The biggest noise we attributed to the weight bench falling over, but in the morning discovered the awning on the roof and behind the house, so that was it. The living room flooded, we walked around in about 3 inches of water. The plywood on the bedroom window blew off, but the glass held, so we only had water coming in there between the glass and frame. We went to bed and tried to sleep, but the noise and force of the storm wouldn�t let that happen.
Morning came and the storm had passed, but it was still quite gloomy and rainy. The wind had subsided and the damage was done. The storm didn�t track as predicted hitting Los Cabo, but turned right and hugged the coast of the Sea of Cortez. I don�t have reports from Cabo Pulmo, La Ribera, Ensenada de Los sue�os or places between. I have heard that Los Cabos and La Paz weren�t affected much. Here some arroyos washed and destroyed the road, including the one at Palapas Ventana and in El Sargento where the police station is. Many power poles, electrical lines and telephone lines are on the ground. The water pipe is broken in several places. The dish receiver on the Tel Mex tower was facing north, about a 180 from normal. All these repairs will take some time to get us back to normal.
I�m happy to say that everyone has survived, here and throughout El Sargento and La Ventana. There is a lot of damage, clean up will take awhile too, but the attitude here is: �This time we�ll make it even better�.
Baja Joe�s
Report by Brian and Angie Sept. 4 2006:
Angie and I took a long quad runner ride yesterday. We tried to check on as many homes as possible.
Unfortunately, between the impassable roads, and the locked gates, we couldn�t get to many.
The hurricane reached Category 4 winds of 115 knots at its peak, but had subsided to around a Category 3 of +/-100 knots by the time it landed here.
Supposedly, it tracked right between the island and here. (see more hurricane data at the bottom of the email)
The homes and property all seemed to hold up well. Most all structures appear intact
The properties on the east side of the highway took it the hardest.
The plants and trees on the beach side homes got decimated.
If your home is on the east side of the highway and lacks window protection, then there is a good chance that you have some broken windows.
Palapa roofs usually have a little damage, tile roofs as well. Tin roofs often failed.
Water and sand made it into almost every home. Sand got forced through the smallest cracks and around the window frames.
If you know someone who can air out your home, it would be a good thing.
Unfortunately, Angie and Joe are not available to assist with repairs, as they have extensive damage and cleanup to get their hotel back together.
The real problems are with the infrastructure.
All the restaurants seemed to have been hit really hard.
The roads have washed out along with tons of soil that they once sat on.
More power and phone lines are down than are up.
The water pipes are exposed, broken and completely washed away in sections.
Most of the road past El Sargento is passable only with a 4×4 as the arroyos washed through the road and left soft sand.
The Hot Springs road is completely gone. I could not even navigate it on the quad.
As we drove through the street on the quads Sunday, all the people were already busy with the cleanup.
People were helping each other, and most are smiling � even the ones with extensive damage.
The people of La Ventana and El Sargento are wonderful. The communities are supportive and resilient.
But you know that, that is why we all live here�
(September 21, 2001). In La Ventana the beach and campground suffered lots of cosmetic damage but will be OK by Dec. Los Barilles- suffered some significan flooding and North Beach area has some severe local damage. No report from Cabo Plumo and Pt. Chivato yet. Traffic on Hwy. 1 is now getting through but detours and rough conditions are common. The road should be in pretty good condition in a week or two.



Hurricane town & road damage reports, Produced by: Mike Godsey, iwindsurf.com



By Bobbie and Leon,

Lets start at the beginning. We left the Bay Area on Thursday and spent the night in a small town outside of Bakersfield. We then headed to San Diego. We crossed the Border on Sunday morning. No problems! They just waived us through. We drove 12 hours to Guerro Negro, The next day we drove to Loreto.

The section from Mulege to Loreto the roads were really bad. Lots of debris, rocks, dirt, detours. The roads got worse from Loreto to La Paz. From Ciudad Constitution to La Paz was the worse. The road was gone. The arroyos were full of water and had to use 4wd to get through them. The water was so deep in one area that it came into the trailer. That was pretty hairball; a semi got stuck right in front of us. They had to use a bulldozer to push him out. Leon just put it in 4wd and stood on the gas. We made it no problem. It was about 2 ft. feet deep. Then about 10 minutes later they had a detour that took us out into the desert for about 5 miles. This was not from the storm; they were building a new road. So instead of closing off half the road like we do in America, they just send you out into the desert. It was slow going, but we finally made it to La Paz. Just 28 more miles, Can we make it! Yes, the roads were okay, a few landslides and one-lane roads, but no water crossings. We made it to an RV Park in La Ventana. They had some damage, and the arroyo went through part of his property. Nothing that canxt be fixed.

We got to go windsurfing the first day, and caught fish the second day. We are now eating fish again and will continue to eat fish for the next 6 months. Good thing I bought a new cookbook. Leon already has an invite to go goat hunting with YoYo again, and we are going to a Fiesta on Saturday for their daughter Brenda who just turned 18 years old.The weather is very hot here, low 90 with 80% humidity. Water temperature is about 80 degrees. The shower is the only place to cool off. It has cold water. It is very refreshing. The hurricane left a mess on the beach. There was a lot of debris from the arroyos. It will be a month or so before it gets back to normal.There is no one down here. We are the only ones at YoYos so far. The campground down the road has about 10 people. We have seen one or two people pull in everyday.



By Lane,

Here is the latest report from Los Barriles. We just got this message from Don & Gayle, our next door neighbors. It is a journal of their trip down last week. Will provide more updates as they come.

We had a perilous trip down to our casa through some of the worst roads I have ever seen. We got to Gurrerro Negro for what was to be our overnight stay, we were met at the immigration check point by a group of officials that we showing us a printed message in English that said the lower part of Baja was completely cut off from the rest to the world. The roads were blocked between Mulige and Loreto in 5 places, no telephones, electricity or gas and water was in very short supply. This did not tell us how bad it really was; we were to find out first hand in three days. We spent three nights in Gurrerro and after finding out that the roads had washed out north of us, we were cut off from going back to the States. We left at 3 am and drove south, into the problems. We found several very large rivers running across the road, we saw trucks and cars abandoned in the water and still we locked up the 4-wheel drive and somehow got across them, one was actually over the headlights and came into the car through the door seals. Gayle and I were both at times sure we would become a river victims!



From Eric Skemp

The Road to Los Barriles through La Paz and then past the mountains of San Bartolo were really bad, the road had washed away in places leaving only just enough for us to keep the wheels at the very edge of at times a fall of several hundred feet, there were not really any other cars moving around, then we found some people that had somehow made it to La Paz for water and food and gas as the town has none, we followed them down a riverbed almost 5 miles to the beach north of town and then we forded the last river, the one behind our house, it was about 1/4 mile wide and there are cars sinking in the middle, houses have washed away along side it and are caved in.

We are home safe and have gotten the generator working after about 3 hours of mechanical work, living out of the car 12-volt ice chest, and running the generator to power the small freezer. Our phones came back on today, we hope to have electricity on in the next two weeks, the entire transmission lines came down, big Trucks cannot get down the roads even to do repair. We have heard that there are almost 500 semi trucks struck back at Loreto where we forded the large river, even after that it will take weeks to get the road back to at least one lane, the road to the airport gong south to Cabo is closed, some vehicles have made it through but even the 4 wheel drive cars need to be towed out by chains from the far bank. We know that they are helicoptering people in to do repair work on the phones we met one group in Guerrero, I think that is why we are back to having phone contact again. The beaches are so eroded that getting to a boat is almost impossible, and maneuvering an ATV on the sand; is quite a task, because there is no sand. Yes, this sounds dismal because you who know our town would be saddened by this.

Natives say this is worst than KIKO… so clean up will be long and arduous. Much of the town is still under water, and Tio Pablo’s had to close for 1 week to dig out the silt. We did survive with a roof intact, but much constant pounding of water made for lots on the floor, as Consuelo y Roberto and family bailed us out many times. They really worked hard for us, and without them we would have had a mess, that would have made even Gayle want to move back to the states!! Neighbors rescued our impassable street to the Casa by hauling in dirt to fill. As I type a road grader has made several passes. If neighbors had not done what they did we would not have made it up the road when we limped in at 7 P.M.Thursday. Today is Sat. and we are typing this and not sure whether it will go though on the Internet. Sorry this is such bad news, even people with homes here are not coming down, because no one will pick them up at the airport, and we have discouraged many from driving for at least another week. AND we should not have done what we did either, but rest assured NEVER again. Guess we better value life more. To our family, we are slowing getting back to normal … hard living out of ice chest (er no ice) but generator power and noise. Seems we are on the hunt for dead smelling things as well… just too much water and things dying, Yuck,,,

Photos of North Beach Arroyo by Eric Skemp:

By Mike and Terry

Hi everybody, we left los angeles on sat. The 6th and drove to punta chivato. The roads were fine with a few bumpy spots around catavina. We only stayed in chivato 2 nights because miggie got 50 bites on him. He went crazy, poor baby, i felt horrible seeing him in such pain. Anyway, we left at 6 am and drove to la ventana, getting in around 4. The drive was slow with wash outs starting below loreto. By now the roads should be ok as there were many men working to fix them with lots of equipment. La ventana was hit fairly hard but no where near as bad as los barrilles or cabo. Ventana had no lights or water for 9days. The campground was a mess but is now repaired. Dave and lana, everything looks fine no damage just a lot of died bugs inside. We checked andy’s lot no damage. Garvin and sara’s no damage except that the front or tongue of your trailer fell to the ground, it looks ok just needs to be picked up. John and rebecca you have some erosion problems however the wall is still in tact. We didn’t get to look at the wall from the front but will in the next few days and will let you know how it looks. Our house and land and john and susan’s are fine. The beaches sure have changed. The campground is all sand, the strip in front of john and rebecca’s down to garvin’s has a lot more sand. Our beach was all rocky with half the jetty gone. We had 4 guys here yesterday and it looks much better already. We need to start a beach fund! Umberto’s beach didn’t change a bit!!! If we didn’t mention your property that means that we haven’t had a change to look at it yet. We will try in the next few days to check things out further. Sorry for the mass mailing, more personal stuff later. Love and hugs to all and please send info on the war. We didn’t know about it until yesterday when in town we saw a blip on tv.
mike & terry




From Viki and Jeffrey

Hi everyone! We just hung up the phone after finally reaching La Paz. We spoke to Cristina (of Humberto y Cristina Osuna) at length about the damage sustained in El Sargento from Julieta. Here’s their up to the minute info: La Paz had no electricity for 4 days, and horrendous rain, but hardly any structural damage. Two people were killed, due to trying to cross the arroyo on the Los Planes (Yonke) road near the Coca Cola plant. To illustrate the severity of the deluge, one girl’s body was recovered in Fidepaz… OK, so Humberto was finally able to drive to El Sargento yesterday (Monday) and he reports that it’s a total mess, but that everybody’s palapas were still standing. Nobody was hurt, and they are still without power or water. Juan Ramon said they thought they’d have it back by Thursday. Baja Celular is not functioning because their tower blew down. Cristina said there is debris everywhere, that it looks “just like a hurricane hit the place.” Really ugly, and lot’s and lot’s of water.

As for the forwarded pictures we received from Joan and Greg, from someone in Todos Santos: Thankfully for El Sargento, Julieta did not hang overhead for the eight hours it did on the Pacific. Besides ripping up Todos Santos, it really hurt Conejo. Apparently the winds were not as severe on our side. (That Photoisland is a great website though, it scared the shit out of us!) Go to this address to see photos… http://www.photoisland.com/servlet/GuestLogin?USERNAME=bajabus Type in the name “hurricane” for the password, click again on hurricane at the left of the home page for pix. When you see a photo you would like to enlarge, click on it. This comes to all of us via Joan and Greg. So, it sounds like all our Mexican friends are OK, we still have some palm fronds left above our heads, and our landscaping efforts have been seriously thwarted. Now, if you tune into the weather channel, you’ll see a swirling mass they are already naming (did I hear Lorna?) heading towards Baja once again. And the Hurricane season doesn’t officially end until Halloween. Anyway, thanks again to Cristina and Humberto for their excellent reporting! Best to everybody from beautiful downtown San Miguel de Allende, Vicki and Jeffrey

Photo of La Ventana Campground:

From Angie at Baja Joes in LaVentana,

As many have seen or heard on the news, Baja was hit by hurricane Juliette, at one time a category 4 storm. It weakened as it travel north toward the peninsula and was predicted to skirt Cabo San Lucas. It didn’t. We in La Ventana, watched intently as reports were made. The wind and rain started in on Wednesday 9/26 with a gusty downpour early in the day. Clouds built, waves got bigger, but the wind was fairly mild all day. We closed windows and doors, moved rocks to better let the water get to the sea, and braced ourselves. Thursday dawned gray and quiet, no birds were out making their usual morning greetings to the day. The wind steadily increased and the drenching rains came more frequently throughout the day. Arroyos began running, but would stop when the rain would stop. That afternoon it began to really rain, the wind, although strong, wasn’t doing much more than swaying the trees and slanting the rain. At dusk, the wind became strong, really pushing the trees and lifting some palm fronds. The rain came in the front door, through the windows and it seemed to be coming through the walls. I had towels piled up in front of the door, but couldn’t ring them out fast enough to stop the water flowing under and into the house. We did the best we could to shore up for the night, but I woke once and walked around in an inch of water. The wind and rain were howling during the night, not many in La Ventana got much sleep that night.

Friday morning began with the same conditions, we looked out to see rain going horizontal and we couldn’t see 20 feet into it. Mid-morning the rain let up a bit and we donned raincoats to see how things were. Our arroyo/driveway had been a river during the night, and came very close to our north corner nearest the beach. The rushing water had undermined that corner so that it was hanging in mid air. We began collecting rocks and piling them there, then we attacked more where the water made its’ turn toward that corner and dug out the main route to the beach, so that it wouldn’t be likely to go close to the buildings again. We had lots of help, Cory and Tate were by early in the morning, later YoYo and Tany helped. We hung tarps over our east facing windows and the front door, and that slowed the flow into the house, but didn’t stop it completely, we still needed to ring the towels often. The wind and rain continued all day and into the night. Saturday morning was calm, occasional showers but much less wind. We went out to see again, and couldn’t get much further than the end of our driveway. It seemed that we were on an island. Water was flowing down the driveway and on the other side of our property. The sea was dark brown, the surf 10 feet or so, and the beach mostly gone. Because the rain had let up some, we were able to go to the village in the late morning. The sites were incredible.

We arrived at Pablo & Helie’s as they finished some shoring up of their property bordering the arroyo there. The water was coming toward Pablo’s house, store, restaurant, and all the trailers he has stored. This same arroyo drains into the campground near the pier, on a normal rainfall amount storm. That night, the water crossed the road, and joined with the arroyo on the north side of the campground and pushed out to sea. This north arroyo was flowing hard too, pushing it’s way to the sea along the road and eroding the edges. Where once a small lagoon would form in the trees on rainy days, is now a big arroyo, and new beach access. The water moved through every part of the campground, giving it a fresh washed look. Where the water came to the sea, there is a big mound of sand. I think this will be very nice for launching this winter. The pier succumbed to the pressure of the pounding waves and fell into to sea and was being torn apart. Our latest report put the storm center very near us, and this gave the quiet an eerie quality.

Here is the road to LaVentana. It is now open but in bad shape.

More from Angie….

The electricity went out early Thursday, and our generator wasn’t running very well. The heavy cloud cover blocked our TV reception, so, we were getting news only in bits and pieces. We’d heard that 3 people in Cabo had died, one a surfer from Colorado. Tany told us that 2 tin roofs of homes in El Sargento blew off, but other than that there hasn’t been any injuries or major problems. We saw one drowned cow on the beach and heard that there are others that fell into arroyos and drowned. All the garbage stacked up in the arroyos over the years, of course, went with the rain water out to sea and is being thrown onto the beach by the waves. Every bit of brush and tree limb and cactus that couldn’t hold on was in the surf too. There are piles of this mulch-like debris. The number of bits of cholla are amazing. It will be a new hazard to body dragging with a kite for a few days. Every arroyo flowed like rivers, all the streets are rutted with runoff and the main power lines are down near the road to the blow-hole. We heard that power is out all over including La Paz and we think it may be weeks before the power company can get to our small community.

Today, Sunday, we took a ride north, there the arroyos flowed too, but the smaller ones only smaller amounts, the 2 bigger ones far to the north carried a lot of water bringing sand to the beach. It seems that not much damage was done to any buildings and everyone had a safe place to ride out the storm. Now we are all looking at many days of clean-up. Bonnie & Johnnie, Ann-Marie & Franz, and Ken& Maryellen are the earliest arrivals to the campground this year and have started the clean-up there. During the storm they moved out of the campground, Bonnie & Johnnie into the village, the others to the gate. Their trailers rocked and leaked, but they are ready to settle in for the winter now. I’ve taken lots of pictures, so if you’re interested, come see. See you soon, Angie

The hurricane at it’s worst:

Here is the beach between Baja Joes and Ventana Windsurf. Photo by Esteban

From Esteban

Just a few fotos of some of the souvenirs of Julieta…looks like things were bad but compared to Todos we were lucky…here are a few things I
heard. Campground is wasted which if you look at these fotos of my beach you get some idea of what it may look like, 1.5 hours to drive from La Paz
to LV, Water system in El Sargento, LV is all messed up, power still out, ….sure looks peaceful as ever though! My cat Tigger got hit by something
and died on the way to the Vet in La Paz, this is a foto of what must have been his last moments with Christina. Pales with NY and DC but a tragic
event nevertheless. Hope you and yours are all well. See you down there soon.


Mex Hwy 19 photo below

From Sharon

I got some details about the storm damage from Fran today. 3000 homes lost in Cabo area, Cabo marina is gone. Impossible to drive to Barilles from Cabo airoport because of a wash at Las Cuervas (by turnoff to La Ribera). The No. Beach arroyo was much more damaged then the last flood. The last beach lot is totally gone, the walls of the 3 homes near the road are gone and it appears there is a dropoff in front of their garages. It’s also impossible to drive north of the No Beach arroyo because of the drop off. However, someone went by CeCe and Steve’s home and said it’s OK…this is good as your home is very nearbye. You can get to Barilles from La Paz but it takes about 4 hours and one must drive thru the San Bartollo arroyo as the main road is not passable.

30″ of rain fell in the San Bartollo in less the 24 hours!

So…no phones (except cell), no water, no power. I think Cabo is also without power. Not really the time to leave for there!

I will let you know anything else I hear, Wayne is waiting in Guerrero Negro till they let them go, as it’s not possible to get to Loreto because a bridge is out. The Santa Rita bridge before La Paz is also gone.

Also, 3 feet of water in downtown Barilles. Wow…Sharon

Photo of La Ventana Windsurf Beach:

From Sherman Island Lane,

The Hurricane really hit Mexico hard. Right now you can fly into Los Cabos but you might not be able to get anywhere after that. All bridges south of La Paz are out. The Marina in Cabo is gone! Some 3000 homes in Cabo are gone. The road from La Paz to La Ventanna is barely passable via 2 wheel vehicle. The campground in La Ventanna has been destroyed and may not be usable in time for the winter season. The road from La Paz to Los Barriles is passable to San Bartolo. From there you must travel via the arroyo to Los Barriles. May not be passable on 2 wheel drive at that point. No way to get from Los Barriles to the airport in Los Cabos at this point. Some 50 metal power poles are down. Some 150 wooden poles are down. There is little electricity south of La Paz. Water has not been restores as of yesterday. Everyone planning a trip to Baja should check before they go to confirm their plans. As of now, no phones south of La Paz.

( END )



San Carlos Hurricane Nora Diary (September ’97)

By Chris & Annie McNeil
Photos by Mike Godsey



UPDATE BY: CHRIS – No A.M. wind. Hike the mountains with Annie after coffee and muffins- and end up at the rock beach by airstrip. Surf the Stewart longboard with Dale and Annie at Bombora. Fun drops then a long slow ride to the gap. More wind at the point than up here. Watched Dale sail the Fanatic surf/sailboard. Another feast with BBQ lobster, tri-tip ala Kevin. Lunch was an epic Luis special – corvina ceviche. Watched Marc’s TV and weather channel tracking the big hurricane (Nora). Where will it hit? No one knows, but Marc is packing it up! He has been here since early August and was leaving soon anyway.


UPDATE BY: ANNIE – Surfing wasn’t very easy, but once in a while I was rewarded with a gliding ride. Chris had his eye on the larger sets at the Bombora and sensing his need for more challenging conditions I said I’d paddle out with him. At the Bombora he would move deep into the shoulder as it jacked up, well overhead and take off deep+steep, riding what seemed like a quarter of a mile into shore. I was too chicken to take off on the Bombora wave so I paddled back to the former spot and surfed on my own for a while. Later in the evening huge cumulus clouds gathered east of us on the shore and a light show of thunderbolts went off. I was feeling a bit scared and asked a lot of questions about storms in San Carlos, (eg. that couldn’t be the hurricane could it?!) many questions unanswered or with a general “no cause for alarm” attitude. I began to feel like the overreacting female.






CHRIS – Sunny and hot, very light wind. Collect trash with Kevin and Dale of Solo Sports from all of the campers. Talked with Sheldon while Annie surfs. Swell increasing. Peaky waves at Bomby with 2-3′ inside. Fish Camp stop to drop off water barrel for Luis’ trip to El Rosario. Chill out with Luis and his homeboys in Luis’ crib. Red tide at fish camp. Take Fanatic surf/sail board out to Bombora, caught inside after 2 rides, leash snaps, board on rocks. Dale saves it from total destruction. Damage report. 2 small areas of chipped gelcoat. Then it hits us. A cloud burst front comes down the mountain. We watch a tent roll over the cliff down closer to the point. Our camp handles it well. Pretty soon the sun is out, humidity is up and we’re BBQ’ing chicken for dinner, while all the other camps are putting it back together.



CHRIS – Short A.M. shower, kona winds, swell a bit bigger, full cloud cover. A.M. session at Dale’s left with 6-10′ faces. Epic session with Kevin and Dale as wind is El Norte and blowing straight up these mackers. Great waves, great conditions, only three of us in rotation, plenty o’ waves for everyone. Mountain bike to rock beach by landing strip with Annie. This beach is exactly like Goat Rock beach at the mouth of the Russian River, but twice as steep and very loud from the rocks getting polished. Afternoon surf with Annie out front. Large stormy waves, lefts and rights, rain starts up again. Another feast, then we all enjoy the cool evening air – oblivious to the night of terror we are about to endure. The wind increases with gusts of 20 to ?. The camp, set up for the prevailing winds, cannot hold up for this bitch of a wind from Nora that is coming in the opposite direction. Two sections of awnings take all the abuse as they peel back in the blasts. Annie and I head for the van and sleep fitfully as it rocks back and forth in the stronger puffs. Kevin and Dale tent it and wake up soggy.


ANNIE – Evening brought increasing fear about the looming storm. The water began to look disorganized and dark and when the strong winds and rain came I opted for moving into the van for the night. Not a wink of sleep, feeling the van rock sideways, making a sick sound with the raging wind and waves making thunder. I woke Chris up all night saying, “I’m scared!” I kept thinking the van was going to fall over or be pushed, sliding in the mud, off the bluff into the angry ocean. I was terrified and the only thing I could think of was seeing my two little boys’ faces again. I kept asking “Is THIS THE hurricane?” given answers of “no” or “I don’t know”. I tried listening to the radio but the only information given was that the hurricane was in Baja. Daylight arrived painfully slow.



CHRIS – Wow! What a night! Damage report: 2 10X20 awning sections mangled like they were made of wire. Kevin’s tent rod snapped forcing him into a back up tent. A few lobster traps pushed by the surf with the shorebreak. Fishermen from the fish camp reported news of winds up to 80mph during the night and that a few fishing shacks were flattened. The surf is another notch larger and lumpier than yesterday, wind is side-off and howling. Spray off tops of waves is spectacular. Quick drive around to check on all the campers. The driving is almost impossible on even the flattest ground as the mud beneath sucks the tires in. Hope this rain stops soon so the road will dry out in time for us to travel it. Everyone OK and holed up. It continues to rain lightly. Driving is tricky at best, Nora is here to party. Annie heard radio reports that the storm is heading inland over central Baja, then up towards Phoenix and Tucson. Rain continued ’til noon then stops, blue sky visible over the ocean to the south and west. The swell is HUGE at the Bombora with 15-20′ faces closing out. We watch in amazement. Dale and I surf out front, some fun head high peaks, steep drops and fast sections. Dale redeems himself with a late take off on a critically vert, overhead right barrel-does he make it? ASK DALE? Ribs on the BBQ after a hike up the mountain to the cross (Nora had blown it over). Early to bed still a little soggy), we are all tired from the previous night.


ANNIE – So happy to see daylight. Throughout the evening the howling wind had switched from NE to NW and I heard radio reports that the hurricane was going to arrive in Arizona by nightfall. Again I asked the questions, “So Was THAT THE hurricane? It sure felt like one!” With responses of “NO, NO the hurricane was 100’s, maybe 200 or 300 miles from here!” At that point I began to trust my own feelings. Later in California we found out that the hurricane passed directly over us and that San Carlos was within 20-50 miles of the eye. Light on the Bombora revealed double mast high waves. From my limited experience I couldn’t exactly tell the size of them, but was told that they were double-mast high and could inflict significant damage. Too exhausted to attempt surfing out front in overhead conditions I biked to the point observing the beauty of surging volumes of water pushing their way into the Chili Bowl. It was good to be alive and I felt like crying.



CHRIS – Clear A.M. light tradewinds, surf is still huge, but a little cleaner. The Bombora is whitewater, the inside = a nightmare. Coffee and bagels and we’re off to check out the surf. The fish camp right is going off. Dale, Kevin and I score another epic session. Unlike the rides at Dale’s Left these are endless waves with sections that jack completely covering you for moments them spitting you out down the line. This session and the one at Dale’s Left rank as the two on the top of my list for larger surf.
-Lunch and rig for sailing. Me on 5.5, 9’1″ Blair, Annie 4.5 Ezzy, 8’3″ Mistral. Very light inside, powered on the outside, but mast high Bombora waves keep you in check – no going out there – certain disaster!! Inside is pretty big, too – not easy for some. We take a break and watch the action, then Solo camp gets the 911 call. Can we help the lady with the gaping leg wound? They bring her over and every one scrambles around, luckily Solo Sports 1st Aid kit is loaded. 10 stitches are placed in her outer right thigh. The wound was as deep as it was long 3 1/2″. Surgery lasts 1-2 hours, Annie is my assistant and moral support. Julie is taken by her friends to San Diego for further help. The camp quiets down. Last dinner in camp with Luis. Early to bed, early to rise – one more day. Injuries reported in all the camps – this has been a difficult day for some.


ANNIE – I assisted Chris in the surgery, having assisted him many times at the dental office. She was allergic to the available antibiotic and so getting her to a hospital in the States was important. Julie’s main concern was for her friends to be able to stay on and sail, instead of transporting her to a hospital in the U.S. Kevin quickly offered transportation as well. Kevin takes care of everyone – a guy with a huge heart. That evening Julie and her friends blasted off for the U.S. Later, when I was told what her name was, I remembered reading in the recent windsurfing Magazine that she won the Gorge Pro Am, San Francisco Bay Pro Am, and 2nd in the US Open.


Posted in Baja Guide

Smoke on the Water: Early Arctic Blast to the SE Region shows post-Halloween spooky effects.

Radar SE REGION November 1, 2014

By WeatherFlow meteorologist Shea Gibson.

On November 1, 2014, we had quite a unique winter event occur in the SE Region. There have been quite a few anomalies in the weather this year pointing towards a stronger winter pattern in the south, with this event in particular sparking an unusual surge of cold arctic air and wintry precipitation into SC/GA.

A cold front was lining up to cut through the SE region and bring colder air behind it, which is a typical setup for the SE Region this time of year.  Models were leaning towards combining of Lows offshore NC/VA and sliding north.


 What the surface map looked like on November 1, 2014 at 0700 – Low pressures stayed separated and the one to the south dipped a bit further south than anticipated:



What happened was that Low pressures tracking along the boundary (they usually head up the boundary to the NE or East with the front) combined just before crossing the Appalachians. A stronger upper Low formed and instead of heading up the coast, it pulled down to the ESE and wrapped the colder air down and around behind it. With the abundance of cold air at the mid and upper levels, many locales with air temps in the mid/upper 30’s saw snow and sleet fall through the morning hours to many midlands locales from Columbia, SC down to Augusta, GA and even some flurries down along middle/southern coastal SC. Areas with freezing temps got as much a 2 inches of snow to stick. Hmmm. Do the quickly cooled Piedmont soil types have anything to do with these areas where wintry precip stuck? Air temps were in the mid 60’s the day before. Just a thought – perhaps a blog for another time.

Photo by Brad Dyar in Greenwood, SC, Nov 1, 2014.


The track of the Low was more of a downward arc as it headed towards the Atlantic and then peeled up the coast to join another coastal Low for a total Nor’easter event up north. Much of this movement was due to a major dip in the jet stream (Rossby wave). Here is the 300mb upper air pattern with a very sharp dip down into Florida:



Here you can clearly see the track it got caught up in, beginning in the Tennesse/KY  Valleys and swooping down across SC after crossing the Appalachians.

Radar SE REGION November 1, 2014


The cold air caused a visually unique and not-too-common event over our local waters – called Sea Smoke…also called evaporation fog or steam fog.  When the cool air mixes with the warm moist air over the water, the moist air cools until its humidity reaches 100% and fog forms. This gives appearance of “wisps of smoke” rising off the surface of the water. Very impressive to watch. Pictures really don’t justify the visual experience, but you can see the effects.

Photo by Peter Maloney, Station 12, Sullivan’s Island, Charleston, SC, 11/1/14 (overlooking the Charleston Harbor)


Photo by Peter Maloney, Station 12, Sullivan’s Island, Charleston, SC, 11/1/14 (overlooking the Charleston Harbor)





View from webcam at Fort Moultrie overlooking the Charleston Harbor – compliments of local Adam Jones with an admin manual whirl of the camera and the screenshot to accompany.




So the forecast that morning:




Well, winds built quite a bit stronger in the afternoon as the center of the Low pushed through just to the north of Charleston- especially as the exiting occurred and the gradient tightened along the western and southwestern side. After 2:30PM, values came up significantly as averages topped out at the 34kt range right before 4:00pm – pushing 42kts in a gust before easing back down to upper 20’s with low/mid 30’s through the rest of the day.  NWS Charleston did issue a public information statement with our station reading.

Here’s the graph and information recorded from our sensor at the Fort Sumter Front Range Light:

11-1-14 graph Fort Sumter



As I drove from the Wando area of  Charleston to south Folly Beach that morning, the air temperatures dropped from 46° to 40/41°. Once at the southern tip of Folly (Folly Beach State Park), there were 2 kiteboarders already riding and winds were pretty solid with some moderate pulsing. As we were getting gear together, a low level area of clouding approached and temps dropped a few more degrees to the mid/upper 30’s (definitely felt the change by a several degrees) and a few small flurries became visible. We rigged up and during that 10 minutes, Sea Smoke started to appear on the surface. Water temp was ~71° as recorded the day before to give you an idea of how “warm” the water was. The gustiness of the wind field increased with the developing Sea Smoke, which created holes in the more consistent flow at the surface. Typically we see this type of marine effect to the wind field with warmer air and cooler waters..in this case the opposite. This made for much higher turbulence – and the cold air mass over the warmer water surface was unable to absorb the vapor – hence the evaporation effects we got here all around the Charleston area. You could literally see the spiraling columns of air being blown along by the wind – and you could definitely feel it in the kite as the yield spread between gusts and lulls were upwards of 15 kts at times.

NWS Charleston issued this at 3:55pm after reports of sleet and flurries – air temps were UP and DOWN so the very sparse wintry mixes were in and out.


One interesting note…Sea Surface Temps dropped from 71° to 64.9° over a 2 day course starting with this event.  That’s a pretty significant drop for the SE Coast over a 48hr period.

All in all…this was definitely one for the records for future occurrences – and good learning material.



Shea Gibson

WeatherFlow forecasting team

SE Region




Posted in Coastal South Carolina

Early Fall Nor’easters for 2014…record Low temps on the way.


by WeatherFlow meteorologist Shea Gibson.

As we enter fall 2014, we are starting to see a colder-than-normal climate set in along the eastern half of the United States. Typically fall brings a mixed bag of cold air and winds with warm air masses still showing overall milder air temperatures as averages; however early snow and full scale Nor’easter events look to be showing up a bit early.

Here is a surface map of an impressive Low off the NE coast from October 23, 2014 where pressures dropped to between 992 -995 millibars.  This system was a slow mover to the NE and hung around for almost 3 days. Air temps dropped into the upper 40’s to low/mid 50’s for high’s.

SFC 10-23-14


One of the highest readings in the area from the initial surging came from Scituate, MA on the night of October 22, 2014. Our sensor there grabs a good clean fetch from the NNE/NE direction – and it topped out at 56kts – or 64.4 mph right around 9:40PM.


Here are 3 gif’s Nullschool wind maps – notice how well developed this Low is from the surface all the way up to 34,000 feet (and even higher). Very impressive.

Surface wind .gif on Oct 23:

10-23 Noreaster

Higher up at 500hPa (18,000ft).   Winds are  ~110-130kts along the southern and southeastern portions.

10-23 Noreaster 500mb

And even higher at 250hPa (~34,000ft). That’s ~130-140kts along the southern and southeastern portions.

10-23 Noreaster 250mb


Even though this event did not produce wintry precipitation to the coastline, we have a wintry weather coastal Nor’easter lined up that most models are agreeing with developing off the ~SC/NC coast and quickly sliding up to the NE United States.

The GFS shows development starting further south off of SC and bending up into the New England coast and bombing out at 980 millibars (possibly even lower) over New Brunswick/Novia Scotia. Most of the wintry precipitation looks to be confined to the mountainous areas up and down the Appalachians and further north into Maine up into Canada. Possibly developing in the Ohio Valley as a Great Lakes Low drops into the mix to combine with the Coastal Low.

Notice the strong dome of High pressure wedging down into the center of the country and heading east…and at 1031 to 1033 millibars will surely create a strong gradient between these two systems for strong winds at the surface along the East Coast.

GFS 10-30-14 06z


FGS 10-29-14


The Euro is showing initial development further north off of NC with a wide dual-split of the Low pressure center before re-combining, weaker overall pressure (995mb’s) at peak strength and a slightly faster progression towards the NE.

12:00AM Saturday:

ECMWF 00z Sat

12:00AM Sunday:

ECMWF 10-30-14


12:00AM Monday:

ECMWF 00z Mon

The outlook is for record low air temperatures to extend all the way down into Florida in the 30’s.

Air Temps


So all-in-all, the report released by NOAA for the winter outlook for 2014-2015 shows some interesting pattern for the Deep South and SE Region – higher than average precipitation and lower than average air temps. Looks like we’re getting somewhat of an early start!


Posted in Coastal South Carolina

Understanding Baja winds

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The Baja Peninsula is 760 miles long with a backbone of rugged mountains Baja Relief Mapextending its entire length.

Only a few small towns  dot its length except for the extreme north and south ends.

On the eastern side of Baja is the warm to hot Sea of Cortez. On the western side is the cold to moderate Pacific Ocean. Towards the south end of Baja is the area know as the East Cape where the famous windsurfing and kitesurfing areas of La Ventana and Los Barriles are located.

Baja’s East Cape winter winds are a combo of 3 winds

1. El Norte winds from the 4 corners. (range 10-30 knots, strongest at night & morning)


2. Local NNE sea breezes (range 6-14 knots, strongest noon to 4PM)


3. Combo of El Norte + Local Sea breeze. (range 16-35 knots)

4. North Pacific High’s surface NW winds coming over from the Pacific. (add a gust/shift factor and push the El Norte wind away from shore.

1. El Norte winds:BajaHP4corners

These winds are created by the pressure gradient from a weak to strong high pressure area in the 4 corners or Great Basin and low pressure south of Baja.

This high pressure typically develops after a storm system passes over California.

If there is not another system inbound then the North Pacific High slides up the California coast. A day later a ridge frequently extends from the NPH over the Pacific Northwest and far Northern California.

Then if conditions are right this ridge evolves into a separate high pressure area over the Great Basin. For the strongest El Norte winds the high pressure has to be centered over the 4 corners. (where all the square states and people meet)

Watching the time line in this animation you can see this happening in an early season mild El Norte event.

Watch as the NPH extends a ridge and high pressure develops over the Great Basin.

Once this happens notice how the isobars stack up over the Sea of Cortez.

The ideal location for strong El Norte winds in Baja is for the high pressure to be centered over the 4 corners area.

This high pressure is typically develops overnight and is strongest in the after midnight hours.

BajaClassic El NorteIn a strong El Norte the Sea of Cortez winds abruptly the winds ramps up to the 20-40 knot range after midnight and big surf awakens people from their sleep.

These winds are strongest far from shore but move towards shore as in the inland valleys heat. If there are any clouds, especially inland, the El Norte winds is weak at shore and mostly outside.

The next animation shows the wind flow pattern that resulted on this particular day.

Notice the high pressure near the 4 corners and the winds spiraling outwards from the high pressure.

Also notice how this creates weak Santa Ana type offshore winds in Southern California.

But a combo of the Baja Peninsula mountainous backbone and the subtropical low pressure to the south concentrate and funnel these winds down the 700 mile fetch of the Sea of Cortez towards Baja’s East Cape.

In Baja these northerly winds are know as the El Norte winds. And in hours they turn the typically mirror calm Sea of Cortez into a  heaving mass of big swell and strong winds.

Since these winds can develop so rapidly it is still common for unsuspecting fisherman to lose their lives to these winds.



2. Local sea breezes


3. Combo of local sea breezes and El Norte winds.

The local sea breezes on Baja’s East Cape are mild extremely localized winds and are useful for kiteboarders and windsurfers at only a few sites in along the Sea of Cortez. In the early days of windsurfing people camped at over a dozen different sites from Bahia de Los Angles to Cabo Pulmo. Gradually they learned that most  of these sites only blew in strong El Norte events since they lacked significant local sea breezes.

Gradually windsurfing concentrated at first at Los Barriles and later at La Ventana since only these sites have the prerequisite topography to generate local sea breezes above 10 knots.

La Ventana has the perfect set up for local sea breezes and a less perfect set up for El Norte winds. This means on big El Norte days it is less windy and has smaller swell than Los Barriles since it is partially inside a bay unless you go a mile or more from shore. But when the El Norte winds are weak they combine with local sea breezes to create wind that often reach the 15-18 knot range.

Los Barriles has a perfect set up for El Norte winds but less than perfect topography for local sea breezes. So it has stronger wind and bigger swell during big El Norte days. But on the many days when there is no or only weak El Norte winds the weaker local sea breezes may mean too weak of winds for windsurfing and sometimes even kiting.

So when someone asks which site, La Ventana or Los Barriles, has better winds…. The answer depends upon the relative contribution of local sea breezes and El Norte winds on a given day.

So using the graphic below let’s look at La Ventana and Los Barriles and their local sea breezes and how they interact with the El Norte and the North Pacific High’s surface NW winds.

First let’s zoom into Baja’s East Cape remembering that there may be weak to strong El Norte winds coming down the Sea of Cortez.

Find La Ventana and Los Barriles and notice how Los Barriles is more exposed to the NNE El Norte winds while La Ventana is partially tucked into a bay and the wind shadow of Isla Cerralvo.

Now let’s zoom some more. Comparing La Ventana, on the left, notice how it only receives weaker El Norte winds compared to Los Barriles. Now focus on the inland valleys to the south of both locations. Notice how the Los Planes valley south of La Ventana is very flat and surrounded by mountains.

In the morning in La Ventana, if there is NO El Norte the waters are typically glassy calm. Or if there is a weak El Norte it will be glassy for the first several miles near shore with distant white caps from the El Norte winds. As the Los Planes valley warms up, assuming there are few or no clouds, the air near the lands surface warms and expands creating a thermal low pressure area. This causes a local sea breeze front to develop to the north which first hits El Sargento then arrives at La Ventana. You can see this front as a dark line in the photo.

A similar process happen at Los Barriles. However as you can see the valley south of Los Barriles is open to the south so the thermal low can expand towards Los Cabos making the temps there warmer but weakening the Los Barriles pressure gradient. Hence weaker local sea breezes. Baja wind Presentation

Effect of the North Pacific High’s surface NW winds on the El Norte windsUnderstanding Baja winds

When the Baja’s East Cape wind is a combo of weak El Norte winds and local sea breezes the winds are typically steady and start at or very close to the beach. However strong El Norte winds are a mixed bag.

The El Norte winds in the early morning are fairly steady winds but as the day progresses they sometimes become very gusty or shifty or very weak near shore. This is especially true at La Ventana and especially at El Sargento north of La Ventana. While Los Barriles typically has steadier winds during a strong El Norte.

This animation below shows why this happens. Notice in the left image at 8AM the El Norte winds flow smoothly down the Sea of Cortez. If the North Pacific High and its NW winds are far from Baja this smooth flow continues through the afternoon. So the El Norte winds are steady and close to shore while the big swell is smooth and starts only a few hundred yards from shore.

However if the North Pacific High’s NW winds are close to the pacific side, as in this animation, there is a problem. As the interior of Baja heats up the NPH’s NW winds are sucked though gaps in the mountains of Baja. Looking at the 3PM image you can see this happening. This NW flow from the pacific tends to push the El Norte winds further from shore.  This NW winds is turbulent so the El Norte winds seem gusty and shifty as the 2 winds interact. This NW flow also causes a small cross chop to develop over the normally big smooth El Norte swell. Even without computer models you can anticipate this effect.

El Sargento is very exposed to this evict while nearby mountains protect Los Barriles. In the morning look to the north and if you see any clouds streaming from the NW rather than the North be ready for a difficult day.

Posted in Baja Guide, Columbia River Gorge, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

Gravity Waves over New Hampshire/Vermont


by WeatherFlow meteorologist Shea Gibson.

October 15, 2014 proved to be an interesting setup over the central United States and Ohio Valley region. We had a significantly tight dipping of the jet stream from Canada down to Florida and back up – also known as a Rossby Wave.  A closed upper level Low was caught in the dip and was occluding with pressure around 1000-1008 millibars with fluctuations until the majority of the frontal activity was ripped away and pulled eastward. One of the visible results from this activity was “Gravity Waves”, which are a unique and interesting cloud pattern developed from an inversion of the atmosphere where air warms instead of cools as it ascends. The environment for Gravity Waves is favorable when a warm stable layer forms where warmer air rides along a quasi-atmospheric river of sorts – particularly in the Upper Troposphere Lower Stratosphere (or UTLS Region).  The clouds become visible as water vapor saturates in the areas where air is ascending – becoming a more buoyant stratified fluid and appearing as ripples.  In this case, the ripples remained for quite some time and appeared stationary as convective outflow from the south pushed cloud tops to the north from the Troposphere up into the Stratosphere.

First let’s take a look at the 300mb (~30,000ft. up) polar jet stream showing the Rossby (tight dip southwards in the jet stream) for a 2 day run. We can guestimate about ~100-120kt winds up at that height:

October 15th – 16th

Jet Stream 300mb 10-15-14


 Now let’s take a quick peek at the surface maps:

sfcmap (2)


So looking again at the surface map, here is what is going on:

Gravity Waves 10-15-14

Here are the key elements for Gravity Waves to form – as discussed by Frank Azheimer with the US National Weather Service, Charleston WFO.


 So when we break it down we have:

1. A well edged and well defined upper level trough to the west – present

2. A strong jet stream on the eastern side of the trough  – present

3. Occured between the inflection point of trough to the west and ridge axis to the east –  present

4. Occurrence north of warm front activity extending east ahead of Low – somewhat present extending just east along Canada/US border  (upstream warm air and moisture suffices for the warm front activity)

Here is a visual:



Here you can see the ripples form and remain stationary while the rest of the activity streamed north and east.  Land features such as the Adirondack Mountains also assisted with this. Some of this rippling you can even see extending up into the northern Maine and New Brunswick areas just near the end of this loop.

(The “H”‘s in this GIF are supposed to be “L”‘s for Low pressures – seems there was a technical issue that day with the NOAA GOES site).

GW's 10-15-14


Even though they look a little more impressive from satellite view from overhead, they still look unique from the ground. Here are some examples:













And this one was another event up in the Northeast United States, where the region systematically encounters multiple fronts converging ahead of dips in the polar jet – especially in the cooler months. Might be something to look for any time we see a Rossby Wave bulging southwards into the United States.



Other cool ones, including waves in the wake of the mountain tops of the Sandwich Islands and an arc’ing of waves off the coast of California…











Posted in Coastal South Carolina

Autumn, geese and North Pacific High depart to the south.

NW winds fade on the California coast.NPHautum

by Mike Godsey

Its that time of year. The average location of the NPH drops south of the Bay Area and focuses west of the Southern California coast. And in the coming weeks the NPH will continue to shrink and move further south. Sometimes it will move towards the Baja Coast other times it will abandon the entire west coast. Today in this video we can see the NPH shoved south of the Bay Area by a storm system passing to the north.

Posted in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

North Pacific High takes refuge in winter vacation home.

San Carlos, Baja Norte is center of the wind universe.SanCarlosNWbaySW

by Mike Godsey, mike@iwindsurf.com

Ever wondered where the North Pacific High goes to when it abandons the California coast in late fall? Sometimes it just disappears from the pacific but more often it moves closer to the equator. And at times it lurks near its winter vacation home just west of Baja. And on those day Punta San Carlos has great wave sailing.

In this animation you can see most of the Pacific is a mess is you are looking for quality wind. The Bay Area is preparing for weak southerly storm winds. Hawaii is bracing for hurricane Ana. And there just west of Baja sits “our” North Pacific High creating NW winds for the hardy souls camped on the bluff enjoying perfect side offshore wave sailing.

Posted in Columbia River Gorge, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

Battered North Pacific High sulks west of Southern California and Baja

So NW clearing winds between storms.StormTinyNPH

by Mike Godsey, mike@iwindsurf.com

As you know the waters between California and Hawaii are dominated by the clockwise winds of the North Pacific High most of the summer. But as winter approaches huge counter-clockwise spinning storm systems like the one you see in this video shove the NPH far to the south. And in this case hurricane Ana has taken over the southern parts of the North Pacific High’s home waters.

This time of the near the ITCZ which gives birth to the North Pacific High is also moving southward so the average location of the North Pacific High keeps moving to the south even as the North Pacific High weakens.

Oh…. you are wondering what the heck ITCZ means? Google it and next spring, when the ITCZ moves northward and the NPH moves towards California I will do a blog on it.

Posted in San Francisco

Hawaii and hurricane Ana…

HurricaneAnnaTodayTrade winds

give way to

Hurricane winds.HurricaneNearHawaii 

by Mike Godsey,

Hurricane Ana currently a modest hurricane SW of Hawaii should have at least 75 knot winds by this weekend. And it’s modeled trajectory has it coming right over Maui.

The first video shows Ana’s current location while the second video shows Ana’s modeled location on Oct, 18.

When hurricanes are near land or currents like the Gulf Stream the models lose accuracy but over the open ocean they are pretty accurate so if you are kiting or windsurfing the North Pacific High’s trade winds today get ready for smaller gear by Sunday. Probably GUSTY UP AND DOWN winds…..

Posted in Columbia River Gorge, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco