Category: California & Baja

South Winds Speed through California’s Valleys

by Meteorologist Kerry Anderson

This past weekend my husband and I visited Death Valley National Park. How did I miss this gem? I guess the name and reports of the hottest temperatures in the nation don’t exactly make for great PR. But it was awesome. We encountered really strong south winds which of course meant I had to come home and blog about them.  They have developed due to a major pattern shift which won’t be going away for a while.

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West Coast Wind Blog: Cut-Off Low stalls California wind patterns

by Mike Godsey,

Usually, in March we have NW wind clearing winds after a storm. But this storm will seem like it will go on for days. The low pressure of storm system is normally steered from west to east by the upper-level troughs and ridges at the 500mb level at ≈ 18,000 ft. But today and the next several days we have a Cut-Off Low at ≈ 18,000 ft. that is disconnected from the flow of upper-level winds.

Once this happens the Cut-Off Low wobbles about somewhat unpredictably. And if the Cut-Off Low is supporting a surface storm as it is today then the storm’s rains and winds will continue until the Cut-Off Low opens up into a more normal upper trough and departs eastward. You can see all this happening in this annotated model imagery.

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West Coast Wind Blog: Why no NW clearing winds for California?

by Mike Godsey,

It is the gospel (Ecclesiastes 1:14) that after an early spring/late winter storm we see more blue skies and NW clearing winds along the California coast to delight wind Hungary kiters and windsurfers. This model output below for Friday, March 13 shows why we will not see much NW wind for a while.

Notice the first storm that has just passed over Southern California.

Behind the storm you can see a bit of NW clearing wind developing and that may reach Bodega late this afternoon and rest of the Bay Area during the night. But look at all the storms lined up across the Pacific. Also notice how far away from us the North Pacific High is located. Not a promising scenario.

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West Coast Wind Blog: North Pacific High brings NNW wind to the Sea of Cortez…Not!

The winter 2019-2021 season in Baja was atypical in a number of ways.

It started off with a bang in November but from that point on the winds were often unreliable unless you were on foils or big kites or sail. Or if you were there during one of the few strong wind periods.
But the main anomaly was the source of the northerly winds. Typically much of the wind comes from high pressure in the Great Basin or ideally 4 corners area of the western USA. This wind streams towards the persistent low pressure trough south of Baja. Then this N to NNE winds curves into the beaches at places like La Ventana and Los Barriles that have a warm valley inland.

But often this year the Great Basin was devoid of high pressure so we often lost that wind machine. But weirdly the North Pacific High as unusually large and atypically in a more northern location much of this winter. And this often brought solid NW wind to Baja’s Pacific side and NNW winds to the Sea of Cortez.

Unfortunately, NNW winds are at a more unfavorable angle to the La Ventana and Los Barriles and especially the El Sargento beaches. Plus some of this wind can is west enough to come down the arroyos creating weak offshore W. winds at the beaches making for unreliable wind inside. Still, any wind was welcome this season and we became to learn the routine: Strong NW wind on the Pacific side of Baja means somewhat unreliable but welcome wind for the El Sargento to Los Barriles corridor.

Until….. it doesn’t. If the models are right later this week a resurgent North Pacific High brings strong NW winds to Southern California and the entire Pacific side of Baja.

Looking at this animation you can see the North Pacific High and those strong NW winds. But notice how weak the winds are in the Sea of Cortez.

Now notice the huge low pressure in the Great Basin. This is the area where we need HIGH PRESSURE to created classic El Norte winds for Baja.

Now notice how the North Pacific High curve towards the Great Basin low pressure rather than building down the length of the Sea of Cortez. Hence the exception to rule about NW wind on Baja’s Pacific side and a windy Sea of Cortez for the El Sargento to Los Barriles corridor.

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Strong Winds drive down the California Coast and into the Bight on Sunday.

by Meteorologist, Kerry Anderson

Saturday the wind profile for California’s Central Coast and inside the Bight were dramatically different. Onshore flow increased from Santa Barbara to San Diego cooling temperatures and squelching sea breeze activity.  Consequently, winds have been anemic.  Meanwhile, the Central Coast beaches spent much the day with winds in the upper teens and even some moments in the low 20’s.

These winds developed due to a combination of systems. A very strong High-Pressure system reigns over the Eastern Pacific while Low pressure has been sinking southward out of the Plains of Canada and filling into the Great Basin.  Additionally, an upper-level Low is moving down the West Coast.  It is deepening as it moves Southward, bringing cold air back to the area.  All this has combined to create strong NW/NNW winds from Northern to Central California.

But those winds didn’t quite reach into the Bight, so most beaches were generally light.

  All that changes overnight though.  The Low sinks further south and continues to deepen.  That will start NW winds building overnight and driving southward.  Look for upper teens and low twenties across Santa Barbara by morning and working down toward San Diego by the afternoon. But make sure to get out and enjoy them tomorrow because this  pattern changes fast.  The Low exits to the east and offshore gradients build quickly for Monday.

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West Coast Wind Blog: While Baja’s big wind machines idle… back up wind engines carry the load.

by Mike Godsey

In normal years the bulk of the strong wind at the kite and windsurf sites in the Los Barriles and La Ventana areas comes from high pressure in the Great Basin area of the USA. However, the 2019-2020 winter season has seen lots of days when an unusually robust North Pacific High (NPH) has sent strong NNW winds down the Sea of Cortez.

The NNW angle of this NPH wind is not ideal for reliable wind at the beach but if there is good inland valley heating this wind does curve into the beaches.

But sometimes this season both the North Pacific High and the high pressure in the Great Basin have either been absent or too far away to help the Baja Sur winds.

Typically when this happens and we have blue skies we see kiteable mid to upper-teens winds from the local sea breeze as the inland valleys heat. These winds usually are strongest in the Rasta Beach area north of El Sargento and weaker for the La Ventana beaches and weaker yet for Los Barriles.

But there is another wind machine in our area that can ally with the local sea breezes to brings upper-teens to about 20 winds to the area. And that is the thermal trough just south of Baja’s East Cape.

Let’s look at today, February 21, 2020 as an example of this pattern.

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West Coast Wind Blog: Wind quality hinges on clearing. La Ventana vs. El Sargento

by Mike Godsey,

Pretty good wind quality for La Ventana today as the morning clouds in far Los Planes Valley cleared allowoing the local pressure gradient to climb helping the sea breezes and encouraging the El Norte winds to reach the beach. You can see this clearly in the animation today Dec. 21!

But notice how the clouds lingered north of El Sargento and how they turned westerly at times making for unreliable El Norte winds at the beaches below the bluff.

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West Coast Wind Blog: Baja, Today GUSTY, shifty, up and down inside… BUT…

by Mike Godsey,

I think the daily wind forecast and the wind graphs below from Tuesday, Dec. 17 capture the wind quality in the late morning and early afternoon pretty well.

BUT… if you ventured about 1/2 mile outside at La Ventana you got away from the shifty up and down N to WNW winds inside and found:

2 hours of solid 6m kiting. Guessing 30ish+ . Good wind about a half mile off shore. Lot of west near shore but pretty solid north offshore. Clouds disappeared for the most part.”


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