Category: Columbia River Gorge

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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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: Baja calm today, strong winds tomorrow… why?

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

Many years ago I spent 3 months per year doing underwater research on Pomacentrids around the islands of the Sea of Cortez. One thing that always struck me was how incredibly fast the weather could go from calm to strong winds.

The next 24 hours will brings such a change as this you can see in this graphic:

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West Coast Wind Blog: Anatomy of a likely big Baja El Norte wind event next week

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

Do you like gambles? So here is a big meteorological gamble. Today Dec. 1, 2019, I am forecasting a big El Norte winds event for the entire Sea of Cortez for Monday, Dec. 16. Normally I would not stick my neck out so far but this is a major event and the upper-level steering winds seem promising. I could be a day or so off on this forecast. And, as always, we need good sunshine in the inland valleys to create the local pressure gradient to suck those El Norte winds reliably to shore. But my bet is still there are strong winds.

Why? Follow this animated graphic carefully a few times and you will see the recipe for a big El Norte blow.

1. Note the isobars around the North Pacific High and the NW winds it is creating near the California coast.

2. Notice how there is low pressure in the Great Basin so there are few isobars near Baja’s Sea of Cortez

3. This produces very WEAK large scale winds for La Ventana and Los Barriles. There may be weak local sea breezes as the inland valleys heat.

4. Next is a critical step. Watch as a lobe of high pressure extends from the North Pacific High towards the Great Basin and

5. Watch the high-pressure move into the Great Basin as it enlarges steadily.

6. Notice how the low pressure exits to the east.

7. Now watch the Great Basin high pressure become stronger with more isobars moving towards Baja.

8. Watch isobars stack up over the Sea of Cortez

9. Watch El Norte winds fill in down the Sea of Cortez towards La Ventana

10. With high pressure ruling the Great Basin and 4 corners we see several days of El Norte winds if the clouds over Baja’s East Cape are not too thick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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West Coast Wind Blog: Here is the sometime wind villain… the Subtropical Jet.

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

Sometimes you will notice a caveat in the forecast that a band of high clouds streaming from SW or WSW may come over us and spoil the wind but stopping the inland valleys from heating weakening the local pressure gradient.

Usually when I mention clouds I am talking about low-level clouds that are often extremely difficult to forecast so I will use weasel words like “Upper-teens winds IF the clouds do not block heating in the inland valleys” Since these clouds form locally or nearby they often develop and move over the valleys after the forecast is published.

Whereas, when I am talking about the higher clouds of the subtropical jetstream I am much more confident about their impact on the winds.   This is because these clouds are in a narrow band extending for hundreds of miles and their location later in the day is far easier to gauge.

This animation of the satellite imagery for Dec. 4, 2019, shows these clouds of the jet completely missing La Ventana and Los Barriles today. Hence the upper-teens or stronger winds.

Now, Thursday Dec. 5, those clouds are much closer to La Ventana making the mid to upper-teens forecast iffy since these clouds may kill the pressure gradient to the inland valleys.

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West Coast Wind Blog: Tropical depression upgraded to a named storm by National Hurricane Center.

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded the approaching low pressure storm to a Tropical Storm named Raynond.

 

 

Below is an animation of ECMWF model of the storm’s trajectory as well is a summary of all the latest model forecasts for trajectory and wind velocity.

 

 

Note that there is great variation since this is a part of the ocean with sparse data for the models to work with.

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West Coast Wind Blog: Still a chance unnamed tropical depression may impact Baja’s East Cape.

 

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com


Here is yesterday’s blog about this storm

This blog tells why the storm forecast was so iffy earlier in the week

This animation show todays imagery of the storm at dawn Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.

As you can see there is a hint of it developing a circular rotation but so far it looks very unlikely to become a hurricane. Still, there is significant rain and winds in this system. Some models have is just wobbling around south of Los Cabos and dying. But the ECMWF European models, which does a very good job on storms, has the unnamed storm coming close enough to Cabo to send significant rain to Baja’s East Cape especially in the mountains.

If this happens we could see GUSTY SE winds to the mid 20’s and significant rain especially towards Los Barriles. If you are camped in an arroyo be ready to move fast and follow the forecasts carefully. Remember that even if it does not rain on the coast heavy rain in the mountains can send a sudden mass of water down arroyos.

(INVEST name means this storm is currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center for the potential for future development. The NHC is a close partner of our company since we run the hurricane sensor network for them: https://weatherflow.com/professional-services/weather-networks/custom-designed-mesonets/the-weatherflow-hurricane-network/

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West Coast Wind Blog: Unnamed tropical depression may impact Baja’s East Cape.

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

If you were flying several hundred miles south of Los Cabos this morning your view would look much like my photo above.

There is a CHANCE this tropical depression 93E.INVEST, currently several hundred miles SSW of Baja will lunge towards Baja’s East Cape on the weekend. If this happens we could see GUSTY SE winds to the mid 20’s and significant rain especially towards Los Barriles.

If you are camped in an arroyo be ready to move fast and follow the forecasts carefully. Remember that even if it does not rain on the coast heavy rain in the mountains can send a sudden mass of water down arroyos.

(The “INVEST” name means this storm is currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center for the potential for future development.

WeatherFlow is a partner of the NHC and our Hurricane Network supports their life-saving mission.)

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West Coast Wind Blog: Star like fog pattern.

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

On the California coast we are used to seeing lots of weird fog phenomenon fog falls, razor-thin fog banks, hard-topped fog banks, fast appearing and disappearing fog masses.

But is rare to see a star like fog pattern in the satellite imagery of the clouds like we see out in the Pacific west of the San Francisco Bay Area today Nov. 4, 2019.

These trails were a mystery when they were first seen in 1965 in the TIROS V11 satellite imagery. But meteorologists quickly determined the cause of those tracks. The diesel exhaust from ships contains aerosol particulates that as condensation nuclei. More and more water molecules aggregate on these “seeds” until a visible cloud forms aloft trailing behind the ship. It also appears that sulfur dioxide from the ship’s exhaust makes the clouds more reflective and allows them to carry more water.

These ship trails are most best seen using near IR sensors on the satellite but sometimes, as in this image, the tracks are easily seen in visible imagery.

So why the star-like image? This area of the Pacific is an area where many shipping lanes cross and by chance today the trails made a star!

Of course, these days when opinions sometimes count more than facts I am sure that someone will see it as an omen that their favorite politician has been blessed by the heavens.

Here are images of many ship trails: ship tracks

 

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West Coast Wind Blog: La Ventana, Baja Sur sensors.

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

At the end of last season Ben installed a new sensor at Ventana Windsports. We did this because the old sensor at Baja Joe’s is sometimes in a partial wind shadow. Longtime Weatherflow customer John S. has installed a sensor on the Campground beach that covers that area nicely.

In recent years the North Pacific High has moved closer to the Baja coast in the winter and sometimes some of its westerly winds trickle across the Peninsula from the west coast. These westerly winds just aloft sometimes push the El Norte wind away from shore and make the winds inside weaker and shifty. I am hoping that John’s new sensor at the Club Cerralvo will pick up those winds in advance. Since this westerly wind phenomenon is most marked in the El Sargento to Hot Springs area be sure to check this sensor before driving to the El Sargento area to kite or do a downwinder. These westerly winds rarely occur when we have a pure local sea breezes but can occur anytime there is some El Norte wind.

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