watching the weather

The Super Moon escaped me last night behind the fog. I would have been disappointed were it not caused by another rare natural occurrence—the atmospheric river that is headed to the northern California coastline. What a concept to marvel…streams of moisture-rich air simply flowing through the atmosphere and with such timely arrival for my Offshore Heavy Weather class.

Atmospheric River, Northeast Pacific, June 2013
time lapse moisture reading of rare summer occurrence of an atmospheric river crossing the Pacific to Northern California coastline

Weather has always held my fascination. As a kid…it was the sheer power and clamor of storms and the endless dimensions of clouds that inspired awe and the basic science of building a wind vane or making rain with the lid of a pot that fulfilled my curiosity. In college…bored with the absence of dramatic weather in Southern California, it was the confluence of variables, the dynamics, and the apparent patterns that never  repeat exactly becoming mathematical, abstractions of chaos theory and loaded with all the fodder of philosophical connotations. In New Orleans…there were the almost daily summer thunderstorms where you could feel the air collapse under its own weight and turn into water right before your eyes. I stayed for Katrina partly because I believed whatever were to happen would happen and it would be alright but also to experience the scale of a hurricane. I doubt I will ever again breathe air as fresh as I did the morning after she passed through the city. Here in the San Francisco area…I miss the drama of storms but catching the mood of the bay and the rolling fog every day commuting across the Golden Gate Bridge has had its own magic and charm.

Despite all this I have never developed the habit or interest to checkout weather forecasts as part of my daily routines. It surprises me even to realize I have looked up weather forecasts no more than a handful of times so far this year. As a passing observation I generally figure some sort of weather every morning as I get dressed. Is it warmer or colder? Is it raining or not? Does it look like it might rain?  That has been the extent of what I needed to know to get through the day.

Now…I have a reason to nerd out on weather. It’s fundamental to sailing—to know the wind, where is it coming from, how strong, how long, to anticipate the storms building and moving across the oceans, the long range forecasts, the patterns, the anomalies…and add to it the rhythmic variables of the currents and tides. The scale and the systems just became exponential.


MARINE ZONE FORECAST: Waters from Pt. Arena to Pt. Piedras Blancas, CA
June 24, 2013

Synopsis…WINDS WILL VEER INCREASING TO THE WEST AS A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM MOVES INTO THE AREA. UNSETTLED WEATHER IS EXPECTED THROUGH TUESDAY. LIGHT SEAS WILL CONTINUE THROUGH MIDWEEK WITH A LONG PERIOD SOUTH SWELL OF 3 TO 4 FEET EXPECTED TO REACH THE COASTAL WATERS BY WEDNESDAY.

Mon: S winds 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft…becoming 3 to 5 ft in the afternoon. W swell 3 to 5 ft at 8 seconds. Rain.
Mon Night: S winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 3 to 5 ft at 8 seconds. Rain.
Tue: S winds 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 3 to 5 ft at 8 seconds. Showers likely in the morning…then chance of showers in the afternoon.
Tue Night: S winds 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 3 to 5 ft at 8 seconds. Chance of showers in the evening…then slight chance of showers after midnight.
Wed: W winds 10 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 to 7 ft and S 3 ft.
Thu: NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 5 to 7 ft and S 3 ft. Patchy fog.
Fri: NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 6 ft. NW swell 5 to 7 ft…increasing to 7 to 8 ft. S swell 3 ft. Patchy fog.

 

thoughts...