April 05, 2011

California Versus the Northwest

It is often true that California and the Northwest are often in contention for the wet stuff (and we usually win!). We have seen a number of periods this winter when a trough developing over the West Coast has sent the jet stream and all the moisture down into California. And it is going to happen again.

Last week I was staying in Monterey, California attending the Cyclone Workshop, a regular gathering of meteorologists interested in midlatitude and tropical cyclones. The locals were all talking about the heavy rain that had struck central California for over two weeks in March when the jet had moved south over them (see upper level map below for a sample).Monterey, CA, for example, had 4.95 inches in March, 3.29 inches above normal, and the mountains of coastal CA had much larger amounts. A major impact was a major slope failure along Route 1 between Monterey and Big Sur, closing the road. Broccoli and Cauliflower crops were damaged. And California became amazingly green.

Here is a video showing the failure.

The jet moved back up here during late March and they got warm and dry...and you know what happened here.

But those smug Californians are going to exchange places with us again in a few days! Take a look at the upper level chart for Thursday at 4 AM---a trough will drive the flow and rain into the palm-infested California climes.

Here is the 24h rain ending 4 AM on Friday. We dry out and coastal CA gets soaked. But they will probably take refuge in their hot tubs.

So enjoy our break on Friday....it won't last long. A weak system will hit Saturday and heavier rain on Sunday.


  1. Love this Blog...but when will the rain really taper off?..August?Then it is fall again.

  2. Haha! When I was 8 talked my dad into moving to Seattle, from Thousand Oaks CA. The endless dry summers and the Santa Ana winds I could not deal with. The rain this winter in CA should be great for the annual flowers, but it happens only rarely in CA.

  3. Cliff - just dig into the Calif clime. Its so erratic. At least we get a predictable 40 inches or so of rain each year (with big spring snowfalls in the mountains). CA has droughts for many years, then rain/mountain snow like this year, much more variable than the NW.

  4. It looks like Ireland down there right now. Last week there were temps in the 80s and 90s east of Ventura and the orange blossoms smell real nice.

    101 was also affected. Huge landslide that closed 101 north of Garberville for the weekend. We had to head inland from Mendocino rather than take our usual route up through eureka and Crescent City and 199 to Grants Pass.

    The north wind in the Central Valley was somethin. I have never see the sky that clear. From Williams you could see as far south as Yosemite and as far north as the Trinity Alps as well as Shasta and Lassen. Usually there is just too much haze. But not on Sunday.

  5. It's snowing in Lynnwood just now.

  6. Great stuff Cliff! 35F at my place in Silverdale and mixed rain/snow. WOW! This is April! I'm off to San Diego next week if we get a budget passed.

  7. Video of the snow in Lynnwood available here:


    There's less now.

  8. Snow in Bellevue RIGHT NOW, lots of it, 200' elevation. Wacky!!

    Snow in Bellevue 04/06/11


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