Storm #1 (strong) and Storm #2 (weak)

I got the flu and that’s why I haven’t updated this blog for a while. But now it is time to BLOG THE WEATHER, as California got its first Pacific storm front of the year on October 12, 2009, early in the week last week! And what a first storm it was. Over the next 3 days, up to 20 inches of rain would fall on parts of the state. Typical mountain rainfall totals were 10-12 inches. Mariposa got 12. Marin County’s hills got 10. Typical inland valley floor rainfall totals were 0-2 inch. Fresno got 1.25, North Valley got 2 inches, while the South Valley got zero. Was it a mudslide-o-rama in the hills? There were a few in the Santa Lucia Mountains above overlooking Monterey and Carmel Valley (where it rained 20 inches!), but mostly the earth was just too dry and absorbed the rainfall as fast as it fell. I was too sick to even check the computer to see the mechanics of the storm on the satellite photos, but suffice it to say, very high rainfall totals were widely distributed up and down the stretch of California. When the storm passed over, the air was not that cold. Mountain snowfall melted in a few days. Even Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite, which usually closes down after the first taste of winter, reopened immediately.

There was no significant storm activity left in the wake of the storm, but the sheer amount of moisture it brought was evident in warm fogs and excellent soil saturation. I turned off all my garden watering timers. There is still totally wet dirt out there, over a week later. A small weak front came through early this week, as if to commemorate last week’s monster storm. It brough a few flurries to the Sierras and a brief cool-down that got things just a touch chilly Tuesday night (October 20). Now the warm air is filling back in and weekend temperatures should get up into the 80s.

I’ve been asked “why is the weather so weird?” because I have that “sense of the weather nut” to me. The answer is: in autumn and spring at our latitude the “battle of the air masses” is on. The cold air mass of the north is surging south while the warm air mass to the south are still strong and pushing north. The result: the battle oif the air masses. In Fresno, the autumn battle isn’t normally as obvious as it is in, say, the Great Plains or the American southeast, but thanks to early Pacific cold front activity this year (which is driven by the surging cold air mass), the battle of the air masses is taking place right over our heads. Normally we bask in lingering warm air until finally, late in the autumn, the cold air finally moves in to stay. Not much of a battle to be seen in these parts. But this year, it appears normal has been cancelled.

Looks like it will be a much more active rain year. So, we’ve had two storms fronts move though the last two weeks, one very strong, the other weak. Looks like a good weather year is in progress!! Count ’em up, Storm #1 and Storm #2.

Precipitation Analysis of Storm #1
Storm 1 had picked up the remnants of a typhoon on its journey into California.

Storm Total - Storm of October 11-14, 2009

Day 4 (October 14, 2009)

Day 3 (October 13, 2009)

Day 2 (October 12, 2009)

Day 1 (October 11, 2009)

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