“The substance of winds is too thin for human eyes, their written language is too difficult for human minds, and their spoken language mostly too faint for the ears.”
– John Muir
The storms this winter have been evasive, especially in terms of rainfall. Several attempts have been made to deliver, but sadly lacking in quantity. Nature had its own idea for the foothills, entering last autumn and still here – the winds. The sound of wind chimes blowing is a pleasant reminder. The sky … has it ever been bluer? I don’t think so. But the power outages and downed trees caused by December’s ferocious Santa Ana winds certainly presented an entirely different picture. Often weather forecasts don’t match the eventual occurrence, as we are well aware of. Will nature bring us mild, pleasant conditions or harsh damaging ones?
I should have known better than to state, “No umbrellas needed for the next 10 days.” Or maybe the CV Weekly just got it wrong … (just kidding, Robin!). In all honesty, within six hours after the newspaper went to press last week, the National Weather Service came out with the possibility of rain. No matter; it was a change that we needed. A quick cloudburst last Saturday produced .16 inches, with more on the way – and more winds.
Invisible, seemingly unsubstantial, air nonetheless constantly announces its presence. Landscapes and landforms are created and changed, the ocean’s currents are pushed along and waves crash upon the shore, and weather patterns are shaped, making for seasonal change. The one responsible force is the wind. It takes a multitude of wind-types to perform all these tasks. The Crescenta Valley has winds, unique only to this location – against the mountains and not far from the coast.
Local winds result from differences in temperature and pressure within defined areas. Land and sea breezes are typical of these winds, often referred to as “offshore” and “onshore” winds or flows. During the day air over land heats up and rises, allowing cooler air over the ocean to move onshore – sea breezes. At night, the air over the water is warmer and rises, allowing the cooler air over the land to be pushed offshore – land breeze. Thus our mild climate.
The most obvious focus of Southern Californians is the warm, dry northeasterly winds – the Santa Anas. The layout of our mountains, canyons and valley make conditions ideal. As high pressure forms over the Great Basin, the air is pushed to the southwest and over the San Gabriel Mountains. As it blows through the canyons, it compresses and heats up. It enters (to put it mildly) our valley with gusts at times, exceeding 60 mph. The stuff history is made of, for certain.
As I conclude for this week and look to next, the rain falls steadily outside my window. And it’s cold – 45 degrees at noon! The paper arrives Thursday with strong winds through Friday. A cool President’s Day weekend with a warm-up starting Monday is in the forecast – so far.
The sun just broke through the clouds!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.