Weather in the Foothills

Posted by on Jul 28th, 2016 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

“Snowflakes of ash fell so lovelily you were tempted to stretch out your tongue to catch them, taste them. Only, they would have scorched your lips …”
~ Young adult book author Markus Zusak
from The Book Thief
Last week the Crescenta Valley was awash with amber-colored light as an ominous plume of smoke rose in the northwest sky. With ashes falling like snowflakes, visions of a time and place in history came to mind – Pompeii and the 79AD eruption of a volcano, Mt. Vesuvius. As the Sand Fire continued along its seemingly never-ending path, the foothills were soon blanketed in smoke and ash. With memories of the not-too-long-ago Station Fire, a smoke plume quickly gets our attention; as with Pompeii when billows of steam rose from Mt. Vesuvius, few have forgotten the past.

Wildfires and volcanoes seem an odd topic for a weather column. Imagine or take a look at an image of a volcanic eruption then compare it with the photo below. Both illustrate pyrocumulus or “fire clouds.” They form from rising air that results from intense heating of a surface. Wildfires and volcanic eruptions give foundation for this natural phenomenon. A big fire produces strong updrafts carrying water vapor and ash high into the atmosphere. The same is true with an eruption of a volcano. Here’s a dichotomy … if enough water vapor collects it rains!

Friday and over the weekend as a flow of monsoonal moisture moves in a cumulus cloud of a different type is expected to make an appearance. Its conditions are notorious for creating massive thunderheads – cumulonimbus clouds, which may produce thunderstorms. Both L.A. and Ventura counties are slight targets. Unfortunately, lightening strikes can accompany thunderstorms. A real mixed bag here … Good in there is a chance of rain and bad due to an increased fire danger.

I will believe it when I feel it. Early next week as an onshore flow strengthens a cooling trend is in the forecast for our area.

As a good and upstanding citizen of La Crescenta, I claim no responsibility for the weather.

Until next week, be cool and stay safe.

    Photo by Doug Kilpatrick On Monday at Ocean View Boulevard a pyrocumulus cloud formation is seen over the Sand Fire.

Photo by Doug Kilpatrick
On Monday at Ocean View Boulevard a pyrocumulus cloud formation
is seen over the Sand Fire.

Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at

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