Weather in the Foothills

“At last it comes. You hear a patter … you see a leaf here and there, bob and blink about you; you feel    a spot on your face, on your hand. And then the gracious rain comes, gathering its forces-steady, close, abundant … And never pausing, the close, heavy, soft-rushing noise…”

                                      ~  John Richard Vernon

Cool air originating from the Gulf of Alaska moved into the area with the turn of the calendar page from October to November. October’s heat went the way of the Halloween spooks – gone and no longer welcomed. It seems fall weather has at last settled in as the leaves carried by recent winds gather around the last remaining pumpkins. But the celebration has only just begun. Thanksgiving is just weeks away. And soon after the long-awaited rains of El Niño are expected to pick up ferocity and continue well into the new year.

The storm earlier this week brought little rain considering its threatening dark façade. Temperature-wise let’s just say both the fireplace and heater were called back to duty after a five to six month furlough. Bill Patzert (my weather guru), a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, made comment to the recent drop in temperature: “It’s going to be a real shocker … People can bring out their long sleeved shirts – if they can find them.”

Every year come September and October you hear these words: “I don’t remember it being this hot!” among other similar comments. Usually these don’t hold much water as early fall can be quite warm although fall 2015 is unique and the words are accurate.

October will go down in the weather books as the hottest October ever recorded in most areas of Southern California. The average high temperature was four degrees hotter than the previous hottest October. There were 25 days during the month in which temperatures climbed well past 80 degrees. Why, you ask? Awhile back, I wrote of The Blob, the huge mass of warm ocean water off the coast of California. Well, The Blob is our culprit. Its location and temperature prevents the formation of both the marine layer and the cooling onshore breezes; normally these help moderate the hot land temperatures. Amidst the complexity Mother Nature took notice and is making adjustments. November arrived as November should, cool and cloudy.

With near-empty reservoirs and dead lawns we ask, “When will it start pouring?” With the anticipation and hope of an El Niño-induced wet winter, the question deserves an answer. According to climatologists, winter storms during a strong El Niño season are more frequent and rain producing in nature; but they do not arrive earlier than the normal rainy season. An analysis of past El Niño winters reveals that typically the bulk of rain, producing heavy downpours, flooding and mudslides, occurs in January and February. Remember, weather is not an exact science, so be prepared.

After reading Wednesday’s late-morning temperature, I proclaimed, “Summer has ended!” Under cumulus dotted blue skies, our thermometer read a brisk 55 degrees. I was further convinced when fall leaves flew past. Their destination? The pool.

Weather-wise, typical fall is the forecast. Daytime highs are expected to stay within the 70s, while nighttime drops into the upper 40s. Saturday will likely be the warmest day into next week. On Sunday and Monday a low pressure moves in bringing the possibility for rain to our area. Thus far, meteorologists are uncertain as to the final location and extent – rain amounts and duration – of the storm. At this time, their guess keeps precipitation mostly north of Point Conception (next week’s topic). But the scenario can quickly change, as proven many times in the past.

With opened umbrella, my Pismo Beach sister has eagerly awaited many storms only to get passed over as they continue south … to La Crescenta. Sorry, Sis! Maybe next time.

Sue Kilpatrick is a

Crescenta Valley resident and

Official Skywarn Spotter for the

National Weather Service. Reach her at