Thanksgiving / ForePlay Week 2020

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Thanksgiving / ForePlay Week 2020

Postby sd » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:28 am

Sunday Morning Perception Update

Today (Sunday) the local airmass (SB front range) is a little more stable compared to yesterday. A few degrees warmer aloft and maybe a tad warmer on the surface. Ojai should work much better than Santa Barbara today.

Despite the weak lapse rate in Santa Barbara, it isn’t inverted, and it appears the afternoon wind will hopefully be minimal so the lift might be weak, but it won’t get scrubbed away? (if the mid-level wind stays light as forecasted) Note, the windy (dot com) forecast is calling for almost no base wind along the SB front range, but the NAM is calling for some light flow from the east early giving way to a little onshore quenching draw from the SW down low.

Still blowing OTB at ridgeline. Expect that to back off after it heats up more, but it might be late like yesterday?

If you don’t mind some exercise, today looks like a better day to fly Ojai. The Nam is calling for some late morning east wind, but that should back off nicely in the afternoon. It will likely be much easier to get over Casitas Pass going westbound than eastbound today.

Tomorrow (Monday) the lapse rate gets a little better on the SB front range, and a little wind pushes in from the west, but still course limited by some east wind down the Santa Clara River that fades later in the day.
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Saturday Morning Perception Update

The fading trend continues with a slightly weaker lapse rate, lower max altitudes and maybe less wind than Friday. Friday didn’t have much wind on our local course so don’t see how it can be much less, but there should be less katabatic offshore drainage down the Santa Clara River.

Yesterday, the wind on the front range was mostly light and variable. I had SW rounding the Painted Cave Windmill (11:15) but had to search down lower on the spine to get enough to reach back across to the VOR. My weak thermal initially drifted from the SW, but by the time I went on glide eastbound with 3200 I had a light headwind from the east. The drift went back and forth. Tim and Jeff were reporting SE wind at 5 to 8 climbing into Casitas Pass early, but then reported SW on their glide toward White Ledge about the same time I was pushing against a SE down lower along the west end of Castle Ridge. I then had light tailwind going over the Pass and down the other side before encountering light east on the Ojai side of Hwy 33. Coming back toward SB it was mostly a light headwind from the west, but on a couple occasions when I got higher the thermals seemed to plow up against a push from the NE.

There was less wind yesterday (Friday) compared to Thursday). So, we’re are hoping for more of the same today (Saturday) in the wind department.

Today (Saturday), our local ridgeline was light from the south up until about 3 am this morning, then turned and is currently OTB into the upper teens, but the local airmass is light and variable up through 6K so I expect the wind across the ridge is a local venturi compression that should back down and be launchable from EJ once it bubbles up. The skew-t forecast soundings are calling for some west at our soaring altitudes. EJ is a better zero wind launch and better in a SE, but when the flow is from the SW our West La Cumbre launch is preferable. West La Cumbre can’t hold as many pilots, but is a shorter hike compared to EJ.

Today likely has the weakest local lapse rate of the period, but Ojai is looking more robust compared to yesterday. The big if is getting there (to Ojai).

It can be a struggle along Castle Ridge (the low zone behind Summerland between Ramero and the Power Line Crossing) because it is lower and less protected from the ocean. If the wind is light like yesterday, and it is working ok down low, then you can likely connect the dots. Onshore flow from the west can gnaw at the weak thermals, but if the wind is light you might be able to claw your way along Castle Ridge. If you can get up to ridgeline along Power Line Ridge, then you get more protection from the ocean and the altitude starts to get better. You need more altitude to “climb” up and over Casitas Pass. Many of the younger pilots will go “through” Casitas Pass but going through rather than going up and over is a roll of the dice and will occasionally result in “landing out” and a potentially long hike.

At Noon Peak I recommend shifting gears. Castle Ridge and Power Line Ridge have closely spaced triggers. Noon, Divide, and White Ledge are big tall mountains with big wide canyon crossings. At noon, it changes from a racecourse to an obstacle course. Slow down and spend the time to get as high as you can. Some days you can expect altitude to spare and race through, but today is not a spare altitude kind of day. It is downhill to Hwy 33 from Divide. If you can get up at Divide you should be able to get around the corner at White Ledge (or along the back ridge behind White Ledge) and race downhill from White Ledge across Hwy 33 to the Nuthouse.

Ojai is somewhat protected from the katabatic drainage but there is still enough of a Santa Anna influence to not recommend going beyond the Topa Bluffs and venturing out into the Santa Clara river without a current wind report. Today is likely the weakest drainage so you might be able to get to Fillmore but expect some east wind at the end of the course.

The big wild card today is how much lower level onshore quenching flow we get from the west. Less is better. The forecast is only an educated guess. Yesterday had less lower level onshore than anticipated and turned out to be a nice day. Go to Know.

Sunday, (tomorrow), the lapse rate improves on paper, but there is also a little more wind. Sunday looks like a good day.

Monday. If you are still in town and able to fly, Monday looks even more robust than Sunday, but still course limited going east. I can’t fly today or tomorrow but might try to fly on Monday.

Tuesday, Not looking as good as our current weather.

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Friday Morning Perception Update

Another good day on the south coast. Most parameters continue to relax through the weekend including the north wind, lapse rate and strength of the Santa Anna, but the airmass is still cool and should work good enough for the next few days.

The course will continue to be limited on both ends through the weekend by the onshore flow from the SW on the west end and the fading Santa Anna on the east end. The east is less robust compared to Thursday, so you might be able to reach a bit further east, but not out into the Santa Clara River.

Today (Black Friday). Like yesterday, we have NE above and with onshore west pulling in underneath. The upper direction has decreased in velocity and clocked around to come more from the NE, which the SB range blocks well. The wind across the ridge line has was much less last night and had mostly backed off completely (by the terrain) by sunrise, so it will be launchable early at EJ. Still need to wait for the morning inversion to break, but I would guess it should be soarable by 10:30ish.

The altitude today looks lower compared to yesterday (which was a little lower than I expected), but still expect to be able to climb above La Cumbre Peak. A little warmer at all altitudes.

Saturday the trend continues. The capping inversion is gone, but so is the north wind so we won’t need it. Still some light NE above and onshore SW down below ridgeline. The lapse rate might be a tad weaker, but still ok

Sunday looks similar to Saturday
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Thursday Morning Update (Thanksgiving Day)

Today (Thursday) looks stellar. Not an open distance day, but I’m confident the Santa Barbara front range offers the best fishbowl in the US this Thanksgiving Day. Don’t be discouraged by the stiff wind across the ridgeline this morning. The wind across the ridgeline has been building all night and is currently gusting into the upper 30s from the NE at La Cumbre Peak. It will block with gusto and gets better in the afternoon. Expect massive thermals to climb strong to a sharp cap near 6K locally, and maybe 7ish over Casitas Pass. There will likely be some sheer turbulence at the top of the thermals.

A mild dry cold front swept by and a strong Santa Anna event is building. Progress eastbound will be limited by increasing wind as you go further east. Locally some filling flow from the west should pull in under the upper level NE flow, so, on our westbound legs we want to be high, but to make progress eastbound, I recommend saying low, but not so low that you get stuck.

The local lapse rate is robust below 6K (below 7K in Ojai). The local surface temperature is forecasted to reach 70F and the 6K temperature getting cooler through the day, starting out around 43F then falling toward 39ish this afternoon, so a temp spread in the high 20s to almost 30 degrees F, which is robust.

The local winds aloft forecast is calling for “Light and Variable” at 3K both this morning and this afternoon. At 6K the winds are forecasted to build from mid to upper single digits. We currently have a lot more wind than that at ridgeline, but my perception is the high ridgeline winds are a compression venturi and dissipate once the day lights off. The mid-day temps should approach 70F, but the temp at dawn was in the low 40s, so we need to give it a little time to heat up. Once it starts to block, it should block quick.

Note, the Winds Aloft “Light and Variable” is for a broad swath of air. Locally, expect substantial draw filling the voids left by the rising air.

There is a lot more wind up high, but as Logan noted, a strengthening capping inversion between 6 and 10K should minimize vertical mixing in that layer and shield us from the stronger upper level wind.

You might be able to plug across Ojai at the lower altitudes, but I definitely don’t want to venture out into the Santa Clara River today. The Santa Anne flow is channeled, so stay out of the wind channels. Fortunately, our south coast does not have a clear path to the high desert, so we aren’t in the drain path.

With an improving lapse rate I expect the day will work fairly late, but expect it to eventually blow OTB once the heating fades.

Friday (Tomorrow) the forecast looks promising. Not as robust as today, but the thermal punch today might be more than some pilots prefer?

Saturday is also looks promising, similar to Friday with some variations, but still a reasonable lapse rate and continued influence from the Santa Anna event.
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Tuesday Morning Perception

Today: (Tuesday, the day before the 5-day ForePlay window), the best option looks like the Nuthouse and back to the beach.

Locally in SB, the day starts out weak and flat, but at least it is flyable in the mountains (too much wind in the mountains yesterday?) The airmass is cool, but it was chilly down low this morning so you will need to let the morning inversion break.

Looks like it will be launchable from EJ earlyish, but not soarable until closer to mid-day. The ridgeline is currently reporting ENE in the mid-single digits, but with a little heating I would expect that should swing around to come in from the ESE on launch?

Down low the local wind is light from the ESE early, then clocking around to come from the west. Up a little higher it is more from the east and a little stronger, approaching double digits in some locations early, then fading later in the day as some quenching west pulls in under the upper level east flow. The east flow at ridgeline eventually gives way to flow from the west, so EJ is preferable up through early afternoon, but by 1:30 to 2 PM West La Cumbre might be preferable. It’s an easy downwind glide back to Parma from West La Cumbre once the flow turns west. On Sunday, Neal stretched a glide from 500 over launch to land at Padaro.

The lapse rate in Ojai looks much more robust than Santa Barbara today. Ojai is less influenced by the ocean.so it will warm up better. With flow from the east and the good lapse rate I would expect pilots to reach 5K early, but it looks even better in the afternoon as the east wind persist in direction but fades in velocity (due to the onshore draw?) and the lapse rate improves, so 6K or better in the afternoon. Recommend an early leg eastbound then turning around to head west over Casitas Pass, If the SB side of the Pass is working, then pilots should be able to get back to SB up through maybe 1:30 PM if they can stay high, but will encounter more stable air and a headwind from the west down lower.

Windy (dot com) is suggesting that Bates might work this afternoon, but I have no idea how Windy arrives at that conclusion. It is currently light out of the east mid-channel. Perhaps the models calculate the good lapse rate in Ojai will pull in some filling flow across Bates and over Casitas Pass?

Wednesday (tomorrow / the first day of the 5-day ForePlay window) looks like a non-contest day? Flyable in the local mountains from the lower launches, but with a weak lapse rate and some onshore flow from the west might break up the weak thermals?

Thursday (Thanksgiving) looks like a probable contest day. There is some stiff north wind just above ridgeline but a strengthening capping inversion and a good lapse rate underneath are ingredients for blockage.

Friday is a bit far out but appears to be the start of Santa Anna conditions. Currently Friday looks so-so, so we’ll see how the forecast unfolds. The Santa Anna is forecasted to be stronger on Saturday, which might be good or bad for the Santa Barbara range.

So to pick 2 days out of 5 starting Wednesday… I expect the meet director will elect to skip Wednesday, fly Thursday, and wait until Thursday night to decide on Friday, but the current forecast appears to suggest he might pass on Friday in favor of Saturday or Sunday?
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