New Years Week 2020

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New Years Week 2020

Postby DTM » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:41 pm

Monday Afternoon Perception (12/28/20) for Mountain Flying on New Years Week 2020

Monday (today):
The rain has come and we're getting a pretty healthy dosing of it around Santa Barbara, which is great because we desperately need the rain. We're getting enough to fully saturate the ground in the mountains, which may have ramifications in the following days. For now, hopefully you are all safe and dry, enjoying the the rain from a cozy nook by a window.

Tuesday (tomorrow):
I'm starting to have some optimism that Tuesday may be a decent to good fly day. It's really hard to accurately forecast what the conditions are going to be like in our local mountains directly after such a big storm event like we're having right now, nevertheless, the models are giving me some cautious optimism. The NAM is showing a healthy lapse rate all day, and just based on the past, we typically we have a good to stellar lapse rate after a rainstorm passes through. I think that getting well above 4k is definitely on the table, but I am a relative novice at accurately predicting thermal tops and thermal strength, so take that with a grain of salt I suppose.

Importantly, the winds aloft all the way up to 5k from the NNE look fairly manageable, and I am guessing/hoping that our newly unstable air mass will block the N wind once things start heating up as the day progresses. The saturated ground is a bit of a wild card, and may delay the onset on the anabatic flow, as wet ground takes longer to heat up than dry ground, all other things being equal. I'm hoping that things get going by 10am to 11am.

Due to strong winds coming down the Santa Clara River Valley at altitude, I think the course is limited to Upper Ojai tomorrow, if you can get there. Still, that would be a great change from the flying potential (or lack thereof) that we've had in the past week, so even just Upper Ojai would be quite welcome in my mind.

I think the flying window may be from around 10am to 3pm on Tuesday. Probably going up earlier rather than later is a good idea if you have the time. At around 4pm we may get stronger winds pushing through at ridge height, and you'll probably want to be heading out to land by then. Surface winds look relatively light all day from Santa Barbara to the Ojai Valley, so landing conditions anywhere in the area shouldn't be a problem.

Wednesday - Thursday (12/30 - 12/31):
These days look fairly windy to me at altitude (at least in SB), so I'm not counting on them as fly days, but things may change. Perhaps Ojai may be an option as well, but I'm garbage at forecasting Ojai so I won't even try presently.

Friday (New Years Day):
It's a little far out for me to forecast this well, but the wind event that will hit us midweek looks like it may subside by Friday. I am cautiously optimistic that we may get a good flying day on New Years, so let's keep this on the radar and stay tuned.
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SD's Monday night comments

Postby sd » Mon Dec 28, 2020 9:16 pm

Thank you Derek for another well composed and accurate report. It’s nice to get a day’s warning and not have to scramble out the door. I’ll likely skip a detailed look in the morning and simply look to carpool early after taking a quick glance at the winds aloft forecast and Meso-West reporting stations…

To respond to some of Derek’s uncertainty and add some additional perspective…

Tomorrow (Tuesday)
The lapse rate looks robust fueled by a cold airmass. Freezing temperature is around 6K (dress warm). The forecasted high for SB is in the mid-60s yielding a surface to 6K spread in the low 30s. Mid 20s is a good day for SB. Don’t want to scare anyone away, but don’t expect smooth mellow air.

Based on the NAM skew-t forecast sounding, it appears the day starts out with more wind across the ridgeline than a little higher up. Likely a compression venturi? By 10 am it looks like a thermal block is setting up and will hopefully hold through early afternoon, but there is no capping inversion and the wind aloft continues to increase through the day. The vertical mixing will likely pull the upper level wind down eventually.

The thermal block seems to hold up better through Ojai, likely because the flow has a lot of north in it and the Ojai mountains are taller? The macro mass flow seems to be more north than east with perhaps a bit of NW on west end and NE on the east end. Ojai will likely be out of the SW at the lower altitudes.

I suspect the altitude limitation will be related to increasing wind with altitude? With some leftover moisture there might be some early development that could limit the altitude early but the day continues to dry out quickly so the issue in the afternoon will likely be the wind with plenty of blue sky.

The low-level flow in the Santa Clara river seems light, so I don’t know that we will be confined to Upper Ojai. Looks like we might be able to reach Fillmore or possibly Moorpark, but Piru looks problematic.

I would recommend launching early (likely from the Skyport), maybe doing a short leg westbound then getting on course eastbound to get over Casitas Pass before the wind builds. There might be more north wind along Castle Ridge because the range is lower but the protection should improve with higher blocking terrain to the east.

Wilcox and Bates look like they might offer windows with more wind likely at Wilcox and Elings than Bates

Tomorrow (Tuesday) looks like it might be better than Wednesday. and likely the most distance potential for the remainder of the year?

The lapse rate fades as the upper level air warms considerably and some high clouds dampen the surface heating, but it still looks flyable and soarable. High clouds can be a wild card, so there is some roll of the dice.

Elings looks flyable but Bates might be too light?

Looks problematic. More wind but also a little protection from a low and shallow capping inversion. Maybe not enough protection? Some potential for high clouds, but not nearly as thick as Wednesday.

Friday (New Year’s Day)
Is pretty far out, but the current forecast looks flyable and hopefully good enough to get up and out to our traditional Elings T-Hill fly-in…
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Re: New Years Week 2020

Postby LNW » Tue Dec 29, 2020 7:52 am

Morning quick look of Tuesday

Over the back at first light this morning and with no capping inversion a block all the way to ridgeline is doubtful but possible.

As Derek mentioned the extra moisture will slow the heating/ anabatic flow and on top of that the ocean is much warmer than current town temps. I would expect it not to blow in with much consistency until we reach at least the ocean temp of 57f.

Though the base winds are pretty light I expect a good amount of air moving around with such a robust lapse rate so bring your A game.

And finally even though the skew t does not show clouds I believe we have a high probability of seeing cumulous development as the moisture lifts off the ground. Im not sure on the alt of base. The nice thing about the clouds is that they will add extra mass to slow the north wind.

We might have to wait a bit on launch to get off but I believe it will happen so better to be early.

Stoked to get in the air.
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Tuesday / Brotherhood to Padaro

Postby sd » Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:51 pm

Tuesday, 12/29/2020
North Side Brotherhood to Padaro
Tom Truax Narrative
Ayvri web animation link:
Google Earth KMZ File
SD GE Track / Brotherhood to Padaro
(66.57 KiB) Downloaded 36 times

We were hoping for more thermal umph to block the north wind, but the dynamics didn’t align. Perhaps due to the lack of a capping inversions enabling the unstable atmospheric profile to mix the upper and lower altitudes? It did look like a thermal block set up better over Casitas Pass as indicated by the cumulus activity in that location, but Myles reported it was 12 from the NW at Nordhoff High School around noon. Perhaps another variable that Derek noted was the saturated wet ground likely reduced the heating somewhat. There were a few transient clouds on the south side down lower, perhaps 3Kish. The clouds over Casitas pass were in the mid 5s to 6K.

Pilots reported north wind down to about 15 hundred feet a little before noon, then progressively lower as the day aged until it was blowing stiff offshore at the beach later in the afternoon.

Flights to Piru were off the table but despite the redirection 5 PG pilots had great flights from the North Side Brotherhood launch. Not sure why Willy and his HG were watching from the Liminator? HGs have been flying the north side Brotherhood since the mid-80s but for PGs it is a more advanced site because PGs aren’t as solid as HGs when going OTB low through the lee side turbulence, plus the extra speed of HGs is a huge comfort cushion. To the best of my knowledge, prior to Tuesday, I’m the only pilot who has flown a PG from the North Side Brotherhood launch? When I was an instructor in the 90s, I did occasionally launch students from the SS Brotherhood. So, Tuesday was a good day as we grew a little as a community, expanding our experience and collective knowledge base…

East Beach was oozing offshore at our 9:15 meet. A full load in the School Bus from Parma plus other vehicles for social distance, so at least 17 pilots headed up the hill. The Rock was light up, but the Bypass was blowing down hard (gusting into the upper teens?). No one wanted out so we continued up and said hello to Willy as drove by the Skyport. La Cumbre Peak was reporting 20 with gust to 27 as we arrived at the Brotherhood parking gap, but the local wind seemed a lot less.

The SBA Winds Aloft forecast for 14-21Z was 030 at 5 knots for 3K and 020 at 07 knots +1C for 6K. The 21Z–06Z forecast was 040 at 13 knots for 3K and 040 at 25 knots +6C for 6K. Based on the Winds Aloft forecast and other corroborating indicators like the NAM forecast soundings and, we expected the afternoon wind to build but we also thought the mass flow wind was currently manageable and the strong ridgeline wind was mostly a compression venturi. There was some gust spread but we’d flown the Brotherhood in stronger conditions. We were more concerned that the wind might only be up at ridgeline presenting the potential to fall out the bottom of the ridge lift, which might require landing on the north side.

There was patchy snow to dodge on setup if you wanted to minimize getting your canopy wet. The newer PG launch is steep and scruffy with plenty bushy twigs that can snag lines. I was more concerned about a clean launch than I was about the air, so I was happy to go first and take advantage of Logan’s expertise in directing our ample team in getting down the hill with the lines bunched, then spreading the canopy and checking the lines for twigs and snags. (the launch surface is a work in progress and will hopefully get easier as we polish over time).

It’s important for the canopy to come up somewhat straight because you can’t pull it up and then check before choosing to go or not. If you bring it up even just a little you are going to get plucked. The launch is unobstructed laterally, so you can tolerate some misalignment and asymmetry, but you can get blown OTB if you are too far off a perpendicular line away from the hill.

With all the assistance I had a good layout with only a few lines draped over bushes. Waited for a cycle peak to pass then asked the crew to let go. A light shallow test bounce to load and check symmetry felt good, so I gave it a pop and it came up straight. Little kid fun, like bouncing up off a trampoline.

Away from the hill the air was pleasantly mellow. Not as smooth as Bates but you could drive around hands-off seat steering without anxiety. Initially, the altitude was only few hundred over but got better over the next hour.

Logan Walters was off next followed by Cedar Wright and Austin L (not sure of that order) then Eric Stratton needing a couple attempts to get off last.

Aloft the wind was about 10 to 15 plus from the NNE. We had options in addition to going OTB toward the ocean. The ridge fishbowl is about a mile and a half spine to spine, but we didn’t test the east end so only used about a mile of ridge lift. We approached the fishbowl’s east side spine, but to tag it would be a little upwind and maybe committal, so no one did? We could overfly the fishbowl’s west side spine and get back if it didn’t work. I sensed we could stay on the north side and continue westbound across the westside spine, then fall back downwind toward La Cumbre Peak and the Alternator, perhaps next time? We also had reasonable top landing conditions with several spots available. Once up a few hundred over ridge line the lift seemed better out front. Not sure way. Perhaps because there was sun out front to fuel some heating but in close to the ridge it was dark and wet?

At 11 am it was mostly ridge lift with some thermally buoyant zones. By 11:30 occasional big and smooth but weak thermals were pulsing. Due to the wind it was arguably better to figure 8 back rather than falling out the back of the lift doing 360s?

The young guns were ok diving OTB into the lee from the mid-43s (about 600 over ridgeline). Being older and slower I prefer more cushion and less lee side turbulence, so I wanted more altitude. The altitude was getting progressively better as the day heated at high noon, so I opted to wait and see. Wanted to go OTB from the west spine potentially tracking over the RnR, but there were better pulses in the middle of the gap just east of launch. Finally go a good one out front and tracked it back, topping out just as I was crossing the ridge at 4672 (about 900 over ridgeline).

Logan and Cedar had reported sink and some turb up to the south-side powerlines, then bounced back up over Parma and the Riviera, but were still drifting from the north. The ocean had some light onshore texture from the SW up to about the Biltmore point (Butterfly Beach), then glassy toward Summerland. Logan worked eastbound toward Westmont. He reported wind from the NE when he probed east and flow from the NW when he was previously further west over Parma. He opted to head back to East Beach from Westmont with about 3K where he and Cedar landed. They reported light onshore flow below 1500, coming from the SW on the deck at the beach.

I had some drift from the NW on glide, so I went with it toward Westmont where I got a 500-foot rebound bounce to a little over 3K. Might have fallen out the back? Perhaps I could have extended my upwind legs more? Didn’t want to fall out the front and didn’t, but maybe should have tested? Seemed like the top of the lift. I think Austin L got to 37ish over Parma and Eric might have hit 4K in the same area?

Angling toward Elings is reasonable but going further westbound runs into airspace limitations. HG pilots have climbed to 7K in rebound thermals over the harbor, but that also presents airspace issues (between 1500 and 4K south of the freeway).

Wanted to glide eastbound along a line parallel to the mountains. Used some crab angle into the north wind, but gave ground falling off a little toward the beach. Picked up a few hundred just east of San Ysidro Road but had to drift a little toward the ocean which I didn’t want, so I mostly boated through it. Blundered into a big smooth fatty with a solid climb over Summerland Beach, but the drift was significantly offshore, and I wasn’t willing to track it out over the water. The next stretch toward the polo fields was sinky in lee side turb with a 60-degree crab angle to the north. The ocean looked glassy so that was comforting, knowing I had a soft bailout. Had a little altitude left to search downwind past the polo fields but the LZ options looks significantly less attractive than Padaro Beach so I angle right to follow the shoreline as I dropped below the north wind into smooth ocean air at 600 MSL.

Eric came into land at Padaro about 10 minutes later. Austin L is visiting and doesn’t know the options. He was going to head back toward Parma with good altitude from near Polo Ridge. I radioed that he might consider landing at the beach for a smoother experience. He opted for the sand below Lookout Park in Summerland because the parking lot indicated it was likely accessible and not private.

I’d carpooled to East Beach in the morning with Reavis, so he collected my car and grabbed me. I dropped Reavis at his truck and then shuttled Eric and Austin back to their vehicles at Parma. Got to my scheduled 3 PM Goleta rendezvous with my daughter with 5 minutes to spare so the timing worked out great.

Hopefully some of the other pilots and spectators will share thoughts about their first experience in the patchy snow at the North Side Brotherhood…
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