Thursday & Friday 2/18-19/2021

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Thursday & Friday 2/18-19/2021

Postby sd » Wed Feb 17, 2021 10:47 pm

Friday morning perception / Just a quick glance at the weather today:
Yesterday’s (Thursday’s) high-pressure NE Santa Anna flow has waned and we are in transition back toward broad NW flow on Saturday. SB typically doesn’t block NW flow as well as NE, but the wind isn’t too strong today so I suspect it should be launchable and flyable in our local mountains.

Yesterday's (Thursday) washing machine air was a bit much mid-day? I’ll try to post my thoughts about Thursday later tonight or Saturday.

Today’s lapse rate is weaker than Thursday, warmer on the surface, but even warmer aloft. The big variable is how much wind we get. It is currently OTB from the NW at ridgeline (stronger than yesterday for this time of day), but calm on the ocean. Ii weaker lapse rate might be a good thing if the wind cooperates and holds off and above. Yesterday’s trend was for the afternoon west to build, but perhaps with a weaker lapse rate the ocean air won’t pull in as much today. Windy says the inner channel water should stay calm, which is bad for Wilcox and Bates cut good for the mountains?

Go to Know.

Saturday (tomorrow) continues to look locally windy from the NW, similar to what we’ve been dealing with for the past week. Looks like less wind in Ojai, so that might be a good call if you are willing and able hike?

____________________________________________
Wednesday night look at Thursday through Saturday

I concur with Sarah (and others) that tomorrow (Thursday) appears to be a good day for flights eastbound from the SB mountain launches after an extended and persistent stretch of nasty north wind. Friday looks flyable but not as good as Thursday, and Saturday appears to be windy again.

There is a lot of wind at my house as I assemble my notes at 10 PM Wednesday night, and the offshore gradients are forecasted to increase overnight, but the direction finally shifts from NW to come more from the NE. Santa Barbara blocks a NE better than a NW partially because the NW wind path from the ocean through the Santa Ynez Valley is rather unobstructed while the mountains to our NE are high (over 8K) and the NE flow is mostly channeled down the Santa Clara River.

The altitudes look OK, but not stellar, hopefully good enough to traverse along Castle Ridge to reach the higher terrain toward Casitas Pass. There is some wind above but we also have some protection from a moderate capping inversion. Locally in SB the upper atmosphere warms through the day so the altitude might be better late morning through early afternoon before the lapse rate fades later in the day.

Through Casitas Pass and Ojai, the altitude looks better by a thousand to 1500 feet (upper 5s in Ojai), then lower again near Fillmore. There is also less west wind east of Casitas Pass, so recommend getting to Casitas Pass and into Ojai if possible. Ojai looks light and variable through the afternoon up to about 6K where the wind increases sharply. The Ojai Lapse rate fades later in the afternoon, but Santa Paula Ridge and Fillmore look better late in the day.

Windy dot com, the Nam Skew-t’s, and the winds aloft forecast show some building onshore flow through Santa Barbara peaking before mid-afternoon. It clocks around from the west down lower through the NW at ridge height to come from the north up higher. Hopefully the overnight wind will scrub away any marine influence so it should work from the lower launches. EJ will likely be launchable, but there might be some flow from the north at ridgeline.

Both Windy and the Nam show light wind in Ojai. The Santa Clara river is projected to be draining hard in the morning but trying to pull upriver in the afternoon, more so at the lower altitudes, and only up to around Santa Paula or Fillmore.

As noted early, the lapse rate starts out good then fades some by mid-afternoon with more fade in Santa Barbara and less in Ojai, with Fillmore actually getting better late in the day. The surface temperature is forecasted to be reach about 70F while the 6K temp starts out in the low 40s then climbs toward the upper 40s.

I suspect the best launch times for XC will be between 10 am and noon, but you can launch later if are intending to stay local and land in Carpiniteria. You might be able to launch a little earlier than 10, but no need for open distance because we are course limited, however, if you want to get back over Casitas Pass after tagging a turn point in Ojai, then you might want more clock. You can likely launch as late as 11:30 or noonish and still reach the bus stop in Fillmore?

The bus stop in Fillmore looks reachable, but not much further. The (VTC #60 bus departs the Community Center in Fillmore at 4 PM and 5:20). Or, you can tag the Topa Bluffs and turn back for the #16 bus that runs from Ojai along Hwy 33 to Ventura, or tag Spine One or Nordhoff and try to get back over Casitas Pass to Carpinteria.

Windy dot com indicates the coastal cliffs might work but Bates can be fickle with teasing wind just offshore.

Friday appears to be flyable in the local mountains, but the upper air has warmed more than the surface so the lift looks weaker. Windy isn’t showing much wind down low so the cliffs look doubtful?

Saturday looks windy from the north
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Thursday 2/18/2021 / Mid-Day Air.

Postby sd » Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:23 pm

I’ve attached my KMZ and the Ayvri (Web Animation) Group link is:
https://ayvri.com/scene/g0jg73pnjo/cklcq9we10000256i86cc554c

2021_02-18_tom_truax_ej_to_pcw_spr_to_cp_to_nordhoff.kmz
SD's KMZ for Thursday 2/18/2021
(353.28 KiB) Downloaded 59 times

I’m compiling this rambling because there were a number of issues on Thursday, including some pilots opting to throw in their towel (or their laundry) for various reason including the unsettled air texture?

Note that my perception is based on my vantage. On Thursday I made an effort to initially stay high along the back ridge (from launch through Casitas Pass) for various reasons. Conditions varied with location and altitude, so your experience is likely different than my recollection.

When I launched about 10:30ish the air was light and mellow with very little wind. The thermals were a bit small and weak but organized. About a 15 minutes later the thermals started to gain strength and go higher. On my return leg from Painted Cave I opted to claw back up at the VOR because I wanted to take the high line. Down low near the terrain the thermals were multi-core and small with some pronounced edges but not too bad. Up higher they were still smoothish for me until around 11:50 when I couldn’t hold the back ridge further east and opted to search south over the peaks on the west side of Ramero Saddle, at which point I noticed stiffer draw and more punch, which was likely due to a blend of being lower and the time of day which was approaching high noon.

I had plenty of altitude along Castle Ridge, but my pucker factor was increasing when I heard radio reports indicating Sangwon had his 2nd deployment. Above Castle Ridge I went a long way (4 miles / consuming a thousand feet) on a downwind dolphin glide, partially because I didn’t encounter an organized thermal that was worth stopping for, and I had enough altitude to be picky. At the east end of Powerline Ridge, I was down at ridgeline and needed a little something to bridge the short gap to the back of Noon Peak, or I would have to angle out for the Trapezoid. I wanted to hold the high ground (this day) so I worked the scraps for a few hundred but didn’t like it.

It seemed like washing machine air going through Casitas Pass. I didn’t take a single tip-fold all day, but I was nervous about the conditions and had to work diligently to maintain conservative attitude control, even during many of my glides.

Through Casitas Pass and Ojai, the thermals were strong, but so was the draw, and the moderate wind was perhaps disturbing the thermal shape and behavior. I needed to be on my toes, ready to react quickly. I wanted to keep plenty of terrain clearance, but occasionally needed to claw in tight to hold the high line, but in doing so was extra conscious of drift and draw.

Being a crystal-clear day the view was spectacular, but I wasn’t having fun. It was a lot of mental work and anxiety. I considered throwing in the towel, but I’ve been there before and counseled myself that if I could maintain my concentration through the heat of the day it should mellow later in the afternoon, which it did.

I’ve been flying for a lot or years and still frequently strive to maximize the day. To continue enjoying our activity after years of repetition, trying new angles, progressively learning and getting better at the craft, helps keep it new and interesting, but to stay passionate there needs to more than numbers. We fly because we like the flying. We do it for recreation. Having made that comment, I also need to note that for various reasons we end up in “scenarios”, and sometimes the best way out is to be aggressive and claw our way up and or over. As others have noted, our options are continually evolving, and it is often advisable to frequently be formulating B and even C plans in the event that our As and Bs aren’t attainable…

We’ve had a lot of high (barometric) pressure days this season, which is a double-edged sword. It has been my experience that SB often works better than the forecast when the offshore push converges with upslope convection flow over the high points of our ridgeline, but mid-day thermals on high pressure days tend to be small and sharp as they plow upward through the broader subsiding and compressing atmospheric contraction. High pressure days also tend to be sunny and the cold airmass receives a lot of sharp differential heating (compared to smoother heating from broad homogenous collectors like big fields).

In contrast to high-pressure, on low pressure days the expanding atmosphere is stretched, which tends to improve the lapse rate of the airmass. Throw in some clouds for a little draw from latent heat release, plus the moderated heating often results in smoother and fatter lift. I like flying on cloudy low-pressure days, but we can’t order up a serving of weather for Saturdays.

I spoke with someone on launch (at EJ) on Thursday who said it was her first time up there. I commented that we liked that the wind was light (rather than strong), and she responded that for a non-pilot that seemed the opposite of what we would want. I briefly explained that for coastal ridge soaring in “mechanical” lift, you do want some wind, but in the mountains, we mostly fly thermals and the wind can gnaw and tear at the bubbles.

To summarize, was scared mid-day on Thursday (I’ve got haunting memories of hitting the ground hard more than a few times), considered flying out to land, but opted to stay in the fight and it got nicer as the heating relaxed and became broader in the afternoon.

I like going downwind. It was mostly downwind (with some local draw exceptions) all the way through Ojai, but I eventually ran into what I perceived to be Santa Anna east flow at Santa Paula Ridge so I turned around and dealt with the moderate headwind going westbound (for 20 plus miles), which I’m not as good at as many of our local pilots for various reasons.

Thanks to Reavis for the quick retrieve just after I zipped my bag. Was only 10 minutes late for my standing Thursday dinner date with Hunter.
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