East Coast/West Coast Difference

That has led to terracing. Row-upon-row of homes get ocean views because they’re built into hillsides.







We went whale watching yesterday. Not only did we get to see lots of sea mammals, we got to see lots of coast. By-and-large it’s very different from the East Coast.

From Florida to Southern Maine beaches are mainly the extension of a flat coastal plain. Not here. Because the West Coast is on a tectonic subduction zone, many spots have cliffs right down to the water’s edge.

That has led to terracing. Row-upon-row of homes get ocean views because they’re built into hillsides.

If we had snow or got ‘the big one’ this would be a major problem. Right now homeowners try not to think about it and spectacular views win the day.

May Gray, June Gloom

Every area has its own weather quirks. They all follow the laws of physics, often through interaction too complex for humans to fully understand. Take this afternoons clouds.


Even Californians complain about the weather. We should be ashamed of ourselves!

We have one of those potential kvetch times on-the-way. It’s the seasonal California May gray and June gloom. We’ll be waking to cloudy skies for most of the next week. They disappear by noon. This type of weather happens sporadically through summer.

In the case of coastal California, the offshore marine layer is typically propelled inland by a pressure gradient which develops as a result of intense heating inland, blanketing coastal communities in cooler air which, if saturated, also contains fog. The fog lingers until the heat of the sun becomes strong enough to evaporate it, often lasting into the afternoon during the “May gray” or “June gloom” period – Wikipedia

We’re over 10 miles inland. It’s not as bad as for coastal dwellers. Of course, they live on the California Coast. They’d better not complain. Ever. About anything.

This weather scenario wasn’t something we were looking for in Connecticut. Here, it shows up nicely on the forecast models. At the top is a BUFKIT readout from tonight’s 00Z GFS for KSNA, John Wayne Airport in nearby Santa Ana (Clicking the image will give you a much larger, much more readable look).

BUFKIT is an amazing program for visualizing weather data. It was developed at NOAA and is free, as is the data it uses.

With maps you see a large area for one specific time. With BUFKIT you see one specific place over a period of time. Go ahead–reread that.

There’s a lot going on, but what I’m looking at is at the bottom of the image. The lines are isohumes–lines of equal humidity. The cloud producing marine layer isn’t thick. On most days it only goes up 2,000 feet. It produces low, dense overcast. Sometimes there’s drizzle.

The marine layer forms in the evening and fades through the morning.

Every area has its own weather quirks. They all follow the laws of physics, often through interaction too complex for humans to fully understand. Take this afternoons clouds.

Rain Coming And Folks Are Excited


“It will be good for the state.” Those were Helaine’s words a few minutes ago. We were talking about the threat of rain in SoCal. We’ve had hardly any since last year’s rainy season–also a dud.

The image above is a screengrab from the afternoon GFS, using BUFKIT. If you want to know what kind of person I am, I find it fascinating. I like charts, graphs and numbers. They like me back!

I’m not going to be a whiner. Drought sounds and is bad. However, our infrastructure was designed knowing we get droughts. It needs much less than normal rain to work properly. No one is being forced to conserve.

We will finally end the fire season. That will be a relief to many. California has a tendency to burn.

Our first rain comes Wednesday evening. A cold front off a low hitting the California Coast near the Oregon border is the trigger. Not a lot. The GFS says around a quarter inch.

Meteorologists are lucky here. I’ve read and seen all sorts of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF). It’s our least accurate prediction. They’ll all be wrong, but unlike snow, no one will check up on them.

The rain (and snow) should be significantly heavier farther north, including the Sierra Mountains. They are our sponge! Snowfall in the mountains is slowly released through early summer. Much of what would run to the ocean now flows toward the Southland.

Water from the Sierras is California’s lifeline. It’s how we house people and grow crops in the desert! Like so many other spots in America, we have overcome nature to tame a place not naturally suited for any of what now happens on it.

The second wave of rain arrives Friday morning. The GFS shows three inch range, much more than this area can easily perc. Flooded intersections and slow traffic will follow. Thunderstorms, less frequent here than back east, are possible with heavy embedded downpours.

NEXRAD is pretty bad here. Too much topography. There are lots of holes using individual radars. This is one place where composites help.

During these storms our temperature will stay in the 60s.

Friday’s deluge will taper to showers then some scattered drizzle under cloudy skies through Sunday. People here are looking forward to this brief change. I will miss my friend, the blue sky.

Vide-Oh My

The video was put together in a near automated fashion using Apple’s iMovie, a program which only runs on Macs. Today I am jealous!

I saw a the thumbnail for a video posted by a friend of a friend on Facebook. What the heck–click. It’s a church group and a trip they took to Santa Catalina Island off the California coast.

Forget the scenery et al–what blew me away was the presentation. That’s what it is–a sophisticated presentation. It’s certainly more than you’d expect from a home movie. Video pulled out of scrapbook photos. A timeline traced the trip from the Midwest to California on a spinning globe.

The video was put together in a near automated fashion using Apple’s iMovie, a program which only runs on Macs. By specifying a template the program creates the finished product to match the desired look and feel. Can you see my jealousy?

I sent an email to Eric who pushed the buttons to make it happen. All he could do was tell me how easy it was. Eric–that doesn’t make it easier to take.

A Google search for a Windows application that does the same thing pointed to Adobe’s Premier Elements. It was the most often cited response. I’m going to give that a try. Unlike it’s more sophisticated cousins Premier Elements even handles the HD files from my little camcorder natively.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

We’re On The High Seas

Aboard the Norwegian Star

A little recap is in order. We spent last night at the Westin at LAX. We must be getting smarter because we knew to put our bags on the movable rack and then keep them with us in the room.

Today was definitely a day of hurry up and wait. First to LAX where we met up with Norwegian Cruise Line’s ground staff. We waited for the bus to the docks. Once we got there we stood in line to register and stood in line again to go through security.

The company Norwegian hires to do their security at San Pedro is very sneaky. I’m very observent, and it was only luck that let me realize these weren’t TSA screeners!

Their uniforms, methods and equipment and all reminiscent of what you’d see at the airport. I thought it was especially funny that all the old men wearing hats had to remove them, briefly.

We got on the ship and went to our cabin on Deck 11. We’re in a mini suite with a balcony. If you’ve never been on a ship, it is so small you’d wonder how they could call it a suite – even prefaced by mini.

I am typing this while on the balcony. Let me say now, a few hours into the trip, I’m going to love this balcony. I love it already.

Leaving San Pedro aboard the Norwegian SunAs we left the pier in San Pedro, I stood outside and watched. At walking speed, we made a sharp right turn and headed into the channel. The bow thrusters swung the rear left as the hsip pivoted. It was awesome as we slowly picked up speed. The Star moves effortlessly.

The night is cool and the ship is gently rocking. The moon is high in the sky directly to my left as I type. Its reflection is lighting the sea surface. Off in the distance, I still see the lights of the California Coast. The won’t be visible much longer.

This is living.

We have done a few things on the ship. We ate – twice.

Aqua dining room aboard the Norwegian SunFirst we had a ‘snack’ right after coming on board. We’ve just finished dinner in Aqua, a very nice restaurant a few decks down.

Norwegian has what’s called “Free Style” cruising, which means you can eat where and when you want. There are a few restaurants that charge a little extra, but mostly everyhting’s included.

Helaine and Stef also made arrangements for at least one shore excursion. They won’t tell me what it is, but they say my camera will be very happy.

Over the next few days I’ll let you know more about the ship. I really don’t know much yet. It’s large – I can tell you that. It’s full of people of every shape, size, color and age. It is beautifully decorated.

I’ve already registered for a poker tournament in the casino. It’s a $50 + $10 sing table sit and go. I am hoping it is a table full of poker neophytes – not that that guarantees success.