Bruce’s Briefs 29, 30 Sept & 1 Oct.

Bruce’s Briefs 29, 30 Sept & 1 Oct.

How propitious that the 2017 NWS Seattle Integrated Weather Team Workshop was yesterday and we got to preview what NWS is thinking about the upcoming winter and how they are going to convey this information. Love to see the Seattle office being a leader in this especially at a time when in spite of an increasingly complex weather scenario, the Trump administration wants to cut the budget of both NOAA and FEMA. As if the recent (and still unfinished) hurricane season hasn’t sent a clear enough message. Kurt is kicking my chair and telling me to get back on the job. (Ed. note: NO, he’s not!)

My, how things have changed over the last couple of weeks. We have gone from an ENSO neutral winter to a distinctly La Niña pattern which is really great news for skiers and the snowpack in the mountains. What is a La Niña pattern? In very simple terms it means that the temperature of the equatorial waters off of South America are significantly lower than normal. See the current SST anomaly chart. In an El Niño event, it’s the opposite, in other words significantly warmer than normal.

Click image to enlarge

So the real question is what does this mean for boaters? As you can see from the NWS Chart of Significant Winter Weather, in La Niña years we have the greatest chance of major wind storms and lowland snow events. If you ever needed an excuse to get your furled sails down and into the sailmaker for an off-season inspection, this should be it. Also, think about getting those winter mooring lines out and figuring out how to add some extra lines. I mentioned lowland snow events because those usually accompany below normal temperatures which means winterizing your boat for below freezing temperatures. Nothing worse than walking down to the boat to find only the bridge above water. Needless to say, we’ll give you a heads-up before any of those.

Right now there is no significant weather on the radar since the front passed through this morning. The rest of the weekend looks like a typically post-frontal situation with the possibility of a Puget Sound convergence zone developing in the northern Sound and over Admiralty inlet Saturday evening.So a bit of a breezy westerly in the eastern Straits that may extend down Admiralty Inlet Saturday afternoon. The Straits could see 15-25 while the north Sound could see 15-20. Sunday will be quieter with light air in the south Sound and a nice westerly/northwesterly in the eastern Straits and north Sound. Since it’s the Pacific Northwest there may be some spotty showers around.

Click images to enlarge

 

The charts for the weekend also provide some interesting reading in that the 500MB charts show the upper-level lows above the jet stream and a strong upper-level high below. The chart for next week (3 Oct) also shows the jet stream coming out of the Canadian Interior and back out to us. If this were later in December or early January this would be the kind of pattern that can bring snow to the Pacific Northwest.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Bruce’s Briefs Sept 23-24, 2017

Bruce’s Briefs Sept 23-24, 2017

Once again nothing too dramatic to report, just another gorgeous Indian Summer weekend. We’ll take it because we all know it can’t last. Since we had some rain earlier as well as snow in the mountains it should be noted that after one of the driest summers on record, we are still over 7” of rain above the average year to date. Plus we don’t have any hurricanes headed our way and no really adverse weather on the horizon for at least the next 10 days. Now if only we could do something about the traffic….

When you look at the surface charts you will quickly see the reason for our great weather, that 1031MB high-pressure system right off our coast and it’s not going anywhere in any great hurry. As you check the upper air (500MB) charts, the jet stream is staying north and keeping the storms well away from us.

Once again it will be a great weekend for powerboaters and not so good for sailors. Generally speaking light air over the entire Pacific Northwest. Maybe some clouds in the morning but those will clear and we can expect highs to be in the mid to upper 60’s. With the clear skies it will be a little coolish at night but all in all, not a bad weekend to be on the water.

Enjoy the weekend!

Bruce’s Brief for September 15-16

Bruce’s Brief for September 15-16

It certainly appears that this will be the last great weekend of the summer so you better get out and enjoy it! And at least we don’t live in Florida or Texas. Plus, don’t forget that we are no where near done with hurricane season. Two active in the Pacific and potentially three in the Atlantic. What will be really interesting will be the beach erosion caused by Jose on the northern part of the Eastern Seaboard especially Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

For the Pacific Northwest the question will be if it’s going to rain on the Seahawks home opener on Sunday and if so when. Right now it looks like the pre-frontal wind will start early Sunday morning with the rain starting about noon and continuing until the game ends. Take your foulies.

For boaters there simply won’t be much wind on Saturday so go ahead and power south. That way on Sunday when the breeze fills in from the south-southeast you’ll have a downwind sail back to Seattle.

Also, if you’re a sailor it’s time to think about getting those cruising sails scheduled for maintenance this winter and getting your dock buddies organized to help you get the furling jib down and folded in advance of the first big blow of the winter.

Enjoy the weekend.

 

Bruce’s Weather Brief 8-10 September

At this point, all eyes are on Florida as we watch Irma move inexorably closer, currently projected to make landfall in the Upper Keys. 130 to 150mph winds and a 6’-10’ storm surge are going to absolutely devastate southern Florida. As I said a couple of weeks ago, this is a very interesting time of the year and when you can get three hurricanes (a Cat 5, a Cat 4 and a Cat2) in the Atlantic with the possibility of a fourth forming off of the Cape Verde Islands all at the same time, this can and should get your attention.

Our weather, on the other hand, is very benign with the possibility of a weak front coming ashore tomorrow. We finally have an onshore flow which should help clean-up the air and move the smoke to Eastern Washington. Unfortunately, there isn’t much moisture associated with the front so that isn’t going to help the fire situation.

For boaters, this will mean small craft advisories in the eastern Straits of JdF (Juan de Fuca) for westerlies tonight and then become a southeasterly on Saturday as the front approaches. For the most part, the winds will be less than 15 knots all weekend over the inland waters. The other interesting feature to note is the jet stream in the 500MB charts as it is now tending to move south. As it does this will allow more fronts into the Pacific Northwest. It’s been a great summer, however, I think we can agree that it’s time for some rain.

Have a great weekend!

Bruce’s Labor Day Weekend Weather Brief

Bruce’s Labor Day Weekend Weather Brief

Well, the folks in Texas and Louisiana have certainly had enough weather probably for a lifetime. The bad news is that the European weather models are showing another 2-4″ of rain coming down Tuesday and Wednesday and then by the end of the week there’s the possibility of Hurricane Irma making a US landfall in the Gulf. YIKES! On top of that, the current administration Is going to cut funding to NOAA and FEMA while wiping out any mention of climate change. How is it we are getting 100 year, 200 year, 500 year and 800 year floods and storms every year now? Kurt is telling me to get back to weather in the Pacific NW now and save the politics for a happy hour discussion.

Click to enlarge:

 

The important part of this chart are the red and blue numbers above and below the wind direction arrows at each of the stations. Red is the current temp and blue is the dew point, when they are the same you get fog. Note the entrance to the Straits, Sheringham and Hein Bank. Click to enlarge.

In short, we are going to have a truly spectacular weekend with no rain on the horizon anywhere in the near future. For boaters this will be great except for the possibility of fog in the mornings. I’ve added the Western Washington Surface Conditions Chart so that you can do your own predictions for fog. I can tell you from personal experience that there was plenty of fog in Admiralty Inlet and the eastern end of the Straits this morning. No reason to go anywhere so why not soak the crab pots? We were rewarded with four gorgeous Dungeness. I digress. The red number above the wind arrow is the current temp while the blue number below the arrow is the dew point, the temp at which fog will form. The closer they are, the more likely you are to get fog.

As you can see from the surface charts, our weather is being dominated by a relatively weak ridge of high pressure extending from Hawaii to directly over us. In addition, there is second weak high pressure system directly east of us that will be bringing up warm air from a thermal low over the Central Valley of California. This will result in record temperatures for our area over the next 4-5 days. Great if you’re a boater, not so good if you’re thinking about camping. The other feature that will be present is a consistent offshore flow which will cause down slope compressional heating of the air mass. This also means there will be little wind coming down the Straits from the Pacific to cool us off and no small craft advisories in the eastern Straits.

Then if you check the upper air charts (500MB) there is no jet stream activity to move any of those low pressure systems you see out in the mid-Pacific towards us. If you like hot and dry, you’re going to love the next couple of weeks. If you’re a fire-fighter, not so much.

Be safe, have a great weekend.

 

Bruce’s Brief’s for Aug 18 – 21 and the Northern Century Race

Bruce’s Brief’s for Aug 18 – 21  and the Northern Century Race

It’s getting to my favorite time of the year where the global weather picture starts getting really active especially in the zones where hurricanes start forming. Luckily, we don’t really have to worry about those up here. Instead, we just want to know what sort of weather we’ll have for the weekend (great) and if there’s going to be any rain (no). Then for the sailors who are racing starting tonight out of Anacortes on the Northern Century Race, they want to know if there will be wind (yes and no) or will a century be the amount of time needed to finish the race? Kidding!

As you can see from the surface charts we will have some nice weather for the weekend and for the eclipse on Monday. Just make sure you wear plenty of sunblock (always) and that you’ve got the right glasses or viewing equipment for you, your phone and your camera. And no, two pairs of sunglasses stacked on top of one another won’t cut it and the eclipse can do permanent damage to your retina and your cameras, so it’s no joke.

For boaters, the usual places will have plenty of wind. The eastern end of the Straits and the southern end of the Strait of Georgia. Gale warnings tonight in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and a Small Craft Advisory for the southern part of the Strait of Georgia from 2100 hours tonight until 1000 hours Saturday morning. Rig your jack lines before you leave the dock and get everyone into foulies and safety gear as the sun goes down. Make sure whoever is navigating knows precisely where you are when the sun goes down so there’s no confusion about the range and bearing to the mark and what the hazards are around you. It’s after you get south of Patos on the reach, beat, reach to Hein Bank that the wind will really begin to drop off and will pretty much stay that way until late Saturday afternoon in the San Juan Islands.

As usual, the tides will play a role in this race, with the strongest being Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Remember also that the tides in Cattle Pass at the South end of San Juan Channel are double the velocities shown below.

Rosario Straits:

18 Aug

1930                        .91 Ebb

2254                        Slack

19 Aug

0018                        .55 Flood

0206                        Slack

0712                        2.8 Ebb

1118                        Slack

1400                        1.89 Flood

1800                        Slack

Haro Straits, Turn Point Boundary Pass

19 Aug

0121                        .37 Flood

0348                        Slack

0714                        2.18 Ebb

1102                        Slack

1433                        1.13 Flood

1824                        Slack

 

The general rule of thumb for the Northern Century is the sail the shortest possible course from the start to Pt. Roberts, which means leaving Guemes to port even though you might have the ebb with you out to Rosario Straits. The problem is that you will fight a stronger ebb than if you went closer to Lummi Island.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

By the time you get to Pt Roberts the breeze should be on and you should have an exciting close to beam reach back to the green buoy at the east end of Cabbage Island just north of Saturna. In the past, if you’re feeling lucky, you might try to cut the corner and aim towards San Juan Channel. The problem this year will be that this is where the breeze will die first and if you can’t make it out of Cattle Pass by 0900 hours Saturday morning, you could be anchored for about six hours because you can expect the wind to be light and variable from 0700 Saturday morning until it finally fills back down the Straits around 1500-1600 hours. To stay in the breeze you will probably be better off to sail outside of Stuart Island and go around Turn Point. The other problem is that if you go outside of Stuart the wind in Haro Straits will be light and from the south, southeast until you get south of Andrews Bay on San Juan Island where it finally clocks around to the west-southwest. At least there will be wind and less tide than if you tried to go the inside route.

Running the High-Resolution GRIBS with the polars that I have, I have Rage, Hamachi and LawnDart able to make that gate but just barely. Do you feel lucky?

From Hein Bank to the finish it will be a pretty straight forward run.

All in all, a very challenging race on some of the most beautiful water there is in the world.

Be safe, have a great time.

 

Bruce’s Weather Brief for August 12-13 Rain and Lightning Coming

Bruce’s Weather Brief for August 12-13 Rain and Lightning Coming

Finally, our weather is definitely changing and going back to more normal conditions. We can say goodbye to the above normal temps, goodbye to the smoke and put the welcome mat out for some rain which will end our record dry spell. All good, well almost all good. There will be some problems associated with these changes, not really much for boaters but if you’re staying at home you should be aware. The first problem that occurs after such a long dry spell is that roads have now picked up a significant coating of oil and other petroleum products which when the rain comes will make them very slick. The second problem is the dust and other gunk that has accumulated on transformers and power poles can become conductive with rain causing power outages and even fires resulting from the short circuits. Perhaps the most significant problem will be the lightning that will be coming in with this trough of low pressure. There simply isn’t enough going to be enough rain to put out the fires that may be started by the lightning.

For boaters, we’ve already got southerlies over the inland waters and those will continue over the weekend until the post frontal northerly makes its way down the Sound on Sunday afternoon. Per usual the most wind will be in the central and eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with gale warnings up for tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Still, no major reason to stay home. Summer is fading rapidly so why not get out and enjoy our waters. I have it from a very reliable source that the areas where it is legal to crab are producing some excellent catches.

Have a great weekend.

Bruce’s Brief August 5-6

Bruce’s Brief August 5-6

We’ve all probably had enough weather this week with record high temperatures and all that smoke coming down from the wild fires in BC. Not much is going to change over the weekend as this thermally induced trough will remain over the Pacific NW for most of this weekend with the possibility of a weak onshore flow developing late tomorrow and continuing into early next week. Then by the end of next week we can expect more high temps as a weak high pressure system will be pushed into eastern BC and eastern Washington by a weak low pressure system. The folks returning from TransPac will continue to be frustrated by a weaker than normal Pacific High that simply is not getting any stronger or more stable.

In summary, it’s going to stay smokey over the Pacific NW with not much wind. The good news is that it’s going to be much cooler out on the water so why not head out and enjoy it. Lake Washington will be busy with SeaFair and plenty of emphasis patrols to make sure no one is having too much fun out there, BUI is no joke so be a smart boater.

Enjoy the weekend!

Bruce’s Weather Brief, July 22-23

Bruce’s Weather Brief, July 22-23

Bruce is back! With forecasts! Now let’s get out there and cruise.

TransPac was great but nothing beats the Pacific Northwest in the summer when the weather is perfect here while the rest of the country is baking and getting overly soaked. Not much on tap around here in terms of weather to watch except the usual summertime suspects: the wind against the ebb tide going over the bars along the coast and the afternoons in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as the westerly fills down especially in the central to eastern part of the Strait.

What is strange is that weak group of low-pressure systems centered off of the Queen Charlottes. These are supported by a cut-off upper-level low that you see on today’s 500MB chart. This combination has the overall effect of keeping the Pacific High weak and unstable. This is actually good news as this will have the effect of keeping our temperatures from getting too warm. The other good news is that not much is going to change going forward. Overall, that means do more boating, get out and enjoy our incredible area.

Triumph finishes Transpac

Triumph finishes Transpac

The Santa Cruz 52 Triumph, with Bruce and Gregg Hedrick aboard, finished their Transpac last night and are presumed safely docked and mai taied. Congratulations all. Raisin’ Cane and Kinetic V finished last night as well, and BlueFlash is closing in on the finish line fast. Merlin, with Carl Buchan aboard, finished in the wee hours Friday morning to finish second over the line in class and third in class on corrected time. I’ll try to get more details on each of the stories. Results here.

In the meantime, here’s the last report from Bruce Hedrick, filed just before the finish. It’s a fun insight to life onboard and a well-run program.

TransPac Update 15 July 2017

What a long strange race it’s been. Sorry I wasn’t able to get more info out to you however we’ve been working really hard to keep the boat moving in difficult conditions. Even though records were set by the big boats, we’ve spent a lot of time sailing in 9-13 knots even on this final approach to the Islands when we should be sailing with our full sized, heavy kite in 20 to 25 knots of trade winds. Instead we are just comfortably cruising along making about 8-9 knots in 14 knots of breeze.

We had a great first half of the race and it seems like after we had hit something large and soft, we lost our boat speed edge. Even though we could see nothing on our keel or rudder, we also couldn’t see the full length of either one of them. After three days of the slows we finally bit the bullet, dropped the spinnaker and did a complete back down. We never saw anything come off the bottom but we definitely got our speed back and went from 30 miles behind the other SC-52s to within 3 miles of them last night. At sunset we started aggressively gybing on the shifts to try and get past them and actually ended up losing time, go figure. So now we are just keeping the pedal down and are once again sailing up to them. We have about 100 miles to go so it will be interesting.

Our crew has been great and we have had a great time. Our skipper, Steve Sellinger, did an outstanding job of putting a diverse group together and getting them to function as a team. There is no question that any of us would happily sail on Triumph with Steve again, any time, any place. Our boat captain is Gregg Hedrick who did a superb job putting the boat together and getting us ready for this long trip. We have not had one single failure of any piece of equipment or any of the many complex systems aboard. A true testament to his skills and abilities.

We have two watch captains, Scott Mason and Scott Poe, who bring a wealth of knowledge to the table along with an incredible amount sailing skills and abilities. They know instinctively the right thing to do at the absolutely the right time. We also have the considerable fortune to have Bruce Cooper aboard, our sailmaker and living, breathing human crossover chart who knows, without looking, exactly what sail we should have up and where we should be sailing it.

The person you would race anywhere with is Grant Wooden because he is constantly trying  to figure out how to make the boat go faster by always trimming and re-trimming to get the very most out of you and the boat. The most dangerous job on the boat is running the foredeck which entails never ending trips to frontier land (the bow) to get the sails up and down as well as get the spinnakers through that complex series of maneuvers we call gybing which involves coordinating the entire crew. We are so fortunate to have Zack Hannah in charge of all of that; he is just amazing as well as totally fearless. Regardless of the task, time of day or night, even if he just came off watch, he always answers the call with a smile on his face.  A truly outstanding group!

So what worked for us on this 10 day trip? Besides everything, there are notable standouts. Top of the list was the food, and it was incredible. There was none of that freeze-dried junk. Instead we had real food that had been completely prepared, vacuum packed and then deep frozen. All you had to do then was take the breakfast for the next morning out the night before or take dinner out in the morning. Once it was thawed you simply placed the plastic bag in the boiling water of the pressure cooker, let the pressure come up to about 4psi, and your meal was ready! The meals were planned to meet the expected conditions so for the first night, which is traditionally rough, we had easy to eat chicken and rice or bean and cheese burritos. Other dinners included carne asada, pork roast and veggies, pappardelle, sabatinos sausage spaghetti, turkey meatloaf, and for our last supper we’re having barbeque chicken with Trader Joe’s cabbage salad. Not a marginal meal in the bunch. We do have five days of backup freeze-dried meals however things would have to get pretty desperate before we went to those.

Lunch and breakfast were less organized because of the watch system however as the days go on and the days get warmer you generally transition from three meals to two meals and more snacks. Even todays snacks included carrots, celery, apples, oranges, beef jerky, and Kind bars. We’ve all lost some weight but not for lack of food.

A very cool addition to the boat was a coffee grinder mounted in the cockpit which allowed one person to sit on a Home Depot bucket with a boat cushion and easily trim the kite with the option to going to three speeds if needed. So much easier than trying to sit on a winch island and grind a top action winch.

Bruce Cooper, our sailmaker from Ullman Sails, also introduced us to the latest and greatest when it came to aids in the nighttime trimming of spinnakers. For years we’ve used contrasting strips of cloth in a chevron shape along the luff. We got these new luminescent strips which glowed in the dark and were easily seen from the cockpit. They got a little fainter towards dawn but then recharged themselves when the sun came up. He also small strips of the same tape you could place on the sheet so you could easily return to the same fast setting.

Lastly, my Don Leighton autographed sailing gloves were worth every cent. Every time you touched the wheel with them the boat went almost a knot faster. If you reached over the side and touched the water, seas were instantly calmed. Amazing.

Overall, the thing to remember is that when you can sail across the pond with such a great group on such a well prepared vessel, it is an experience like no other and you should never miss an opportunity to do so. Again, I apologize for not getting more of these out to you. Needless to say, if you’re going to be around TransPac Row in the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor tonight around 2300 hours, come on by and say hello.