Our unusual weather: Climate change, or just random?
If you live in California you’re wondering the same thing as everybody else: What the heck is up with this weather?
We all know that last year, 2010, was the Year Without Summer. Now, 2011 is shaping up to be a repeat. In fact, the West Coast is now in the seventh year of a below-normal temperature pattern.
Here are selected notes from my 2011 Vintage Diary:
December was very, very cold, as were the first 2 weeks or so of January. The we had three weeks of gloriously warm, record-setting dry weather. February turned cooler, but not cold, with average rainfall. Now March continues the mild temperatures, but it has been very rainy.
The last several weeks have been gloomy as hell. Lots of cool, cloudy days.
There was extensive frost damage last month.
I was in Paso Robles yerterday and was told of crop losses there from the April 8-9 freeze approaching 50% appellation-wide.
Very cold and windy today. Widely scattered showers since last night, some of them heavy.
“This will not be light.” My friend Steve Paulsen [meteorologist, Channel 2], predicting the storm blowing in today.
Monday, May 23
Continues very chilly with temps well below normal, and now–more rain 2 days from now.
Wed. May 25
Rain in the North Bay. More rain predicted for Friday. [later] Steady light to moderate rain in Oakland. Wine country must be getting drenched. Very cold, temps 15-20 degrees below normal. Cloudy. Widespread scattered showers. From Natl. Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, the 10 day forecast: “THE TROUGH FORECAST OVER THE WESTERN CONUS [continental U.S.] IS EXPECTED TO LEAD TO ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR ABOVE MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR PARTS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST [and] NORTHERN CALIFORNIA” with below normal temperatures.
Sat. May 28
Chilly, very windy and showery. Storms to the north.
Evening: Steady rain.
Tues. May 31
Rain today throughout North coast. Half inch already has fallen. Temps 10-15 degrees below average esp. inland. “By Friday night another system. This one will be stronger, maybe widespread rain as we approach the weekend.” Steve Paulsen.
And now, this morning, the new ten day forecast calls for thundershowers this Saturday and more showers for Sunday, with temperatures next week continuing well below normal–more like January than June.
How all this is impacting the grapes, I don’t know. Some say that because Spring was so cool, budbreak was late, lessening the rain’s impact. But the threat of grapevine diseases has to be making some growers antsy. I suspect they’re breaking out the sulfur up and down the State. I wonder how long it’s going to be before the meteorological community declares that the West Coast of the United States is entering a Little Ice Age.