Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The weather window

(Note: I started this blog entry nearly two months ago. One thing that makes it ok that I waited to actually finish it, is that well, what I was trying to say is pretty much true for me.)

As I approach two decades of living in the Bay Area, I've seen enough of the change of the seasons to have a working, rough idea of what each season means, and sort of when to expect it to arrive. The transition from summer to fall to winter here is nothing like what I knew back east, and there can be years when you never know if is truly fall or if the fall season happened overnight, and within less than 24 hours summer has morphed into winter. Winter living within the California version of a Mediterranean climate of course means not drastically colder temperatures but still colder temps. More obviously though, there is a greater possibility of rain. Rain is something a Bay Area local just does not think about from sometime in May until sometime late in October. After October of course, rain could show up any time, any day.

Each October I find I need to reacquaint myself with the online sources of weather knowledge. This year, that need came earlier than I anticipated and only partway through October I found forecast rain threatening a long planned bike ride. My adaptation? Fit the rides in where I can. As a result, I've taken to planning more lunch time rides in anticipation of a too wet weekend. Several SF Randonneurs from my club work nearby so I can find riding partners at least half the time when I leave work behind for a slightly longer than one hour trip physically no more than eight miles away, but mentally many leagues away.

In the image above, you can see the Percent Chance of Precipitation spike in the afternoon on that Thursday. On that ride that day I could see the weather changing to the west over the Pacific, and I did manage to get home before the rain began. The lunch time route is barely more than 15 miles, but does include some nice climbing on relatively quiet roads, once it clears the more inhabited areas. Emeryville, where I work is something less than 100' above sea level (probably much closer to 1' than to 100' above sea level). The ride takes me and my companions to roughly 1200'. In October, the more exposed sections of the climb are often hot. Now, in December, those same areas are always chilly. Once the main climbing is over, there is a short run along the ridge line and then a E-Ticket ride down Claremont back to reality. In late November, we had an early cold snap and that descent was often wicked cold. Regular rain now falls and we are more than willing to accept cold instead of rain on the rides.

Now it is late December with a long spell of forecast and actual rain just beginning. I'm still looking for the gaps in the weather, and with luck, another Thursday escape from work at lunch time will have to tide me over for what is expected to be a wet holiday weekend.

Stay dry friends!

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