Looking at the latest computer models or satellite images, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t all that long ago when everybody relied on strange natural events or the Farmers’ Almanac for long-range weather forecasts.
The Farmers’ Almanac claims that its long-time weather forecaster, “Caleb Weatherbee” (a pseudonym analogous to Punxsutawney Phil), can predict weather 16 months in advance for seven different U.S. climate zones.
According to the Farmers’ Almanac Web site, Weatherbee utilizes a “top secret mathematical and astronomical formula that relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and many other factors.”
The formula is locked up in a black box, much like the secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Quoting the Web site, “Since 1818, this carefully guarded formula has been passed along from calculator to calculator and has never been revealed.”
Many meteorologists are skeptical, but the almanac sells nearly 4 million copies per year, and does have a large climate database, so it can be a great tool in knowing when to plant your garden.
Long-range weather forecasts based on natural events are downright fascinating.
For instance, several readers have commented on the early migrations of tarantula spiders in the North County, which may mean a wet winter.
Other cold winter indicators are pigs gathering sticks and heavier coats of fur on animals.
A caller to a local radio show commented on patterns in persimmon seeds.
According to folklore, you can tell what the winter will be like by cutting a persimmon seed open.
If the shape inside the seed is that of a spoon, it is said to mean it will be a wet winter.
The spoon represents lots of shoveling. If it looks like a knife, it is supposed to mean the winter will be cutting cold, hence the knife shape.
The appearance of a fork shape is believed to mean that winter will be dry.
Local fisherman Jim Nailen of Los Osos said, “This is the best albacore tuna fishing season since 2005.”
The 2006 rain season (July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006) produced 23.5 inches at the Diablo Canyon Ocean Lab, the last season we had a normal rainfall.
If we look to natural indicators to determine what the atmosphere will bring us this upcoming rain season, it would appear that drought conditions are drying up and wetter weather may be on the way.
This week’s forecast
A strong high-pressure ridge in the upper-atmosphere produced very hot temperatures in the interior Saturday.
The air temperature at the Paso Robles Municipal Airport reached 107 degrees in the afternoon, which broke the old record high for the day of 105 degrees.
A shallow (400-foot) but very strong temperature inversion layer will produce areas of dense fog along the shoreline this morning.
Otherwise, today will begin with warm temperatures through the early afternoon hours then the northwesterly (onshore) winds will cool the coastal valleys but the interior will remain hot.
Today’s high temperatures will hit the low to mid-100s in the interior.
The coastal valleys will mostly be in the low to mid-80s, while our shoreline will range from the low to mid-60s along the northwesterly facing (Los Osos) beaches to the high 70s along our southerly facing (Avila Beach) beaches this afternoon.
A major change in the weather pattern will develop Monday as a Gulf of Alaska low pressure system and its associated cold front approaches the state.
This system will give widespread coastal low clouds and fog along with cooler temperatures Monday.
The cold front is forecast to pass Monday night, followed by strong to gale force (25 to 38 mph) northwesterly (onshore) winds and even cooler temperatures Tuesday.
Paso Robles will only reach the high 70s and San Luis Obispo the high 60s.
The cool and windy weather will continue through Wednesday.
The Eastern Pacific high will move toward California late Wednesday and will produce gentle northeasterly (offshore) winds on Thursday.
These offshore winds will drive the marine layer far out to sea and produce warm and spectacular fall weather.
Another low pressure trough will swing through Northern California next weekend, with the return of increasing northwesterly winds and cooler temperatures.
Today’s 4-to 6-foot northwesterly (290-degree deep-water)swell (with a 15-to 17-second period) will continue at this height but with a shorter period through Monday.
Strong to gale force (25 to 38 mph) northwesterly postfrontal winds along our coastline on Tuesday will generate a 5-to 7-foot northwesterly (310-degree deep-water) sea and swell (with a 4-to 11-second period), increasing to 7-to 9-feet with the same period Wednesday.
A 5-to 7-foot northwesterly (290-degree deep-water) swell (with an 8- to 11-second period) is forecast along our coastline on Thursday through Saturday.
Arriving from the southern hemisphere:
A 1-to 2-foot southern hemisphere (200-degree deep-water) swell (with a 20- to 22-second period) will arrive along our coastline on Saturday, increasing to 1-to 3-feet (with an 18-to 20-second period next Sunday.
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John Lindsey is a media relations and nuclear communications representative for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.