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Generic Santa Barbara Weather
- Cold Air
- The SB range runs east-west so our mountains face south and collect a
lot of sun when it's not blocked by cloud cover. The ocean affects
the low altitude temperature. With a relatively cold ocean and a
warm air mass, it can be inverted. If the air mass is cold and the
ocean is relatively warm (late fall, winter, early spring), then the
lapse rate will be good.
- We want cold air at medium altitude, not on the surface.
- If you have frost in the morning and it's 55°F @ 4 grand before
sunrise, go for a bike ride.
- We're looking for a temperature spread, but in general, with a cold
air mass, there is potential for boundary layer heating.
Check Debbie (805 963-4422) before sunrise. (Debbie isn't always
accurate). Note Debbie was a wind talker on top of the La
Cumbre Peak fire lookout, but has been decommissioned for years as of
- Check the 6K forecasted temperature.
- Check the forecasted surface high temperature.
- You can check the recent temperature history in observations.
- Even without any sun, it's commonly sweet & soarable if Debbie is
- Relative Humidity
- You can get a handle cloud base by comparing the dew point to the
- With stronger spring time heating, it's common for the lapse rate to
be good and the relative humidity to be high. The early lifting
can result in low cloudbase.
- Cloudbase will often raise with increasing temperature during the day.
- If the base wind is from the south, it can stack up against the
mountains and lower cloud base throughout the day. A little north
wind can help sweep out the clouds.
- If the cloud cover is low to the east and starts to clear from the
west in the afternoon, it can be a sign of building NW wind.
- Some north wind (over the back) is good. How much we can
tolerate depends on the lapse rate. It's common to have a wind
that blows 30 OTB at night back down into the teens shortly after
sunrise and block all the way in the heat of the day. Even when
Debbie is reporting 10+ OTB its commonly launchable at the Skyport.
The hang gliders have consistently recorded stellar flights from the
Brotherhood in North Winds up to 30. I've personally flown a
paraglider from NS Brotherhood to Ventura (lighter north wind).
- Check the winds aloft forecast. If it's blowing 75 at 18,000 you
might have a narrow block window, but expect the wind to pull down with
the thermal generated vertical mixing.
- Look at the buoy map in the marine forecast. The wind velocity
is illustrated by the length of the red vectors.
- You can check the observations. It blows from the west early at
the SB airport. Montecito blows offshore below Ramero Saddle.
Cheesboro rips in a Santa Anna.
- A classic Santa Anna high pressure subsidence is centered inland over
the four corners. Santa Barbara usually blocks the NE drainage
well, but it's better to fly from Ojai back to SB if you can get to a
launch. When its blowing 35 across the Oxnard Plain from the NE,
Ojai and Santa Barbara are usually blocked (not in the drain path).
- If strong high pressure is over us, the subsistence can cause it to drain
down hill through Flores Flat stronger than it's blowing over the back on
- Strong high pressure thermals seem to be smaller and broken.
- The thermals seem to be bigger and smoother with low pressure.