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Thursday, 10/14/2021 [Weather] and [Flight Articles] by [pending??] & [Sundowner]
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Weather Archive and Summary for Thursday, 10/14/2021
Chiefs in Ojai
see also [Flight Articles]

Despite the early warning on Tuesday that Thursday looked promising, I was late to address logistics and ended up in scramble mode. Forgot to order a permit and didn't have a truck or crew lined up. When Fast Eddy filled in the crew blank I opted to pull the trigger and reserved a U-Haul pickup, which initially seemed a bit out of the box, but at $20 for the day plus 79 cents per mile, the math worked out.  Still needed a permit, but it was mid-week so permits would likely be available?  After Lucas Longo volunteered his truck I canceled the U-haul reservation.  We had more pilots show up at Nordhoff than expected, but fortunately one of the pilots, Chris Turek, had sweet robust ride that could fit 2 in the front, squeeze 4 in the back seat, and the other 4 plus gear in the bed with arguably room for one more.  Had to do a little road clearing in a couple places on the way up to move boulders and a dead tree that had fallen across the road [photos]. 10 of us (including Eddy) arrived at Chiefs launch at 11:30.  Tim Gibson had hiked up from Rose Valley the day prior but was able to catch a ride on Thursday all the way. Rather than walking around to Chiefs he opted to use the higher slide launch just west of Chiefs Peak.  At least one other pilot (name unknown?) had hiked up to somewhere near Twin Peaks from the south side, so we had at least 11 pilots airborne. Everyone got up and on course.

The developing Santa Anna event was a little late to arrive. The observations indicate the day did not heat up as much as expected?  The lapse rate and altitude were good enough.  The wind was light and variable depending on the draw, mostly from the SW down lower with some flow from the NE up higher.  The east seemed to be pushing west late in the day up higher but it was light onshore from the SW down low along the coast.

Most of the pilots opted for an XC flight to Nordhoff HS with a couple pilots experimenting with various LZs around town.  A couple pilots went to the Topa Bluffs for a little more altitude. Abhi Sarkar reported 7300 over the Bluffs for the best altitude of the day?  Several pilots crossed Hwy 33 westbound including Blake Rankin and Abhi.  Abhi came in to Bump One behind the middle ridge and encountered a scary spanking that resulted in a broken stabilo line followed by a side hill landing.  He hiked out and all was OK.  Recommend reviewing the Ayvir tracks to compare Abhi's deeper route through the heart of the venturi funnel compared to the other tracks that stayed out front along the "middle ridge".  The altitude going westbound over Casitas Pass was marginal but enough.  Blake and SD got into the mid 5s at Nordhoff Peak, then it was high 4s to low 5s over the Pass. Ojai might have worked late in the day, but it was shutting off by 3 PM along Castle Ridge and Ramero. The ridgeline wind at La Cumbre Peak shows light east flow finally pushing through (switching from SW to SE

Not much wind turbulence, but the high pressure mid-day thermals had some punchy some sharp edges. Multiple pilots reported significant collapse events, but our team also had a number of green rookie pilots.  Personally, I didn't like the sharp punch so I was on my toes mid-day to actively avoid excessive gyrations but was still able to spoon in close when needed and keep my canopy open all day.  I didn't have any significant collapses.  It did finally mellow out later in the day and landing on the grass above the beach was light and butter smooth.


Preflight Perceptions:

Posted to the SCPA Flight Discussion at:

Thursday Morning Comments:

There are 3 typical scenarios where we are motivated to expend more effort to launch from Ojai compared to Santa Barbara.
1) A better lapse rate yielding bigger thermals and usually higher altitude.
2) Less wind / more sheltered
3) East wind / to fly downwind westbound toward Santa Barbara
Sometimes there is a mix, but often if it is just for the better lapse rate it is more cost effective to launch in Santa Barbara and fly to Ojai.

Today (Thursday) the Santa Anna event is slow to start.  The east wind is mild and is currently more north than east in Ojai, and it is NW in SB (but should block and pull in later this morning) Ojai often offers more protection from a NW wind, but the main motivation for Ojai today is the better lapse rate.  You might be able to get to Ojai from SB, but Ojai is more of a sure thing.  I'm making an effort to launch from Ojai today.

Friday and Saturday the main and compelling motivation to start from Ojai is the stronger east wind so there is better potential for flying westbound without much ability to go east. Friday and Saturday might be better XC days for advanced pilots, offering both a better lapse rate and a more tailwind (but lower max altitude?), but the wind will make the air more challenging, so for the newer pilots and old guys like myself who are no longer in search of world records, today, Thursday, looks like better quality flying?

Wednesday Afternoon Update:

Yesterday (Tuesday), the wind was lighter than expected.  The mountains might have been launchable from the lower launches in the afternoon?  Bates was likely working mid-day, but it was mostly from the SE which died in the afternoon.  The forecasted west wind never did push through in Carpinteria.

Today (Wednesday), the lapse rate was weak, and the wind was light, mostly from the SE in the lower single digits.  A few pilots went to the mountains but didn’t hear any reports.  Carpinteria had an occasional thermal stir but was mostly light to calm so I don't think Bates was working?

Thursday (tomorrow), a Santa Anna event starts to stir.  The local lapse rate (SB) is better than today.  The Ojai lapse rate looks significantly better than Santa Barbara with top of the lift in the upper 5s early, rising to the mid-7s in the afternoon.  The wind in Ojai is mid-single digits all day, increasing with altitude.  Santa Barbara starts out with flow from the east, but it pulls in from the west in the afternoon.  Might be a good day for an out and back from Ojai?

Friday, the east is more substantial, so more tailwind going westbound, but max altitude in Ojai is not as high as Thursday, so Thursday might be an easier day?  Some models are calling for Friday to be the peak of the offshore flow.

Saturday, the east wind continues, and is east all day at altitude in both Ojai and Santa Barbara.

Recommend Ojai all 3 days (Thursday – Saturday). SB looks ok on Thursday with a later switch to onshore on Friday. By Saturday it is east all day in Santa Barbara. Friday has a better tailwind (going westbound), but I think the flying will be easier on Thursday due to less wind which could equate to less turb and higher max altitude on Thursday? I think we can likely launch from Chiefs on Thursday, but pilots may be better off launching from Nordhoff on Friday and Saturday…

Tuesday Morning (10/12) Perception:

Today (Tuesday) the north wind has backed down some from yesterday’s hard afternoon and evening blow, but there is still some lingering north wind to contend with, with more wind to the west and better protection to the east (Ojai).  There is a sharp and strong capping inversion between 6 and 10K.  The lapse rate is ballistic up to the bottom of the inversion where it is forecasted to be blowing about 20 knots.  There is less wind down lower, but likely more than preferable in the local Santa Barbara mountains for most PG pilots.  Looks like a fun day for HGs launching from the Brotherhood?

Ojai offers more protection from the wind.  Chiefs might block today, but not confident.  The repeater has launches facing North, NW, SW, and South and favors a NW.  Today looks like NNW.  When it blows north it is usually NE on launch at the Repeater because the gap is to the west.  The Repeater is a drive-up launch with a big gap to the west, suitable for advanced P2s with supervision or P3 pilots.  The launch is easy but the long dirt road requires a robust vehicle and a permit to get through the locked gate.

Bates looks promising this afternoon (based on Windy.com).  The wind builds but also gets more cross from the west with velocity later in the day.  The direction is better before the velocity builds strong, so timing will likely be important.  Windy seems to suggest somewhere between 1 and 2 PM?  Note that Bates can be fickle and Windy is not a precise science.

Today (Tuesday) is the last day this week that the coastal cliffs look promising.  The building high pressure offshore gradients keep the wind away from the beaches later this week.

Wednesday (tomorrow), is the start of a slow warming trend with building high pressure trending toward a Santa Anna event later in the work week.  The wind backs way down, but so does the stellar lapse rate.  The weaker lapse rate still looks positive, so it could be a marginal balance to see if the weaker thermals can stay together in the light afternoon SW flow down low. Should be a good day for P2 pilots.

Ojai looks a little better than SB on Wednesday, but likely not enough to justify the elevated cost of getting to a launch?

Thursday, the Santa Anna event is gaining strength. Ojai looks like the better call, but Santa Barbara typically offers nice flying in mild Santa Anna conditions with potential convergence over the high ridge (La Cumbre Peak).  The lapse rate improves slightly over Wednesday in SB and the upper flow builds from the NE through the end of the week.

The last couple of Santa Anna events have been the SE variety. This event is more of a NE variety, which is often preferable for a number of reasons, but if going to Ojai plan to launch early from Nordhoff Peak (rather than Chiefs).  The lapse rate in Ojai looks robust on Thursday.  Thursday has a mild capping inversion that rises through the day.  Top of the lift in Ojai looks like the high 5s early, rising to the mid 7s in the afternoon.

The flow starts out from the NE but clocks around to draw in from the SW later in the day.  The east is more persistent in Ojai.  Late in the day expect SW upriver flow down low but ENE flow up higher.  The afternoon upriver flow progressively pulls up the Santa Clara river to somewhere around Fillmore or Piru.

Friday is a continued progression from Thursday. The east is stronger and more dominant.  There is continued warming but more so up higher so a weaker lapse rate than Thursday.  Both Santa Barbara and Ojai look promising.  SB will likely have flow from the east early, but the SW pulls in light in the afternoon.  The offshore NE flow is more persistent to the east.  Down low the offshore drainage down the Santa Clara River eventually backs off somewhere around Santa Paula later in the afternoon, but up higher the east is dominate.  Don’t recommend venturing out into the Santa Clara River on Friday.

If you are a visiting PG pilot, I’d recommend flying Bates today, then Santa Barbara tomorrow, and Ojai on Thursday and Friday (but SB should also be fun on Thursday and Friday).  If you are a local looking to budget a single day this work-week, then I’d recommend Ojai on Thursday.  If you are an HG pilot, I’d recommend the Brotherhood today.  If you want to fly the cliffs, then this afternoon is likely the best opportunity.  Bates to Ventura might be possible…


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