Uburoi Asked: Hey Adam, I noticed the winds have been coming up pretty early – around 9 or so in the North OC area. Is this just typical spring-type conditions (not staying glassy for very long) or is it the heat in the inland and the sea breeze trying to cool it off? Do you expect the same for Saturday?
Adam Wright – Solspot Forecaster:
Yeah, unfortunately that is pretty typical of North OC. About the only thing that counters those early winds is a well established Santa Ana pattern…otherwise the wind directions around Seal Beach, HB, Newport, can be a bit fluky, particularly as we move into the spring/summer.
There are actually two problems…one is that the North OC has no coastal hills or true cliffs (the 30’ HB Cliffs don’t really count) to shelter us from the winds, so things can turn ugly pretty quick. Like you said, all it takes is something as simple as hot temperatures inland, (which causes the air along the surface to lift up and create a vacuum of low-pressure sometimes called a “thermal low”), that bends in the cooler ocean sea-breeze (like you described) to fill in the space left by the warmer air moving aloft.
Areas with high cliffs, like those in South OC, or San Diego, or coastal hills like Santa Barbara and North LA, will still blow out when it gets warm enough inland, but it generally takes longer and recovers faster once those winds stop.
The other sort of funky issue with North OC is the Palos Verdes headlands. It actually creates a bit of a micro-eddy for HB/Newport.(compared to the much larger set up by Point Conception for all of Socal). PV sort of acts like a rock in the middle of a stream, but with winds flowing around on both sides. As winds pick up out of the N (really anywhere from the NNW to the NNE) they have the tendency to swirl around PV and hook back from the ocean, basically creating a little pocket of onshore flow for the region while if you headed down to Laguna/San Clemente it would still be clean/glassy, even offshore if the winds were strong enough.
As for it happening on Saturday, right now it looks like the winds will stay down through at least 9-10am with onshore flow creeping in between 10-11am.Tags: North Orange County, Ocean Science 101, sea-breeze, Solspot Q and A, winds