The GFS and ECMWF have been showing a strong Pacific jet and trough affecting the West Coast next week. There are significant differences in the GFS and ECMWF model solutions, and although 5-day model performance has been good recently, performance often suffers during seasonal transitions. This morning's 12z GFS puts the initial focus of the event in the Pacific Northwest early in the week. Precipitation is forecast to spread into Northern and Central California, and finally Southern California, as the week progresses, and the trough deepens and moves onshore.
It's way too early to say how this system will affect Southern California. Many processes are in play that could affect the amount of precipitation here, pro or con. Yesterday afternoon's 00z ECMWF appeared to project a wetter solution for Southern California than this morning's 12z GFS, with the upper low and trough evolving a little more to the west. It does look like there is the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra. We'll see!
Update 04/03/10. The frontal band and upper low associated with the trough that moved through the area overnight Wednesday into Thursday produced some showers and some spectacular clouds in the Los Angeles area. The bulk of the precipitation occurred from Central California north into the Pacific Northwest. The upper low stayed offshore as it moved down the coast and past the Los Angeles basin. Avalon and some mountain locations recorded more than 0.1 inch of precipitation, but generally amounts south of Pt. Conception ranged from a trace to few hundredths. Here's an archived copy of a NWS Public Information Statement with some rainfall totals from around the area. A similar system is forecast to produce some rain in Los Angeles area Sunday night. BUFKIT analysis of 18z NAM data for Van Nuys projects about 0.4 inch of precipitation. The 09z SREF shows a high probability of measurable rain, but a sharp decrease in the probability of more than 0.1 inch/day south of Pt. Conception. We'll see!
There was an interesting lenticular wave train northwest of Los Angeles earlier this month. The situation was peculiar because the wind at nearly all levels at that time was from the northwest, and the wind forming the wave clouds appeared to be from the north-northeast. The tops of the wave clouds were being sheared by winds blowing from the northwest (left to right). An ARL NAM-12 based wind profile for the area on March 10 for 06z, shows a possible source of the winds that produced the waves, as well as the shear. Here's an animated series of NRL satellite photos showing the complex wind and wave pattern at the time.
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