THUNDERSTORMS ON THE MENU FOR MONDAY
It was a wild Sunday, weatherwise. The third and most powerful storm system, of three that had been identified from last week, blasted through California today. A long forecast plume of tropical moisture flowed northeastward into the state alongside a strong polar jet stream. Deep low pressure was spinning up to our north, energizing a tight pressure gradient over the state. Meantime, a low level wind jet stream was approaching the Frazier Park area from the southwest. Extremely strong winds were the result.
Grapevine Peak recorded a wind gust to 108 MPH before noon. At the base of the Grapevine near the CHP scales, winds gusted to 69 MPH. Taft saw 63 MPH. All these winds caused general property damage in many areas with blown over fence, several uprooted trees, damaged signs and at least 15,000 customers who lost power. The winds diminished by mid-afternoon once the low level jet stream pushed east and away. Downslope winds in situations like todays often bring about a significant rain shadow for the south valley. That was the case on Sunday. Only .08” fell in Bakersfield at the airport. Most other spots in and around Bakersfield saw less than a quarter inch.
However, the Kern County mountains received a lot of rain. Piute Mountain recorded 2.57”. Lake Isabella saw 2.37” of rain. Additionally, the Kern River Valley once again was hit with a period of snow. Similarly to last Friday, significant snow fell with Lake Isabella reporting 3”. Even while snow levels were rising dramatically due to the tropical moisture plume, Kernville to Wofford Heights and over to Weldon we trapped in a cold pocket. Only by late afternoon had the snow ended.
A nice break in the action developed by 3 PM as the first part of Storm #3 moved east. The sun came out for a while. But a second portion of Storm #3 was about to move in. A strong cold front was set to take high snow levels down to the passes again Sunday evening and especially Monday morning. Moisture, cold and very unstable air is expected through the night and into Monday. A Winter Storm WARNING remains in effect for the Kern County mountains through 10 AM Monday. An additional 4-8” of snow is likely with up to 3” at the passes. This could impact travel of the Grapevine and Tehachapi Pass.
On Monday, a cold trough of low pressure aloft will be directly over Kern County. The stark instability will bring about shower and thunderstorm activity in central California. Individual storms may contain hail and gusty winds. There is a chance hail could be up to 1” in diameter and potentially cover the ground. Wind gusts to 45 MPH are possible, as well as lightning and brief heavy rainfall. An additional .25-.50” of precipitation is likely in the south valley. This is a weather situation that provides an environment for funnel cloud formation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a funnel cloud report or two from Bakersfield up through the Fresno and Merced area. On rare occasion, a funnel cloud of this sort has touched the ground to produce a tornado. Monday will feature a scenario in which there is a slight chance that could happen.
Finally, by Tuesday a drying trend sets up. Computer models are indicating another wave should move through Tuesday, but it should stay to our west along the coast. Still, I have kept a 20% chance for a shower on Tuesday. We clear out on Wednesday with much cooler overnight low temperatures. Yet another weak wave pushes through from the northwest on Thursday. I’ve got clouds in the forecast for Thursday, but no rain predicted for the south valley. An impressive ridge of high pressure then builds and expands over the west for Friday and beyond. It will turn lovely in the mountains and desert with sunshine and mild temperatures.
In the south valley fog will become more and more likely by Wednesday after all the rain we’ve had. The best chance for fog and low clouds develops the end of this week as high pressure aloft becomes dominant. Our seasonal rainfall and monthly rainfall totals are both about 200% of where they should be for this time of the year. So far, Bakersfield is in its 7th wettest January on record, coming on the heels of the 3rd wettest December. And more rain is coming on Monday.
Chief Meteorologist MILES MUZIO- January 22, 2017 7:36 PM
Today's Record Temperatures