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Training hill conditions.
Our training hill works best when the winds are blowing from SSE (150 Degrees) to WSW (280 Deg). These conditions happen over 300 days each year. Large scale weather conditions that effect this are, winds aloft, pressure systems, clouds. Small scale conditions that effect this are; heating, cloud cover, the local mountains. Both large and small scale conditions interact with each other. Normally from April through August we get a westerly flow that brings in the sea fog in making the training hill winds smooth, cool and consistent. Fall, winter and spring also have great conditions unless we have Santa Ana winds or rain.
The Bel Air knolls weather station shows current winds near the training hill. The best winds are SSE, less then 10 MPH to WSW not more then 15 MPH. Click on the image to see current trends. This shows the wind near the training hill. Zoom out on the map on the right to see several other wind talker sites in and around Santa Barbara.
This is the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast for our area. Approaching cold fronts can create an easterly wind condition.
The Santa Barbara Airport weather station is located 4 miles west of the training hill.
Use the Vandenberg balloon to find the large scale lapse rate. Then each weather station tells you what is really going on localy
San Marcos Pass is located 6 miles to the West of launch at 2500'.
La Cumbra Peak is the highest peak in Santa Barbara at 3950'. It is located 3 miles Wast and about 1000' higher than the Eliminator. Use this for the over all mountain weather conditions. We want southerly flow and less then 10MPG for Novice pilots.
Flores Flats Is located in a canyon, behind and below the main launch at 2800'. The temperature is wrong for now. I am working on this. Never rely on this for a wind direction or speed. It just gives you an idea of what is going on in the canyon. It can show south when it is blowing East out front of launch. Strong winds are not good.
Antanna Farm Is located in the flight path from the Eliminator at 2300'. Watch for strong East winds.
Upper Riviera is located close to the Parma Park landing area at about 800'. North winds are bad.Soaring Forecast Area discussion 850 MBSea level
All weather discussions here are over simplified. Please contact one of our seasoned local pilots for guide service and more indepth weather knowledge.
Winter is the best time of year for soaring the mountains in Santa Barbara. Spring and fall are great times also. Cold fronts cool the local mountain air below the ocean temperature which sets up a good lapse rate. Our launches in the Santa Ynez mountain range above Santa Barbara face south and get direct sun heating all day. This is part of the only mountain range in the U.S. that runs east-west and is one of the reasons we have more flying days per year than many other sites in the U.S. Commonly as a cold front approaches, the wind will start blowing from the east one or two days ahead of the storm. As the storm is 1 day out, the upper level clouds increase and temperatures start dropping. The atmospheric pressure also decreases. These east winds might increase in velocity. When the cold front hits it becomes unstable. This day might be a great flying day. We often get cummulus clouds (cummies) forming over and in front of the mountain range, that scream, "Call in sick and go flying!". If the front has enough moisture it can over-develop. Visibility can be an issue. After the front passes the winds switch to the northerly direction. Depending on the front, winds might be too strong to fly. These days after the front are often our epic soaring days. Then it starts to warm up and pressure increases again until we glide into to summer time flying.
In the summer, large scale high pressure systems set up inland, forcing most fronts up north. The desert behind Santa Barbara heats up more than the ocean. Since the normal upper air flow is northerly, this warm air gets pushed over the mountains down into Santa Barbara creating an inversion in the foothills. .
If the inversion is high enough, we can soar below it. When the lapse rate is good we can get above the inversion. If the inversion is low enough we can soar above it. It raises during the day if the sun can shine through it. It's easy to see a strong inversion, it's hazy in Santa Barbara but it is crystal clear up in the mountains, often around 3000 feet. The winds can be going different directions from above and below it. There can be multiple inversions and we can soar within each of these. Quite commonly the wind above the inversion will be strong east. Below the inversion it might be west to south-west.
During the day, with light winds, no high clouds and an inversion low enough to allow the upper southerly mountain faces to heat up we can launch and soar. Rarely do we get above 4K in the summer. Whereas in winter it's common to soar to 5000 or 6000 feet. As the mountains cool off it blows down (catabatic, off-shore). This window can be as short as 1/2 hour. This is how our Alternator launch site got it's name.
Good indicators of conditions are atmospheric pressure, front passages, temperature, winds aloft, and most important, talking to local pilots.
Vandenberg balloon is a balloon sounding recorder. It shows temperature/wind direction/ wind speed/ dew point and lapse rate from ground level through 18,000 feet. It is taken at 0000Z and 1200Z (7am). This gives you a rough idea of the lapse rate at altitude. It is taken north of Santa Barbara so it is more accurate when the winds are blowing from North West direction. All information below 4000 feet can be inaccurate because the local mountains change the local meteorology . Numbers in the center graphic show the lapse rate. Any reading 2 or better is good. Less or negative numbers make soaring harder.
GSS IR loop shows the trend of the large scale air movement. Use this to see weather fronts. This shows moving moisture.
Area discussionThis is a text forecast discussion of the weather analysts. It helps explain the guess work behind predicting the weather.
Marine Forcast shows the predicted winds for the ocean. This is not a good indication for actual conditions at the training hill but it does show conditions that can influence the training hill. Often times, the marine forcast will be for high, east or offshore winds but the training hill will have excellent training conditions.
Soaring Forecast is an attempt to predict the winds and temperatures at altitudes based on any and all DATA from any site. The format is like the Vandenberg report.
Montecito PKis located in the mountains at 1500 feet to the East of the eleminator launch. This hourly wind / temperature recorder helps give us a better idea of what the winds in the mountains are doing. For flying the mountains we prefer winds from 140 to 200 (SSE-SW) and less than 10 MPH. We also can compare the temperature against the airport Which is located at sea level to give us a rough lapse rate.
San Marcos PassWeather station located to the west of the alternator launch. The altitude is 2100 feet. This is another good indicator what is goin on at launch.
Bates Is small a ocean ridge soaring site located ????? miles South east of Santa Barbara. It faces slightly South West and is soarable when the winds are strong out of the West to North West on the ocean. It is a windy cliff launch, over the ocean, with a beach landing. If conditions are good you can jump back to a long ridge behind, and continue down this ridge. Ocean tides can make the beach landing tricky.