Good morning and greetings, Labor Day fans. The action really picked up last week during my morning walks along West Cliff, as a south swell hit the coast, bringing with it big waves, big rides and huge hopes that the dreary coastal fog might actually blow away before I start carving my vegan Thanksgiving turkey.
Personally, I don’t have anything against fog, which is defined as a gathering of water droplets that are partying in the air at the Earth’s surface. However, when it comes to pea soup, I prefer it in a cup instead of hovering along the coastline. Speaking for myself and I believe, a large percentage of sweatshirt-wearing folks on the central coast, now that it’s September, let’s hope the party is over.
But as we know, if it’s summertime, that means the Yankees and Red Sox will be going at it in the A.L East and a thick layer of home-grown coastal fog will be parked along Monterey Bay. In a story last month in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, writer Lily Drayton gave us the inside scoop of our moist summer friend that like some relatives and friends, just doesn’t know when to leave.
Fog plays a vital role in making sure that Monterey Bay lives up to its name on the beauty front. The fact that fog could disappear from the coast has caught the attention of scientists, waitresses and skimboarders, as these crystal droplets in the atmosphere play almost as an important role in our lives as my updated TiVo programming.
According to Emily Limm, the director of science at Save the Redwoods League, “what’s important about fog is timing – It occurs in the summer months when there is no rainfall in California.” The fog provides much-needed water to plants in a time of drought while keeping moisture in the ecosystem, much like putting a lid on an empty jar of Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce.
Fog thrives on the central coast because of the temperature difference between cool ocean water and warmer air. We get slammed here because Monterey Bay is a giant canyon, with deep cold water that is chillier than the look I got when I sauntered into my draft board back in 1970. When the summer breezes that gather over the Pacific hit the ice water in the Bay, the air chills and all of a sudden it’s condensation city and we’re socked in.
For the folks that study fog for a living, the central coast is nirvana with a young Kurt Cobain. In the words of Daniel Fernandez of CSU Monterey Bay, “There is something almost magical about fog, as it’s variable and constantly changing. We have a great living laboratory for fog in Monterey along with a tremendous example of clam chowder in a bread bowl at Phil’s Fish House in Moss Landing.”
Now there has been much talk about the depressing amount of this daily drizzle from this past August. According to the National Weather Service in Monterey, there were 24 days of fog in August 2010 and 25 in 2011. Now I will admit under oath that I was gone the first week of August. But according to my statistical estimations of my algorithmic calculations, there were two sunny mornings last month, which means it was one depressingly foggy month for beach goers. To this mild-annered reporter for a great metropolitan blog, it seems like it has been getting foggier every year. But lo and behold, this is not the case.
According to Professor Todd Dawson of UC Berkeley, word on the street and a recent study shows that coastal fog in California has declined since the 1950’s. Over the last 60 years, the fog and my hopes and dreams have dropped by more that 30 percent. Dawson says because the air temperatures are warming up, so are the oceans, and if that warm air is not hitting the cool ocean, then we’re not fogged in, we’re fogged out. But as the boys from Foghat would say, “Slow ride, take it easy.”
Moving along on the fog front, for you tree lovers, the redwoods gather 30 to 40 percent of their moisture from coastal fog. They are more dependent on this moisture than my parents are on me, who expect a gourmet dinner delivered every night from yours truly. And as Dawson adds ,”Redwoods trees wouldn’t achieve their great heights if they didn’t have the boost of a fog bank every summer.” And size does matter. But remember, only God can make a tree. And only you can prevent forest fires. And Forest Whitaker.
On today’s photo laugh track, we are not featuring fog, but instead some scenes that would be emotionally available to us if the coast weren’t socked in every morning like a wet gray blanket. We return to Kauai as the first two shots are a sunrise taken on the north shore skies above Hanalei. Next comes sunset on lovely Hanalei Bay. Photo credits go to my gluten-free brother Brad, who is chomping at the bit to be dropped off on top of a glacier in Alaska next winter so he can go heli-snowboarding down it. I was planning on going with him but recent blood tests revealed that I’m allergic to terror and prone to night sweats when I’m within 100 yards of a large persistent body of ice.
The final two shots are from a August sunrise over Poipu Beach on the south shore of the Garden Isle. And since I don’t want you to go completely cold turkey without some info from Hawaii, here’s a news flash. The future island of Loihi is being created 20 miles southeast of the Big Island. It’s still about 3,200 feet below the surface of the ocean, so hotel rooms, tropical lauas and sunset catamaran cruises are still available at bargain prices. Stay tuned for more details and savings coupons.
To check out these photos, click on http://www.SunriseSantaCruz.com/blog.