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Major pattern shift will deliver cold and on and off wet weather thru next week

Pacific Coast
Posted at 12:12 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 01:57:30-05

Thursday is featuring some offshore flow and plenty of highs will be in the 70s but we will turn the corner quickly Friday thru next week.

First up is a trough and a cold front Friday, in face some increase of cloud cover likely starts tonight. While the atmosphere is relatively dry the system is cold enough to squeeze out showers Friday into Saturday morning. I'd say light to -.33" of rain, with perhaps more in the NW corner of SLO county in the foothills. Snow levels with this first system could go as low as 3500ft. Other than the showers and clouds I'm sure you'll notice that the highs will only hit the 50s and maybe some scattered 60s Friday.

The cold air isn't going anywhere. Weekend highs will stay in the 50s and 60s. Saturday will be partly cloudy outside an early morning shower chance as the system clears out. Then there is a brief break before the next system.

That next system looks to arrive Sunday PM into Monday. This system looks stronger than the first with up to .50" potential but it also looks colder with snow levels perhaps down to 2500ft. Again this cold system will keep highs in the 50s generally with some low 60s.

The big story is what is possible the mid-point of next week. First it needs to be said we are talking about a storm nearly a week away so the forecast will likely change, but it deserves some attention because several models have indicated that inches of rain are possible.

The general set-up is a huge, cold and slow moving trough which looks to draw at atmospheric river from the south to give the system plenty of moisture to work with.

If everything aligns this produces not only the high rain but also potentially a lot of wind as well. Yesterday models indicated the SLO county area would see the most today the American GFS model shifted the atmospheric river to the Santa Barbara area, with the east-west Santa Ynez range there this has to be watched carefully because such an event could produce a lot of rain. At this point I'd just say stay tuned.

We need the rain, we are behind for the month and the season. There are some climate models showing a potential slow-down in February so it could be our best shot for water. That said, when it comes too fast of course there are always concerns.