A sudden rainstorm hit Humboldt State September 29, 2019. Rainstorms like this one are common during the wet winter. | Photo by Collin Slavey

Sprinkles Expected for Spring Break

Rains look to rush in this upcoming weekend

Rains look to rush in this upcoming weekend

Cold clouds creep on the horizon, waiting for students to flee Arcata before dumping rain on the city. The days of sunny skies and warm weather may come to a damp halt at the beginning of spring break.

Spring is here, and it’s wet. This coming weekend, rain is forecasted to fall on Humboldt State. Break is just around the corner and inclement weather may be a downer for partying students, so be sure to check the weather before the rager starts.

This helpful graph, built by weatherspark.com, shows the average daily chance of rain in Arcata throughout the year. | Graph by Weatherspark

To prepare for the break, The Lumberjack science section reached out to the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration office and asked a meteorologist what we can expect. It may get cold.

According to Brad Charboneau, one of those NOAA meteorologists, we’ve still got a couple more cold months ahead of us. We’re not out of the chill yet, even though the spring season is when temperatures start warming up.

“I check the weather often either with the NOAA weather app or by looking at the sky. If it looks questionable or if the sky is darker than usual, check it.”

Mattea Roberts

For curious weather geeks, the NOAA station uses a number of sensors and measuring devices to record weather events. For example, they use a tipping bucket rain gauge that measures hundredths of an inch. Each time the bucket fills, the bucket tips over and records a tic. The more tics, the more water. Easy as that.

Mattea Roberts probably appreciates meteorological instruments like the tipping bucket. A freshman studio artist at HSU, Roberts takes advantage of NOAA science by using their weather app. She said it was a good idea to check the weather if the sky looked questionable.

“I check the weather often either with the NOAA weather app or by looking at the sky,” Roberts said. “If it looks questionable or if the sky is darker than usual, check it.”

Roberts also said she brings a rain jacket or an umbrella to school every day, just in case it does rain. She’s probably going to be prepared for whatever the climate has to throw at her this weekend.

“I can tell you right now, it’s gonna be nice and warm up until Friday,” Charboneau said. “On Saturday, believe it or not, we’re gonna have a shift to cooler, more showery weather that will last through the weekend.”

Charboneau said the rain isn’t going to be very intense from the perspective of the rivers, but the conditions may make the weekend less than ideal if students have outdoor plans.

One of Charboneau’s colleagues, Meteorologist Ryan Alyward, explained how NOAA forecasts weather. He said as a meteorologist, his job is to pay attention to what’s going on in the sky and diagnose the conditions. Understanding what’s happening now allows him to make a prognosis of what weather conditions will be.

Using a program he called Ensemble, meteorologists input real-time data and get a large number of weather predictions. The predictions are future weather patterns that may or may not happen, and it is his job to use these to make a forecast of the weather. The trick is to look at the similarities in each model, because together, those similarities make the most likely prediction.

The current models, beyond the wet weather forecasted in Arcata, include snow in the mountains east of the city. Charboneau said although snow is more common in January and February, it’s not unheard-of in March.

“We’re looking for the potential of snow—low-level snow—which will impact the passes going east,” Charboneau said. “It is likely to see some snow over the weekend. Those are the main threats over the weekend.”

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