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Thread: Weak wave last Sunday?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    San Jose, CA

    Weak wave last Sunday?

    Sunday was quite a bit better than expected... I wanted to fly one last time in 2012 and Sunday was looking flyable (i.e. it was not raining). I also wanted to see all of the snow on top of the Goat Mountain and Snow Mountain area before it melts. As you can see from the pictures below, it's truly a winter wonder land up in the mountains. The north facing slopes are AMAZING! I would highly recommend taking a tow to take a look before it starts raining again.

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    I convinced Andy Hogben, he also needed to go flying in the Arcus on Sunday. We did not expect any soaring, since the north winds were expected to be light. To our surprise, as we turned north onto highway 505, the north winds were blowing fairly strong about 15 - 20 mph. When we arrived at WSC, the winds were blowing 10 - 15 mph from the north with an occasional gust to 20 mph. We debated about towing to Sutter Buttes to look for the wave, but with the wind forecasts and our desire to see the snow in the Goat Mountain area, we decided to tow to the southern side of Snow Mountain to see what we could find.

    We got off tow at 8,500' MSL on the southern face of Snow Mountain in very, very weak and spotty wave, but the views of the snow on all of the mountain tops was incrediable. We had 100+ mile visibility with deep snow covering the northern slopes of Goat and Snow Mountain. We slowly sank down to 7,800' before we found the weak and spotty wave which produce 0 - 150 fpm on and off. We slowly worked our way back up to 8,800' We tired a little exploring towards Gravelly, chasing a wisp which did not work. We retreated east from Snow Mountain hoping we might find some weak wave in the valley which spills out towards Stoneyford, CA.
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    As you can see from the picture of the GPS track, we worked the south-south-eastern spine off St. John Mountain. The interesting thing about this spine is that it's clear from any other mountain interference up wind, it's sticking out in the clear flow of a north wind and it's a pretty good wave trigger. We did not have a very good wind gradient, but it worked fairly reliably from 6,000' to 10,900' MSL.

    Flight details:
    Max Altitude = 10,900'MSL
    Low Point = 6,000 MSL (on the south-southeastern spine of St. John Mountain)
    Maximum Gain = 4,900'
    Flight Time = 2.7 hours
    Winds = North-Northeast@16 - 18 mph
    Coldest Temperature = 3.2 F

    A wonderful way to end the 2012 soaring season...

    I posted our flight on OLC:
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Pete (98); 12-31-2012 at 05:45 PM.
    Pete Alexander -- 98

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Schleicher ASW-24

    Re: Weak wave last Sunday?

    Thank you Pete for a wonderful report.
    Of course, I regret that I didn't have the foresight to enjoy such a great day.
    I coulda been there. Darn.
    We are into the 2013 season for sure, since all of the days are getting longer. This flight is definitely the best one of our new season.

    Thanks again, Pete and Andy for the photos and for sharing your experience.
    Peter Kelly

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    WSC, San Anselmo

    Re: Weak wave last Sunday?

    This is a late post about the wave last weekend. I also was not sure what would be happening, but took a drive up to the field to get G3 put together and at least do some take offs and landings. Pleasantly surprised by Pete 98's radio reports when I arrived early afternoon, I decided to tow to Sutter Buttes and see what was out there.

    I had called Noelle to reserve a tow, and at her suggestion, Ben, Nick and Danny had assembled G3 (Thanks, all) and the ship was ready to go.

    The scenery was not as spectacular as the fresh snow on the Mendo's, although at the Buttes, signs of spring are emerging - lots of seasonal ponds reflecting the blue skies, the river and irrigation ditches are full, sporting whitecaps, and the ground is greening up. Lassen and Shasta werre visible to the north, Sacramento skyline to the SE, Diablo, Tam and the Delta were all visible. Skies were really clear, and the Sierra were generating cu's. Otherwise it was a blue day where I was.

    I took off at about 3 PM, towed to 6,000 over the Buttes (Thanks, Kerry!) and found the wave pretty easily. It was small and , and I worked constant figure 8's in 0.5 - 2 kts lift to about 6,800. At that point I would lose the lift, and search around until I found it again, usually at about 6,000 ft. It was fairly consistent, smooth, and wonderful, clear air. It seemed the wind was shifting from NW to NE, and the wave was moving to the SW of the towers as the afternoon progressed. I would estimate the winds at about 20 - 25 kts at the altitudes I was soaring.

    Pete and Andy joined me around 4:15 PM and I wished I had brought my camera to get a photo of the Arcus - air to air! About that time I was getting cold and headed back to land. The day yielded a flight of about 1 hour and 20 minutes, and was really refreshing.

    A very nice surprise for a December weekend. Day ended with a dinner at Cairo's, good dinner, good stories and good company. I think Andy and I have a tentative date to explore the snowy Mendo range up close with a snowshoe trek - that should be fun!

    Thanks to all who made the day "happen". Sorry, no flight recorder, but the SPOT trace is on the "links".
    Ginny Farnsworth G3
    Past President
    Valley Soaring Association

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