MICROCLIMATE OF THE SEA OF CORTEZ
There is climate and there is microclimate.
Wikipedia - A microclimate is a local set of atmospheric conditions that differ from those in the surrounding areas, often with a slight difference but sometimes with a substantial one.
The Sea of Cortez is Microclimate Land.
The amount of convection with big thunderstorms is significantly greater on the Mexican mainland and the eastern side of the Sea of Cortez compared with Baja California and the western side of the Sea of Cortez - at this time of year. The microclimate in the same area is probably different in winter.
When I flew out to work on Indian Reservations in light aircraft, microclimate varied significantly with the time of the year and the altitude of the destination. The weather was different on the Apache reservations than on the Navajo reservation - they had different microclimates.
In my ten years as a flying doctor, I became familiar with the different microclimates in Arizona that determined where, when, and if we could fly.
I am just starting to learn about the microclimate of the Sea of Cortez. I would have to remain here for a year to fully understand the microclimate and how it changes with the seasons in this part of the world.
The better you understand microclimate, the more accurate your weather predictions and the farther out you can safely extend them.
For microclimate rookies like me in a new location, all is not lost. We have tools that help us stay out of harms way until the local microclimate becomes second nature to us.
The CAPE index shows regions where thunderstorms are likely to occur. If the CAPE index is above 2000, the risk of thunder and lightning is high.
At this time of year, the geography of mainland Mexico favors the development of convection along the eastern reaches of the Sea of Cortez, and at night the convection becomes pronounced resulting the in formation of Chubascos with winds going to sixty knots and higher with associated heavy rain. Chubascos are microclimate with attitude - microclimate gone mad.
What have I learned so far about the microclimate of the Sea of Cortez?
1. The North Pacific High has been my friend - my invisible shield from the storms generated in the monsoon trough - at this time of year (July).
2. The monsoon trough is a trouble maker that tirelessly spews out tropical depressions and hurricanes - at this time of year.
3. The Mexican mainland is a convection machine that relentlessly generates thunderstorms in the summer and sends them across the Sea of Cortez at night in the form of Chubascos - at this time of year.
4. The mountains that form the backbone of Baja California are my friend protecting me from the North Pacific High - if those mountains were not there, my socks would be blown off by strong persistent north winds.
5. When there is a break in the mountains in areas like La Paz, the winds off the North Pacific High squeeze through the break and create strong localized winds.
6. The mountains of Baja California provide some protection for the Sea of Cortez from hurricanes and tropical storms that strike the Pacific coast of Baja.
7. When a strong high pressure area develops over Arizona and New Mexico and a ridge of high pressure extends down to the Sea of Cortez - watch out, because strongly northerly winds are on the way. That’s the same scenario we faced when we had to fight northerly winds in the Gulf of Suez - thirty knots of wind on the nose for 200 miserable miles. When you have an enclosed body of water with mountains running down each side, you create a wind tunnel between the mountains, and a high pressure area to the north is a recipe for misery when you want to head north.
8. The microclimate of the northern half of the Sea of Cortez is different than in the southern half. That is why insurers cover yachts against hurricanes in the northern half of the Sea - the microclimate of the northern half is completely different in the summer.
I have many more lessons to learn about the microclimate of the Sea of Cortez over the next six months. In the meantime, I will make up for my lack of knowledge by downloading satellite photos and studying grib files and the CAPE index.
If I am still here next year, I should have a good handle on the microclimate.
Until then, satellite imagery, grib files, and the CAPE index are my new best friends.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.
The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea. The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal. It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers. Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.
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Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea
See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one
After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams
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