...there be Micro climates in them thar hills
Springs unsettled weather pulled through this weekend again as
Saturday produced a wonderful days flying up at Kommetjie
on a South Wester, following a frontal system,
all to common at this late stage in the year,
when the order for the day should be moderate to strong South Eaters unabated.
Most guys flew just about everything in the hanger
and Lionel did maidens both on his Aldij and Solo, well done Lionel!,
and a few nubies joined us on the slope for their first attempts at this great hobby.
Still nice to see the initial flights and the first nervous steps towards unaided
slope soaring being taken. Something special seeing the smiles
break out as those first few tentative glides past the slope come to fruition.
Combat was as fun as usual and the smiles aplenty by the time
the lads bailed from the slope for a few well earned beers
down at Fisherman’s.
Looking at the forecasts for Sunday all seemed good with the howling summer
South Easters finally appearing, and Marc, Jeff and myself made
an early run up to St. James to go through the new aerobatics maneuvers
for the January contest, that should be published shortly
along with entry requirements. At first the conditions were great with a
steady 50-60 km/h South Easter pushing through the bay and the 3
of us had some great airtime. Upon entering the landing zone with the Vector 111
I did pick up a slight softening of the conditions and landings were
not as energetic as usual, and by the time we had Marc Aldij
on the ground things had got a whole lot more squishy.
This is when true to form, Damian chose to arrive at the top of the hill after
the 1.7km hike. And so we enetred one of those funny phases that this
specific slope produces.
First off the wind is still howling unabated across the bay,
the white horses are charging like theres no tomorrow,
and yet the slope goes into a deathly stillness as the wind on the face ceases
almost altogether. The brave/foolish of us still launched the wings out there,
hung on tight to the sticks and glided for the horizon
where once through the apparent heat bubble,
one was once more on the express elevator to dizzy heights.
And then it gets stranger indeed….
Whatever lift was there then changes to a wind going DOWN the mountain.
At this point we all pack up and go home as there is zero possibility
of really running far enough out to beat what is terrible sink
right on the slope edge.
Monday morning sees a call to CSAG (Climate System Analysis Group)
at the University of Cape Town. “CSAG is a dynamic group of
multi-disciplinary scientists with research projects linked to all aspects of the
climate system.” as their website says.
Micro climates seems to be the reason, and there may be
topographical reasons, as well as all other wind and weather factors
that may make this micro climate develop on certain days and not others.
Tossing around theories about katabatic winds etc ( me guilty on this one )
could easily be rectified by a studied and scientific explanation, from a scientist no less.
Would be nice to know what the signs are for this event, as it may save
us some sweat and tears by avoiding that slope when a certain set of
parameters come into play. As soon as I hear anything from CSAG
relevant to the topic I will post the details.