The Santa Cruz Eddy. Part I: Observations and Statistics

Archer, Cristina L.; Jacobson, Mark Z.; Ludwig, Francis L.
April 2005
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2005, Vol. 133 Issue 4, p767
Academic Journal
A shallow cyclonic circulation that occurs in the summertime over the Monterey Bay (California) is investigated. Since it is often centered offshore from the city of Santa Cruz and has never been studied in detail before, it is named the Santa Cruz eddy (SCE) in this study. Its horizontal size is 10–40 km, and its vertical extent is 100–500 m. The SCE is important for local weather because it causes surface winds along the Santa Cruz coast to blow from the east instead of from the northwest, the latter being the climatological summer pattern for this area. As a consequence of the eddy, cool and moist air is advected from the south and southeast into the Santa Cruz area, bringing both relief from the heat and fog to the city. The SCE is unique in its high frequency of occurrence. Most vortices along the western American coast form only during unusual weather events, whereas the SCE forms 78%–79% of the days during the summer. The SCE frequency was determined after analyzing two years of data with empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) from a limited observational network and satellite imagery. An explanation of the formation mechanism of the SCE will be provided in Part II of this study.


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