Glorious weather continued to grace the Walla Walla Valley this past week, with sunny skies and warm temperatures tempered by afternoon breezes the rule as high pressure over southeastern Washington remained well in command.
In the vineyard, viticulturists were ecstatic with the dry and warm weather, which was absolutely perfect for the successful pollination of the grape flowers that are in bloom across a wide variety of cultivars and vineyard blocks.
Preliminary cluster counts are presaging a potentially good yield this fall from those blooming flowers — particularly with the forecast indicating a continuation of the favorable weather regime for the balance of this week and into the coming weekend, with very little chance of rain until perhaps sometime Sunday.
The abundance of sunshine provides the photosynthetic fuel for the grapevines’ leaves, which use it and carbon dioxide to provide the carbohydrates that grapes and all green plants need to flourish. Building a healthy, functional leaf canopy appropriate for the size of the crop and maintaining it throughout the growing season into harvest is what grape canopy management is all about.
Your nearly infallible forecaster spent the better portion of this past weekend dealing with a nasty issue that the loose cannons at the IRS have visited upon him and his fellow forecasters, who have been targeted by those misguided and decidedly un-civil servants for some extra scrutiny regarding our recently filed tax returns.
Seems as if one of the agency's higher-ups relied a bit too heavily on a garden-party forecast for a soiree he threw several weeks back. This ended up being wrecked by an unpredicted and rather violent thunderstorm, much to the chagrin of the host and his wife, who had evidently begged him multiple times to rent a tent for the evening despite the forecast of perfectly calm weather for the pricey event.
As retribution for the erroneous and costly (both financially and domestically) prognostication, the order went out to nail those — and here I quote from a supposedly secret memo sent out to IRS field offices across the land — “lyin’ SOBs” to the wall for all past, present and future misdeeds. Thus, your tremulous weatherperson spent most of his weekend preparing for what will no doubt be a painfully rigorous audit of his 2012 return, which he regrettably filled out in his usual cavalier manner — not suspecting for a moment (until the fateful letter arrived) that his future as a free man might be sorely jeopardized by such a casual approach.
Cooler weather is on tap for the local area as the week progresses, with a low pressure system digging south from the British Columbia coast to take up a position just to the west of the Evergreen State. Winds will assume a more southwesterly direction under the influence of the low, and a bit of moisture will be transported from the Pacific to interior portions of Oregon and Idaho — well east and south of the Walla Walla Valley. As the low progresses to the east on Wednesday, showers may become more numerous west of the Cascades, but very little precipitation will make it over the mountains.
Much cooler maritime air will filter into the eastern portions of the state courtesy of this low, and afternoon temperatures may fall below normal for the first time in many days on Thursday as a result, with just the slightest chance of an isolated sprinkle or two, mostly over the higher elevations. Drier and milder weather is forecast for Friday; but with strengthening southerly flow on Saturday generated by another unseasonably strong low off the coast, moisture will be on the increase — particularly Sunday, when this activity may become more widespread with the potential for some stronger thunderstorms.
This may not be such bad news. With the IRS’s sword of Damocles hanging over his head, your fearful forecaster would almost welcome the swift and final justice of a well-placed lightning bolt rather than twisting in the searing wind of an extended legal process that may end with him receiving his future mail at an address that might necessarily include his inmate number. Oh, heartless agents of doom, have mercy on your witless weatherman!
A lifelong fan of both the weather and the Baltimore Orioles, Jeff Popick is an instructor at the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College and manages the school’s teaching vineyard. Send your questions and comments to him at email@example.com.