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Friday, February 20, 2015

Weather summary update: Winter 2014/2015



Stormy weather and wild lenticular clouds over the Tehachapi Mountains of Tejon Ranch.

We are obsessive weather watchers here in the arid west, and this winter has been of particular interest in hopes of easing our desperate drought worries. Here on Tejon Ranch, we have seven weather stations that document precipitation, temperature, and wind speed: two in the San Joaquin Valley, two in the Tehachapi Mountains, and three in the Antelope Valley. This data gives us a discrete glimpse into the specific conditions on the Ranch, and is an important tool to our understanding of patterns in biological responses. For example, this year we are seeing an unexpected influx of a nasty invasive species, Brassica tournefortii (Saharan mustard), in areas with few or no previous observations. Early rainfall and warm temperatures coupled with very little January and February rainfall (traditionally our wettest months) may have provided favorable growing conditions for this arid-adapted invader, and has prompted us to quickly organize work parties to remove these already maturing plants in areas of special concern. In future when weather patterns again appear favorable for this species, we will spend extra time monitoring these areas early so that we can plan our treatments more efficiently. Thus, monitoring weather data can offer us a little more information about how to proceed with effective seasonal conservation management on the Ranch, and in these uncertain times every useful tool is valued!

Below is a synopsis of the recorded temperature and precipitation values from the San Joaquin Valley, Tehachapi Mountains, and Antelope Valley regions of the Ranch for November through January. Stay tuned for regular seasonal updates.