December 3, 2013

Coastal County Avocado Growers At Risk

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Special Weather Statement for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. A cold low-pressure system from an Arctic air mass over Canada will bring an extended cold snap to Southwest California from Wednesday through Friday, December 4-6, 2013. They also warn of strong winds in advance of the cold front on Tuesday December 3, 2013. The front will be mostly dry with only scattered, isolated showers.

Winds from the west to north are expected to increase Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday for much of the advisory area. Forecasts call for gusts up to 40 mph along the Central Coast and Santa Monica Mountains. Interior valleys could see gusts up to 50 mph. The winds are expected to diminish late Tuesday/early Wednesday and be followed by much colder air.

Freezing Temperatures
The cold air is expected to arrive Wednesday and last through Friday. There is the potential for hard freeze conditions (temperatures at or below 28 °F for several hours) in the interior valleys of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties Wednesday night into Thursday morning and Thursday night into Friday morning. The lowest temperatures in the interior valleys are expected to be in the low to mid 20s, with temperatures remaining below freezing for several hours.

Along the coast and through Ventura and Los Angeles County valleys temperatures are expected to drop to right around freezing both Wednesday and Thursday nights. A gradual warming trend is expected for the weekend, but temperatures will remain well below average.

Freeze Protection
Most avocado growers rely on irrigation and/or wind machines for freeze protection. Growers in the area affected by the Special Weather Statement should use Monday and Tuesday to inspect their irrigation systems, checking for clogged nozzles, broken lines or other problems that would limit their ability to protect their groves. 
Wind machines should have already been serviced for the season, but if this hasn’t been done growers should try to get this task accomplished before Wednesday. Wind machine fuel tanks should be topped off and the machines should be started to make sure there would be no surprises when they are needed.

Growers are advised to watch for changes to this forecast on the NWS website. For the latest advisories and alerts go to and enter your city and state or zip code in the search box in the upper left corner to find the latest alerts for your area. For more information on freeze protection for your avocado groves please visit

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