By STAN Sundance Logo KASPRZYK

FlightLog Archive

Aircraft Flown

Flying Through the SW Heat Dome - Jul 2023

Throughout the month of July 2023, the US West coast, especially the southwest US, was covered in a giant inversion and 'heat dome', leading to a record month of high temperatures in Arizona, Nevada and the California deserts. We adjusted our planned flights from Renton to Concord/Oakland and Long Beach to start the days early, and climb to higher altitudes while cruising to try to avoid the maximum heating. Our initial departure from Renton to Medford, and on to Concord, CA, afforded us slightly above normal en route temperatures through Washington and Oregon, only elevating as we descended over the Sacramento Valley into Concord, where we landed in relatively normal 94-degree heat and predictable crosswinds. Our short drive with Theresa over the hills to Oakland dropped the temperatures to a gorgeous mid-70s, with even cooler low-60s as we toured the San Francisco Botanical Garden and enjoyed Vietnamese garlic Dungeness crab at our favorite PPQ Dungeness Island restaurant, near Golden Gate Park.

We got back into the heat while wine tasting in Livermore, escaping the 94-degree temps while chilling with the wine at Fenestra Winery. Since Brian was on a trip, we decided to give Theresa a San Francisco bay tour from the air. We took off from Concord with temperatures at 80° on the ground at 10:00AM, but already 90° at 2000’ with the strong inversion. As we flew through the crystal clear skies, we could see the blanket of low-level clouds along the coastline and streaming through the Golden Gate bridge, but the air above remained oppressively warm. It felt strange to descend into Concord at the end of the flight for cooler air!

After our enjoyable visit with Theresa, we continued south to San Luis Obispo, again passing through the strong inversion as we climbed out of Concord past San Jose, finding cooler air finally above 7000 feet. The heat dome was noticeable just east of the coast as we descended past Santa Barbara and Camarillo to overhead Santa Monica for the Special Flight Rules VFR passage over LAX. So Cal Approach and Long Beach tower were very efficient as we landed smoothly on runway 26L at Long Beach, parking at Atlantic Aviation for the week.

We enjoyed a great week in long Beach, shuttling the boys to their daily workout at the Long Beach Junior Lifeguard program, plus checking on Alex's performance with his saxophone at Jazz Angels, plus daily swimming in the pool.

David, Katie, Alex and Nathaniel all got a chance to fly in the left seat for PIC (Pilot-In-Command) time in our Warrior from Long Beach and Torrance, with all of them flying smoothly and learning the feel of the airplane. The weather was mostly sunny with a bit of ocean haze each day, except for a rapid low cloud/ocean fog advance that brought the Long Beach airport quickly to IFR status as we were returning from Torrance with Katie in the left seat. So Cal Approach gave us a pop-up IFR clearance, then vectors to the ILS to near minimums on runway 30 for a smooth tailwind landing. Katie’s comment was perfect: “Dad, I expected a bunny slope ride, and you just gave me a double black diamond”.

Weather for our Long Beach departure was again IFR with low ocean fog, but we broke through on our IFR departure into the clear skies and the heat dome while climbing northbound, having to climb to 8500 feet to get above the inversion. Our descent over San Francisco greeted us with crystal clear skies again, but the heat dome had pushed to the surface at Santa Rosa, providing 101-degree temperatures for our landing, but a chilled rental car that met us at our parking slot compensated well. Dinner at the excellent Sweet T's Southern restaurant in Windsor capped off the last night of our trip. We flew through some forest fire smoke near Mt. Shasta, but the rest of our flight back to Renton was cool and clear above the inversion.