It’s Always Sunny In Los Cabos

BY KATHRYN REED

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Andy Mical has been collecting Todos Santos weather data with the device on his roof for Weather Underground since 2015. Photo by Kathryn Reed

 

Sunny. Again, and again and again. Is it really necessary to be forecasting the weather in Baja?

Yes, would be the simple answer.

For one, the microclimates can be amazing. What is happening on one side of a town could be different on the other. A few degrees or some wind might be the difference in needing long-sleeves or bringing down the umbrella on the patio.

“The rain totals are immensely different. Sometimes it rains in Pescadero and there’s none here,” Andy Mical said, adding that the morning temperatures can have a big swing between locations that are just a half mile away.

Mical is what is known as a citizen meteorologist. The Todos Santos resident has been providing data to Weather Underground since 2015.

Weather Underground has been operating since 1993 and is considered the first online weather site. Its website says, “The vast amount of weather data we collect only becomes meaningful when combined with the scientific expertise that our team of meteorologists provide. Our proprietary forecast model leverages our personal weather station community to provide the most reliable and localized forecasts available. Our meteorologists and climatologists also provide valuable insight into the science behind the data and the relationship between weather and climate change.”

There are 23 weather stations connected to the Weather Channel and another nine owned by Conacyt, Mexico's council for science and technology in Southern Baja. 

Mical knows of two other stations in the Todos Santos area. His is in the Upper Las Brisas area and may be accessed by visiting https://www.wunderground.com.

While Mical does not have formal meteorological training, the weather was an important factor in his life before moving to Baja. He worked in Northern California treating surface drinking water, where it was a huge component of decision-making. Plus, there was a time when he had a long commute; that, too, required a close eye on the skies. His background in chemistry and biology add depth to his ability to understand the science of weather. 

The desire to have accurate local weather led Mical to invest in a personal weather station.

“When I went online I always got weather for La Paz or Cabo. It said Todos Santos, but it was way off,” Mical said. “That is what prompted me to provide real data for Todos Santos.”

Another driving component was his interest in kite flying. A good day in his neighborhood often turned out to be less than spectacular at the beach. Those microclimates were wreaking havoc on his fun. A little more knowledge via the weather station helped.

Inside his house is a device not much larger than a paperback book. With a touch of a finger the screen suddenly reveals an incredible amount of data in real time. The outdoor temperature, wind – speed-gusts-sustained, rain, humidity and barometric pressure are some of the data collected. Looking at the graphs can be mesmerizing. Information is obtained every minute. It is stored for about a year.

All of these facts are collected from the device attached to the highest point on his home. The twirling gizmo almost looks like a child’s toy spinning in the wind. 

While the investment in equipment is a few hundred U.S. dollars, Mical does not receive any compensation for providing data to Weather Underground. 

His stats are automatically fed to the company. Weather Underground then takes it and uses other models to come up with the forecast, which is then provided for free to anyone who wants to see what the weather is going to be in cities around the world.

Mical says Todos Santos is in a bubble, especially in the summer. 

“It can rain in Pescadero and look like rain here, but it skirts around Todos Santos,” Mical said. 

Mostly what he has documented in his time as an amateur weather guru is the fluctuation in seasons.

“We get a marine layer in the springtime. It is usually here in May and June, sometimes in April. One year it lasted well into July,” Mical said.

He has also noticed the computer models continue to improve. Mical starts his day by looking at the data coming off the weather site and going online to watch the predictions.

“People freak out as soon as a hurricane is in the forecast. I see all the posts online. I just watch,” Mical said. “Two days out it’s pretty accurate. That’s plenty of time to prepare.”

It’s not just Todos Santos weather Mical cares about. When he travels Weather Underground is his go-to site to know what it will be like at his destination. He believes it is the most accurate forecast available.

Mical admits long-term forecasting is still an imperfect science.

“I think seven days out is still iffy. If you go two days out, they are almost right on,” Mical said. Weather Underground forecasts up to 10 days in advance. ,