‘Sneaker Waves’ and the Season

November 12, 2015

CC_El_NinoClear and bright this Thursday morning on California’s north coast, and chilly, too.
A goodly-sized rainstorm forecast for Saturday, maybe more than a half inch of rain, followed on its heels by another front carrying supposedly an-inch-and-a-half of the wet stuff.

And a warning for beach-goers from the NWS: ‘A building northwesterly swell will impact the northwest California coast on Friday bringing 16 to 19 foot breakers to north and northwest facing beaches and the potential for sneaker waves.’

As the fronts keep coming, badly-needed rain will keep falling, although for us up here, it’s been more drizzle than downpour — and the big require is snow. Via NBC News this morning: ‘Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is well above normal for the this time of year, indicating California might see improved drought conditions after a record dry spell.’
Maybe the bubbling influence of our coming El Niño event, considered a record ball-breaker, is finally showing up.

Conditions are green for go — from SFGate, also this morning:

The monthly update by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center indicates that the closely-watched ocean pattern remains on track to energize the storm track over the Pacific and potentially deal the drought-stricken Golden State a dose of sopping-wet weather come winter.
Water temperatures around the equator have risen as much as 10 degrees above normal and trade winds have weakened, according to the report, with both metrics at levels mirroring the historic El Niños of 1982-83 and 1997-98, when relentless rains hammered California.
Such conditions are known to drive moisture into the atmosphere and propel major shifts in worldwide weather.
“Seasonal outlooks generally favor below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation over the northern tier of the United States,” forecasters wrote in Thursday’s report.

The Center’s report also indicated El Niño is expected to peak in winter, though, there’s signs the shit is about to hit the fan. Southern California has already seen above-average rain this fall, which has been attributed to the growing influence of the El Niño.
And for us up here in the north?

The timing and impact for Northern California is a little less foreseeable.
El Niños have correlated more directly with rain in the Southland, though strong events have tended to produce wetter winters across the state.

We’ve got the reservoirs, though, and the drought won’t go away without us getting drenched…

(Illustration: El Niño last August, via NOAA, found here).

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