Ocean, Rain, Snow — El Niño Still A-Coming!

October 9, 2015

123243-5778393-6Bright sunshine and a warm breeze this Friday morning on California’s north coast, and although there’s a ‘slight’ chance of rain for this weekend, the odds are fairly low.

The Pacific Ocean is another matter, though. The NWS this morning warns of large swells up to 15 feet along the shoreline, and beware:

Beaches currently have their summer slope, but will quickly transition to a fall look with the waves moving large amounts of sand.
Lulls between the largest sets of breaking waves may be as much as 15 to 25 minutes.
Beachgoers should keep an eye on the waves and never turn their backs on the ocean.

(Illustration found here).

And with the massive Pacific, the odds are way-up the El Niño is still on the march towards us, and it’s supposedly a whopper. Via KTLA:

“There’s no longer a possibility that El Niño wimps out at this point. It’s too big to fail,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
“And the winter over North America is definitely not going to be normal,” Patzert said.

Details from yesterday’s the San Jose Mercury News, and when will it rain:

And the bulk of the rain — the real downpours with high risk of floods and mudslides — have occurred in January and February.
“For the most part, our rainy season really gets going in November, and El Niño is an add-on to our regular rainy season,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist formerly with the National Weather Service who runs Golden Gate Weather Services in Saratoga.

“If we don’t see a lot of rain in December, we should realize that’s not a big deal; it’s happened before in strong El Niño years,” said Null, who compiled the data.
“January and February have been big months.”
Only once, in 1965-66, when the annual rainfall totaled 15.84 inches, was there a drier-than-normal year in the Bay Area during a strong El Niño.

On Thursday, scientists at NOAA issued their monthly El Niño update.
It reported very warm Pacific Ocean temperatures at the equator in a key area that indicates El Niño strength.
The water there, off Peru, averaged 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the historic average in September, up from 3.72 degrees above average in August and slightly above September 1997, when it was 4 degrees warmer.
“This El Niño continues to be a strong event, and we have every expectation that it will remain this way through the winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
“The ocean has gotten a little warmer. It continues to strengthen.”

Although this winter’s outlook for wet is really, really needed, as a coastal resident, I really, really don’t look forward to it. And snow, not rain is what’s really, really needed.

From Capital Public Radio this morning, and Meteorologist Michelle Mead of the National Weather Service in Sacramento:

She says the latest outlook, which uses historical data, shows Northern California can expect above-average precipitation from a strong El Niño event.
“We’ve had six of them that have been in the strong category,” says Mead.
“And of those six, Northern California has also seen benefit with at least normal, if not above-normal precipitation, four out of those six events.”
But Mead says, the ocean warming condition won’t end the water supply deficit caused by four years of drought.
And, she says colder storms – from the Gulf of Alaska – bring better potential for snow.
“Well if you look at the precipitation outlooks they do unfortunately still indicate that our temperatures are expected to remain in the above-average category,” says Mead.
“And we won’t know actually what our snow season is going to look like until we get into it.”
The statewide snowpack measured April 1, 2015 was the lowest in records dating back to 1950.


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