Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weather or Not, El Nino is coming....

They say that California does not have seasons. As a Californian I offer that we have two seasons. Drought and El Nino. Here is a description of El Nino from NOAA:

  • El NiƱo is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe. Among these consequences are increased rainfall across the southern tier of the US and in Peru, which has caused destructive flooding, and drought in the West Pacific, sometimes associated with devastating brush fires in Australia
  • El Nino's usually bring heavy rain to the west coast of California with frequent flooding and mudslides. Mostly in the first 3 months of the calendar year.
Why this is of interest to me is because it usually means rain in biblical amounts. At least for California. The average rainfall in the Paso Robles area is between 12-14 inches per year. The past 5 El Nino events produced yearly rainfall as follows
  • 1978 23.38 inches
  • 1983 26.46 inches
  • 1993 23.01 inches
  • 1995 27.95 inches
  • 1998 20.65 inches
This may not look significant but in 4 of those years over 14 inches of rain fell in January and February alone. This causes the ground to become saturated and mudslides occur like this one in La Conchita, south of Santa Barbara:

The recent work on the road here:

should mitigate the erosion and mudslide that blocked the road that in 2005 after 14 inches of rain Jan-Mar.

I sincerely hope this is my only post on El Nino.

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