Time To Prepare For El Nino, While You Can!

Everyone is asking when the rains will start pummeling Southern California. Well, here is the latest on projections and we urge anyone reading this to begin preparing now for the coming onslaught of storms that will surely make life very difficult for many!

Those at highest risk are those who live in the burn areas, near flood control channels, foothills and of course those living on the coast line. While none have to be victims of the coming storms, being prepared will ensure that all precautions and planning is being done to prevent loss of property or life. There is also the need to have a plan for pets and animals as they rely on special considerations as well. So, do not leave any stones unturned in your preparedness endeavors.

Here is a story we found written by Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News on October 8th, 2015 dealing with the question on when to expect the El Nino rains:

 

The answer, experts said Thursday, is that winter storms in strong El Nino years typically bring more rain to California than normal, but they don’t do it any earlier.

 

An analysis of the five winters back to 1950 in which strong El Nino conditions similar to this year have occurred shows that in the Bay Area during those years, October has been only slightly wetter than the historic average. November has been nearly twice as wet in most. December has been oddly drier than normal in all five strong El Nino winters. 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 Nino 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.

 

Using San Francisco rainfall as a baseline for the Bay Area, in four of the five strong El Nino years — 1957-58, 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98 — the overall annual rainfall totals have exceeded the historical average of 23.9 inches. In the wettest, 1997-98, the rainfall was double the average, at 47.22, with relentless rainfall in January and February that soaked the state and caused flooding and mudslides. Other Bay Area cities showed similar patterns.

 

“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 Nino 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 Nino.

 

On average, 70 percent of the Bay Area’s yearly rain total falls during just four months: November, December, January and February, a staple of Northern California’s Mediterranean climate. Similarly, during the soaked winter of 1997-98, about 77 percent of the Bay Area’s rain fell in those same four months.

 

On Thursday, scientists at NOAA issued their monthly El Nino update. It reported very warm Pacific Ocean temperatures at the equator in a key area that indicates El Nino 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 Nino 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.”

 

NOAA scientists said there continues to be a 95 percent chance that El Nino conditions will continue through the end of this year — up from 85 percent in June and 50 percent last spring.

 

El Nino is a disruption in the weather patterns over the Pacific Ocean, when the ocean’s surface warms more than normal. Those warm waters release heat, changing wind directions and the jet stream, which often brings more and wetter storms to California.

 

Halpert agreed that this year, if big storms come, they aren’t likely to come any earlier than in a normal winter.

 

For Californians wishing for soaking rains, Halpert said it’s important to remember that too much water too fast can also create major problems. He cited South Carolina, where 17 people have died this week in flooding related to Hurricane Joaquin, and at least 11 dams have breached.

 

“If you get 15 or 20 inches of rain in a few days, nobody has the infrastructure to deal with that,” he said. “I have expectations this winter when I turn on the news that I will see houses sliding into the Pacific Ocean. It’s not a good thing, but it’s almost a hallmark of these kinds of El Nino winters.”

 

However, Halpert noted that if storms aren’t cool enough they won’t build up the Sierra snowpack, a key water source for California. And with a significant rainfall deficit in most parts of the state, even a very wet winter might not end the drought in one year.

 

Nevertheless, with the likelihood of strong storms growing, California residents have begun preparing. Roofing companies are booked solid. Cities and water districts are stockpiling sandbags and clearing clogged stream channels. Utilities are trimming dead trees from four years of drought away from power lines.

 

“We are taking the prospect of a wet winter very seriously,” said Matt Nauman, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric, which provides electricity and natural gas to 16 million people from Bakersfield to Eureka. Nauman said the company has 350 arborists and foresters and 650 tree crews working to trim trees on 134,000 miles of overhead power lines to reduce the risk of blackouts when storms knock dead branches into power lines. Widespread blackouts happened during the 1997-98 and 1982-83 storms.

 

“We need to be ready whatever the weather ends up being,” he said.

 

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