Unlike last year, El Nino continues to intensify leading some forecasters to make parallels with the 97/98 season, which was a big one for us. What Daniel Swain is saying however is that we have never experienced an El Nino with the Eastern Pacific ocean temps this anomalously hot from Alaska to Peru. The effects of such warm temps in conjunction with what appears to be a potentially strong El Nino puts us in new territory. Swain, a Stanford Ph.D. candidate and weather guru and chief correspondent for weatherwest.com is calling for us to hold on to our hats if El Nino continues to warm and Eastern Pacific temps hold or continue to push into record breaking territory. We could be in for a wild winter for a change!
This photo compares sea temps from 1997 to our present El Nino situation. As you can see we are close and building. However, perhaps more interesting is the NW Pacific Sea temps off our coast which are up to 10 degrees above average in places and breaking records. Since we have never experienced an El Nino year when our local sea temps were this warm… there is no way to predict the outcome. Warm water typically means energy, and energy, from a meteorological standpoint, normally means storms. However, the temps of these storms and where they may be headed… are all up in the air. Typically in less robust El Nino years it’s So Cal that gets most of the action leaving us high and dry. In big El Nino years like 82/83 and 97/98 even Tahoe received a pretty generous fraction of the action.
As one can easily see, we are working toward a significant event if we continue to intensify sea temps in the South Eastern Pacific. Although a homage to Ullr or any other God of your choice or El Nino herself might be helpful… probably a shot of your favorite beverage with a slow motion dream of your last bottomless pow run with your eyes closed will due just as well (my plan). At least that way we can again enjoy what has already happened plus it’s a great excuse for a drink!