El Niño for real

Posted by John Hamilton

El NinoIs El Niño for real this time?

I don’t know about you, but if I got a nickel for every time I have heard someone say that El Niño is occurring, I would seriously be a rich man. 

This has led me to do a little digging into the truth behind El Niño, and if it is really occurring and going to produce much needed rainfall in California. 

Understanding past El Niño weather patterns

El Niño is a weather pattern which is triggered by the warming waters in the Pacific Ocean which spans west of Peru for thousands of miles. The warming of waters can alter weather patterns throughout the world which can produce a wet winter for Southern California. 

El Nino

The last El Niño we encountered was back in the Winter of 1997-98 which resulted in over 13” + of rainfall in February alone in S. California, depending on where you lived. There were massive landslides which inundated various areas throughout the region and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. 

So are we really going to experience aN El Niño this year? 

Well if a picture (or graph) is worth a thousand words, the following image shows a caparison of ocean temp’s from 1997 (last El Niño event) to 2015. Or you can just ask local fisherman about their record catches this past year just off of the Southern California coastlines. Is it a coincidence? We shall see. 

El Nino

Will El Niño end California’s drought?

After 4 long years of drought in California, it will help, but it will not end our current drought. During an El Niño period, Southern California (Los Angeles / Riverside / San Diego) has a 50% higher chance of receiving more rainfall, North of Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo has a 40% of higher rainfall, and San Luis Obispo to San Francisco a 33% chance of higher rainfall. 

Everything North of San Francisco, will pretty much be status quo. Seeing that Southern California receives most of it’s water from Northern California and the snow pack in the high Sierra’s during an El Nino cycle, little impact on the water supply is should be expected.

Could this El Niño prediction sputter out?

Well of course! Last year, NOAA also predicted an El Nino effect which just did not play out, and well…….the weather is just the weather. 

Winds play a factor in bringing up warm water from the Pacific towards the America’s. They’re weakening or even reversing directions, going from west to east. That's allowing warm water to surge toward the Americas, where it needs to be for El Niño to strengthen.

This is currently happening, but it needs to continue for an El Niño effect to have a serious impact in California. 

Should I alter my current irrigation conservation plan?

We would love to be able to say, "don’t worry about it! El Niño is going to solve all of our problems"; yet, that would be living in fantasy land. We highly encourage staying on top of your conservation plans, reduce non-playable turf areas, conduct water audits, upgrade equipment and maintain those irrigation systems.

Golf Irrigation Consultants: 415-342-1030