Anticipated as the most intense El Niño since 1997, this winter is forecasted to be cold, immensely wet, and mushy along the southwest coast, including Catalina.
So what exactly is an El Niño?
El Niño, or more formally called ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation), is a climatological phenomenon that naturally occurs every few years, altering climate patterns globally. Atmospheric and oceanic circulations become disrupted as easterly trade winds along the equatorial pacific weaken. As a result, upwelling off the coasts of Ecuador and Peru diminish leading to an inc
rease in sea surface temperature and rainfall around the eastern Pacific, and more drought conditions along the western side. During a normal non-El Niño year, the opposite occurs. Trade winds are strong, cold, nutrient-rich water from the ocean floor upwells along the eastern equatorial pacific, productivity is high, and conditions are relatively more dry.
What does this mean for the southwest and Catalina?
With an El Niño, California and the majority of the southwest typically experience cooler temperatures and more stormy conditions. Since this year has been overwhelmingly dry, the forecast for large quantities of rainfall will provide some relief towards the current drought situation.
Well if it’s not actually Godzilla, then why are we concerned?
As this years El Niño is anticipated to be the strongest on record, in conjunction with California’s current drought situation, the excessive quantity of rain is feared to cause a reaction of natural disaster events bringing devastation to the land and its surrounding environments. Increased susceptibility of flooding, along with land- and mudslides are expected, posing concerns of heightened structural damage, losses in property, and alterations within terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Looking into the life aquatic, higher than average water temperatures are, and will continue to chase away some of our natural residents and attract more of a warm-water-thriving variety of species.
As fall beings to age and winter quickly approaches, batten down the hatches, grab what you can, and run for the hills Southern California! Godzilla is coming!…. Or maybe call the Justice League???
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Written by John Cornett