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El Niņo: West coast and Baja this winter

 
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 817

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: El Niņo: West coast and Baja this winter Reply with quote

El Niņo and La Niņa have a major impact on winter and spring winds and weather in the Gorge, Hawaii, Baja, California. While on "neutral years" all these venues have reliable have more normal weather and wind.

This year looks like there is a chance of a mild to moderate El Niņo (details below) but it is instructive to summarize the average weather impact of this possible climatological event.

When full blown El Niņo develops in the Pacific the storm track over the USA west coast drops more SOUTH than normal. At the same time the North Pacific High moves much further south leaving low pressure over the N. Pacific. On the average this means:

Southern California: More storms and rain in the winter and has later and weaker NW clearing winds in the spring since the North Pacific High's surface NW winds are too far to the south.

Hawaii: More Kona conditions than normal. But with the North Pacific High further to the south the NE trade winds are less reliable than normal and have a more easterly direction.

Bay Area: About the same as Southern California with perhaps a bit less rain.

Baja: San Carlos, La Ventana and Los Barriles:

San Carlos: Normally dry Baja Norte gets significant rain meaning it can be very difficult to get into or out of San Carlos. And there is a chance of flooding or bridges being washed away.

La Ventana and Los Barriles: The big winds on the east cape are caused in large part by the high pressure that moves into the 4 corners (where all the square states meet) after a storm has exited eastward after hitting California.

In an El Niņo year this high pressure in the 4 corners is much less reliable so Los Barriles and La Ventana are less likely to have El Norte winds to combine with their mid teens local sea breezes to bring low to mid 20's wind. In addition the huge swell that you expect in Baja hinges on the long fetch down the Sea of Cortez. And without El Norte winds blowing down the entire length of the Sea of Cortez the swell is smaller.

The Gorge: The Pacific Northwest has less rain/snow than normal. In the spring and summer the wind starts a bit later than normal since it takes longer for the North Pacific High to climb up the coast from the south.

So what are the chances of an El Niņo this winter especially in Baja?

This summer has seen lots of evidence of an El Niņo developing. Since summer there has been a slowdown in the development of El Niņo conditions in the tropics and the odds now are around 65%. The majority of the models indicate weak El Niņo conditions for this winter and some suggest that a moderate El Niņo could develop.

If there is a weak El Niņo then the average frequency of strong wind days may be barely noticeable especially to kiters. With a moderate El Niņo you can expect longer calm periods on Baja's East Cape especially at Los Barriles which is more dependent on El Norte winds. While La Ventana has stronger thermal winds so there is often kite action or big sail windsurfing even when rest of Baja's East Cape is near calm.

I will post an El Niņo update as more info. comes out.

You can also find lots of Baja information at my Baja Guide:

http://blog.weatherflow.com/baja-guide-by-mike-godsey/

Mike Godsey
iwindsurf.com



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Last edited by windfind on Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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MrFish



Joined: 04 Sep 2009
Posts: 238

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're confusing Climate with Weather.

That's why the link you put up is from the 'Climate Prediction Center', not the 'Weather Prediction Center'

In addition to that, it is still not certain there will even be an El Nino (downgraded to 65% when it was thought to be a sure thing earlier in the summer) and if there is, it is now predicted to be most likely a moderate or mild one, not a strong one, and those conditions are not expected to cause most of the effects claimed.

http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 817

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In addition to that, it is still not certain there will even be an El Nino (downgraded to 65% when it was thought to be a sure thing earlier in the summer) and if there is, it is now predicted to be most likely a moderate or mild one, not a strong one, and those conditions are not expected to cause most of the effects claimed.


Hi Mr. Fish,

That is exactly what my post says:

I said: "...there has been a slowdown in the development of El Niņo conditions in the tropics and the odds now are around 65%. The majority of the models indicate weak El Niņo conditions for this winter and some suggest that a moderate El Niņo could develop.

You are right, El Niņo is a short term climatological event but it is one that has a strong impact on regional weather. And the impact of a strong El Niņo on the average weather in different regions is well known.

I prefaced my comments about the regional weather effects by saying: "When full blown El Niņo develops..."

Then I just recited what typically happens in each of those areas with a full blown El Niņo. In a mild to moderate El Niņo those effects, as I stated, are weaker. And, as we both stated, there is a chance there will not be an El Niņo at all.

But I can see how listing the effects of a full blown El Niņo before stating that this one may be mild could be confusing. So I have edited the post so the "mild to moderate" is closer to the start of the post.

My El Niņo post was in response to the many e-mails I have received from customers who are asking if they should cancel their Baja trip because of the possible El Niņo. The take home message is GO TO BAJA. But if there is an El Niņo there is a chance of somewhat less reliable wind and smaller swell.

Mike Godsey


Last edited by windfind on Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
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airwave



Joined: 29 Jun 2000
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would "like" this discussion if it was on Facebook.
Tell us more !!!
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jpbassking



Joined: 19 May 1998
Posts: 2398
Location: Leo

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Water temps and recent hurricane swell reminds me of '97.
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MalibuGuru



Joined: 11 Nov 1993
Posts: 4395

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jpbassking wrote:
Water temps and recent hurricane swell reminds me of '97.


That was a great windsurfing year!!!
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anecdotally, last time we had an el nino, it was fantastic at lake arenal, costa rica. granted, that particular el nino was strong, if i remember correctly.

that make sense to you, mike? central american winds being affected by el nino? seems odd as those winds are moving in the opposite direction: african trades moving from east to west.
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 817

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tstizzle wrote:
anecdotally, last time we had an el nino, it was fantastic at lake arenal, costa rica. granted, that particular el nino was strong, if i remember correctly.

that make sense to you, mike? central american winds being affected by el nino? seems odd as those winds are moving in the opposite direction: african trades moving from east to west.


Hi tstizzle,

I don't know much about Caribbean trades winds. But it is well known that the El Nino climate pattern definitely impacts the weather in that area. First by enhancing the strength of the trade winds that blow over the Caribbean and ultimately funnel and venturi to Lake Arenal. And the same winds really increase the amount of rain in the mountains.

Really a great example how a climate event ends up having predictable impacts on weather.

Mike Godsey
iwindsurf.com
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that makes perfect sense. last el nino in lake arenal was accompanied by more rain than is typical.

fingers crossed for the winds this winter. hope yours in baja is great too!
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