“It’s large, it’s warm and, at this point, the drama is will the trade winds relax enough in the next two to three months to make this the El Niño of our generation?” ~ Bill Patzert, JPL climatologist
Our once lush backyard lawn disappeared last weekend. Now a dry streambed, banked with California native plants, “flows” through. Landscaping in 100-degree heat on those days was confirmation to why “going native” was necessary. We live in a semi-arid region with a growing population. Even during periods of non-drought, there is never a reliable over-abundance of water. With new drought tolerant plants, it takes at least a year to establish good root structures. We do our best to get them started, but a little extra TLC from Mother Nature is appreciated. May blessings of a moisture-abundant El Niño be with us.
Rain! Perhaps the single most uttered word this week. An unusual storm came together over much of Southern California early Tuesday. At 4 a.m. I was awakened by the sound of a steady rain falling. By day’s end, my gauge measured 1.94 inches. Amounts were all over the map, with a downtown L.A. total close to 2.50 inches.
Was Tuesday’s rain a precursor or an actual El Niño storm? Bill Patzert, a climatologist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “It has the El Niño footprint, but it’s not an El Niño storm.”
The National Weather Service offered this explanation: The storm was created when remnants of Hurricane Linda moved north from Baja California and collided with a low pressure storm system from the Pacific Northwest. The key or “El Niño footprint” here is that Linda was born out of the El Niño-warmed waters. As ocean waters warm, there are bigger and more frequent tropical storms (often becoming hurricanes) in the Pacific. Most summer storms are brief and characterized by isolated heavy rains over the deserts and mountains; in contrast, Tuesday’s rain fell moderately over a long time period and spread from San Luis Obispo County to Orange County.
If Southern California’s winter storms arrive – fueled by El Niño – we can expect rains similar to those we experienced on Tuesday.
Bill Patzert added, “[They will be] … more widespread, more continuous. Like a conveyor belt.”
To be continued. Next week: “trade winds and El Niño.”
Summer’s back albeit briefly. Lingering clouds and moisture are expected to disappear by Friday as high pressure establishes once again. In response, temperatures head toward triple digits for the weekend. Come Tuesday, cooling temperatures and tropical moisture move in.
Meteorologists remain up in the air on what to expect with a maybe mid-week rain prediction. My own down to earth speculation calls for rain showers.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.