Monday, June 15, 2015

Could Blobs on San Francisco Area Beaches Mean an El Niño is Developing?

Will the 2015-16 Bay Area winter be a very wet one?

Tom Stienstra  at The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The sea temperature was 56.8 degrees Sunday at the weather buoy 18 miles west of Lands End. That’s up from 51.8 degrees in the first week of April.

Could this be the Bay Area’s start of an El Niño temperature tantrum on the Pacific coast?

With the arrival of purple, slug-like blobs from Mexico to wash up on the eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay, it looks as if the answer is yes. Two dozen of the blobs, as big as 30 inches across and 15 pounds, were counted along Oakland.

On the bottom of the ocean, sea slugs — formally called California sea hares — look like underwater snails without shells. When they wash up, they look more like amorphous blobs. They live along the Pacific coast from Northern California on south to Mexico, more common off Baja than anywhere.

Their life span is about a year. With such a short life, their instinctive choice to venture north to the Bay Area coast could foretell a warming sea.

Nature and its creatures often provide the best long-term weather forecasts. At times, meteorologists have announced El Niños, but that didn’t trigger the migration of species north from Southern California and also didn’t create weather change.

The big El Niños, in which we received flooding rains and huge snowpacks, were foretold by the arrival of out-of-town exotics in the sea.

The biggest event was in 1982-83, summer through winter. By late summer, bonito from L.A. were caught at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the bay, and friends of mine, Abe and Angelo Cuanang, hooked a marlin at the Farallon Islands. Then it rained so much that winter that San Francisco Bay turned to freshwater and someone caught a catfish (from the delta) in the bay.

In one 36-hour period, the Santa Cruz Mountains had 25 inches of rain, Tahoe 8.5 feet of snow (and for the winter, more than 40 feet).

The best El Niño forecast that year came from fishermen, who caught bonito, barracuda and marlin on the Bay Area coast for the first time in history.

I was in San Francisco for one El Niño year when it rained during the entire month of February,every day, all day, downpours.

 El Niño year's also do very funny things to crops. Stay tuned.



  1. Is that just Northern California or the whole state? in a vein of black humor, it hosing down while in while the southern part becoming a desert... well you know.

  2. Maybe you'll finally be able to shave in the locker room without getting harassed.

  3. From: :
    ...everybody talks about El Nino and La Nina and accept they are caused by ocean current reversals, but suface ocean currents are created by wind, so the wind has to reverse first. But what makes the winds reverse? The upper level tropical easterlies have to weaken, stop, and start blowing in the opposite direction. What causes that? Van Loon and Labitzke showed correlations between sunspots and El Nino, but what was the mechanism?

    Similarly, the Jet Stream shifts from Zonal to Meridional Wave patterns, but what causes that change?

    Most of the considerations overlook physical causes, particularly wind, whether as advection within the atmosphere, or the solar wind impinging on the magnetosphere and the atmosphere.

    From: :
    The possibility that something internal to the Earth affects climate was raised by Daniel Walker first in 1988 and then again in 1995 and 1999. He pointed out that increased tectonic activity (seismicity, magma upwelling and hydrothermal venting) along portions of the East Pacific Rise (EPR), precede (by up to six months) each El Niño event studied since 1964. The association was so significant that Walker called the increased seismicity along the EPR “Predictors of El Niño.”