Tag Archives: Pineapple Express

MidWinter El Nino Update

A lot of ominous story lines were written about the coming monster El Nino for the 2015/2016 winter season. Those of us in drought-stricken California were bracing ourselves for an onslaught of rain that may not have had an equal. Well, there’s a bit of good news and bad.

Cold – No big rains

In Paso Robles, we awoke to plenty of icy conditions in December of 2015.

In Paso Robles, we awoke to plenty of icy conditions in December of 2015.

The good news, to some degree, is the otherwise normal winter we’ve had here in the Golden State, especially in wine country on the California Central Coast. December started off with its usual cold snap that had us regularly in the 20s with several icy mornings. Day time high temps hovered barely in the 50s, but otherwise there was a little cold rain here and there – that was it.

As the holidays slid by, the temperature started warming up and with it, more rain. It might sound counter-intuitive to think El Nino and its rains would drive temperatures up, but rather than getting storms from a normal northwesterly track out of the Pacific Northwest and Canada, El Nino draws warmer climes from the Central Pacific. By the way, our mountains – the Sierra Nevadas – have been hammered with snow this season, which is definitely a good thing, considering Californians get a majority of their water from the mountain snow runoff.

This is suppose to be a huge El Nino year, however it hasn’t been the typical drum beat of a driving rain storm after driving rain storm. We have received an average amount of rainfall, which has made it easier on the land, so as not to wash away and erode the farms and vineyards of its valuable soil.

Currently, we just had a mini gullywasher and are expecting showers near the end of the week. Yet, the last week of January looks relatively warm and sunny with highs possibly reaching 70. Heck, get the suntan lotion out, it’s summer! Yeah, not so fast.

About that bad news

Godzilla

As January folds into February, which is our wettest month, there are plenty of signs the Godzilla of all El Nino’s is coming onshore. The first full week of 2016 saw a modest set of back-to-back storms reminiscent of El Nino. According to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert, the the rest of winter and likely the first part of spring are going to bring us monster rains (source: L.A. Times). Or as Mr. Patzert puts it of the earlier storms:

“That was a trailer for the movie.”

Essentially what will be happening is the jet stream will come down on to the southern half of California and started sucking every storm from the Central Pacific and tropics in what we call the ‘Pineapple Express’. Think of it as a river of storms pulling moisture all the way up from Hawaii to California.

Whether we receive the predicted record-breaking numbers of rainfall with help from the Pineapple Express, remains to be seen, but regardless, we will see an increase in precipitation over the next couple months.  And with that, should tamper down the drought conditions along with greening up our beautiful rolling hills of Paso Robles.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of rain – I grew up in L.A. I’d look terrible in heels, so I’ll clink my beer mug or wine glass because I’m thinking suntan lotion … I’m thinking there’s no time like summer, there’s no time like summer, there’s no time like summer.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Wear A Jacket

“I study nuclear science, I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher who wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing all right, getting good grades
The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades”

… a jacket, galoshes and an umbrella. This twist on a one hit wonder song (by Timbuk 3), invokes what many in California – especially here in wine country – have been in dire need of: rain.

El Nino

Weather is hard to figure out for a simple one week forecast let alone, what’s going to happen a few months from now. However, from almost any quadrant of the weather world, experts and prognosticators alike appear to agree that a significant El Nino is here and later this year as we head into winter, heavy rains will drench California. The last time we had a powerful El Nino was a couple decades ago, and scientist feel 2015 and into early 2016, will be possibly bigger.

Now, 1997-98 was a bad year rain-wise, and was considered the most powerful in recent history. It wreaked havoc on a majority of Californians, especially in the southern half of the state. I personally remember many days in-a-row of rain in Los Angeles and Orange Counties that year. Often what happens is what we call the Pineapple Express, where almost a river of rain from the Hawaii Islands and the tropics just streams into California bringing one storm after another with no distinct breaks. Mudslides prevail, rivers overflow as do dams as well as street flooding that can inflict devastation. It’s not unusual to get a solid weeks worth of rain due to the Pineapple Express’ steady and incessant drenching.

Washed out track

The problem with hoping for rain – too much can devastate the area.

What is happening is a high air surface pressure in the Western Pacific (think Indonesia and Australia), helps to create a change in water temperatures with the Eastern Pacific along South America increasing warmth in their waters (i.e. Peru). Ocean temps here on the U. S. West Coast get warmer and right now that is evidenced by our waters here along the San Luis Obispo County beaches running a few degrees above normal.

All signs lead to rain

I’ve been told by weather folks that windier and warmer weather can result during the summer previous to an El Nino winter. Well, it has been windier and warmer here on the California Central Coast. We’ve also had a few monsoonal flow rain storms this summer that usually don’t appear until late summer if at all in Central California. Warmer waters aids in the draw of moisture from Mexico and the Desert Southwest.

The golden rolling hills of Paso Robles are tinder dry and in need of rain.

From every angle, it is becoming obvious that wine country here in Paso Robles is going to get their rain and then some. Still, what does this mean for the local citizens and farmers? Rain is needed first and foremost, so inconvenience, which may mean flooding and destruction can and will likely be heading our way. Once grapes are harvested in late summer and early fall, little damage can occur to the vines. Yet, fall and/or winter crops in the region may be in for more than they can handle.

We need the rain and from what the forecasters report (or guess), we will get it in droves. In the long run, this is a good thing, as California comes off one of their most severe droughts in history, which in-turn has ripped the state apart. Feast or famine seems to be the word of the day, week, month, year and even decade for those of us in California.

The future drought situation here in California looks bright. So get out the sunglasses because you better wear shades … while still possible.

Additional source: El Nino: Local Phenomena, Global Impact

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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http://pasowinebarrels.com/