- Education and Science
2017 El Nino in Southern California
Causes of El Nino
Southern Carolina is expected to experience El Nino which is said to extend through this winter and also into 2017 spring season. El Nino is the raising of temperatures of the Eastern Pacific ocean in the tropical and the surrounding atmosphere. However, it is known to bring about global weather effects with changes in the degrees of hotness and coldness and precipitation patterns around the earth. El Nino also brings a positive impact as it helps in lowering the severity of hurricane season. This is believed to happen due to increased winds across the Caribbean and Tropical Atlantic. Most local effects though are experienced during the winter where a heavy precipitation occurs in most parts of southern United States.
El Nino has one phase, the Southern Oscillation that is also known as ENSO. The Southern oscillation has two phases, where one is a cool phase known as La Nina and a warm phase known as El Nino. The two phases alternate at inconsistent intervals of 1 to 4 years. The phenomenon is named after the Christ Child ("Nino" meaning young boy in Spanish).
Projected Impact of El Nino
The upcoming El Nino is believed to be stronger this winter than any other experienced in the recent history. In the past 60 years there have been six strong El Nino events. This is during the winters of 1957-1958,1965-1966,1972-1973, 1982-1983, 1991-1992, and 1997-1998. After studying the six events, it is clear that a heavy El Nino brings above normal down-pour to California during the months of December through into February.
The largest precipitation was in all events experienced in the coastal plains of South California which averaged 3.37 inches above normal. The heavy rainfall is said to be caused by the high amount of moisture that is lifted into the atmosphere in tropical eastern Pacific ocean. The strong winds in winter then carry the moisture to southern United States thus falling as rain or as snow in rare cases.
El Nino winters are also characterized by snow anomalies which are very hard to predict unlike rainfall. The largest snowfall was experienced in Florence and Columbia though most strong El Nino rarely bring about heavy snowfall in California. However, El Nino increases the frequency of wintertime low pressure systems with rainfall. These low system has has low chances of coming into contact with cold air that can cause snowfall in California. We should though avoid places which in past have been said to be dangerous like the flood zones.
The weather changes in winter and spring is also said to bring about big economic impacts. These impacts includes falling of the prices of fuels like, gas at the pump, home heating oil, natural gases and electricity cost. The prices of agricultural products and grocery products are expected to change. Salmon and some fish prices are expected to go up, orange juice is to remain unaffected. Vegetable prices are though expected to drop late in winter. The effect of winter locally will be that the cost on snow removal and salt for sidewalks will go up. However, the winter is coming as good news for those in restaurant and hotel industry as the business will be highly favored.
Do you live in Southern California?
The most important thing now is that every person should be well informed and be prepared. Many homes and institutions in the densely-populated Southern California are not prepared for this increased rainfall. There are severe risks for mudslides, flash floods and other related problems.
It is important that you have clean water for every person in your home (one gallon per person for 3 days). Have a flashlight and a pocket knife and a space blanket. Make sure that you keep all of this together and easy to access. Keep an eye on the weather and make sure that your car always has sufficient gas to travel if you need it. Reach out to family members and help them prepare for the potentially extreme weather patterns that we might experience in Southern California during the 2017 El Nino. With a little preparation, there is no thing to fear!