Very warm waters off the California coast…

As a strong El Niño manifests itself in the equatorial Pacific, closer to home it’s of interest to note very warm waters nearby.

The image below from 9/21/2015 (From NOAA/NESDIS) shows sea surface anomalies approaching 5ºC (that is 5 degrees C above normal) along the southern California coast. Not all El Niño’s see this occur, but it is very noticeable this year.

In fact, the NWS in San Diego report the following water temperatures (degrees F) or this date at Solana Beach on September 23rd…

2015: 75
2014: 70
2013: 68
2012: 68
2011: 62
2010: 64
2009: 69
2008: 68
2007: 65

So this year’s water temperatures are well above what you would have seen in the years past.

Does that mean more rain for the winter? Well, maybe. Cold winter storm systems over the warmer water will mean increased water vapor transport into the atmosphere. If storms along a persistent storm track can lift that moist air to saturation and push it inland, we will have more rain.

But remember, historically not all El Nino’s mean a wet winter in southern California…

Jim Purpura
Certified Consulting Meteorologist

2015 Tahoe Science Consortium

Below are some images and downloadable program guides from the 2015 Tahoe Science Consortium at the University of Nevada, Reno where Dr. Elizabeth Austin, CCM of WeatherExtreme Ltd. gave her keynote speech, “Weather is Everywhere: From Specialty Forecasting to Solving Cases Using Forensic Meteorology”

2015 Tahoe Science Consortium Program Guide

Keynote Flyer

Dr. Elizabeth Austin, CCM- Keynote Speaker at Tahoe Science Consortium

Dr. Elizabeth Austin, CCM of WeatherExtreme Ltd. will be keynote speaker at the 2015 Tahoe Science Consortium at the University of Nevada, Reno today, September 21, 2015, at 2:30. Her speech will be “Weather is Everywhere: From Specialty Forecasting to Solving Cases Using Forensic Meteorology”. For additional information, visit:

An analysis on the Chilean Earthquake and Tsunami

On September 16, 2015 a magnitude 8.3 earthquake occurred about 29 miles off the coast of the city of Illapel, Chile. The earthquake resulted in 11 deaths in Chile and the evacuation of about one million people from the coastline in anticipation of a possible tsunami.
In fact a tsunami of did occur, with a sea level rise of as much as 14 feet observed in Chile. Although there was extensive waterfront damage, no reported deaths occurred from the tsunami. Part of the reason is improved warning systems put in place after the recent devastating tsunamis, including an automated system that notified many of the local residents by cell phone.
Tsunamis occur when an earthquake or underwater landslide displaces a large amount of water. Typically the earthquakes that generate dangerous tsunamis are “dip-slip” earthquakes, in which one piece of seafloor is displaced vertically with respect to another, such as when one tectonic plate is being subducted under another. In this case the Nazca plate is being subducted beneath the South American Plate.
Tsunami waves can travel long distances across the ocean with very little loss of energy, so even very distant shorelines can be at risk for tsunamis from large earthquakes. In the U.S., a tsunami advisory was issued for the Hawaiian coastline and parts of the coastline of Southern California. In Hawaii a tsunami of up to 3 feet was observed, as can be seen in this plot of tides in Hilo.


Here the blue line shows the tides that were predicted, the red line shows what was actually observed, and the purple line shows the difference. The appearance of the tsunami waves is obvious in this plot.
In Southern California, the tsunami was much smaller, but could still be seen on the tide gauges. The following plot shows the tide at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier in La Jolla, California.


While the amplitude of the tsunami is much smaller here—only a few inches—the arrival is still obvious by the “jittery” nature of the plot after about 5am local time. Another interesting feature on this plot is the relatively large difference (about 9 inches) between the observed tide and what was predicted. This has nothing to do with the tsunami, since it can be seen before the tsunami arrival, but is instead is associated with the current strong El Nino, which has raised sea level in many places.