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