This year’s powerful El Niño weather system brought Northern California about 130 percent of normal precipitation, but only about 60 percent of normal in the heavily populated Southern California coastal plain.
California’s Mediterranean climate – cool and wet winters with warm and dry summers – has a high variability for rainfall. The southeast deserts receive less than an average of 5 inches in a year to the north coast can get over 100 inches in the same year.
Breitbart News reported in early May that Northern California’s massive Shasta and Orville dams are already at 96 percent of capacity — the first time they are full in five years. But the Central California dams are only about 50 percent full, and the Southern California dams are at barely 35 of capacity.
Although experts had anticipated that February would be the wettest month of the year for Southern California, because of this year’s El Niño miss, it was the driest in 30 years. The culprit for El Niño sidestepping Southern California is an abnormally large pool of warm water off the coast of Alaska, called the “The Blob.”
The Pineapple Express “storm trains,” which in El Niño years usually line up in January through March to bring torrential rains and floods to the southern deserts and coastal foothills, were sucked north by this giant “heat sink” to drench the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains all the way to Canada.
Washinton State, which already had the highest continental state rainfall with an average of 38.5 inches, has seen precipitation this year more than double. As we go to press, the state is again being hit with a series of storms creating high wave warnings, winds up to 33 knots, and torrential rainfall in the mountains.
El Niño will hang around through the early summer. Breitbart News reported in early April that the overheated Pacific tropical waters of El Niño are set to flip to a cooling phase that will say goodbye to the docile little boy called “El Niño,” and prepare for his rambunctious little sister, “La Niña.”
With the April heat content in the central Pacific dropping below the prior month for the first time in a year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a warning that the conditions are favorable for La Niña emerging within 6 months.
Although El Niño has a reputation for economically tearing up California, it is actually associated with mild weather for the rest of the U.S.
According to the “Global Catastrophe Review – 2015,” published by Guy Carpenter & Co. insurance risk consultants, 2015 global weather losses plummeted to just $30.5 billion, versus 10-year and 5-year moving averages of around $49.7 billion and $62.6 billion, respectively.
The eastern two-thirds of the United States experienced a very mild 2015 winter. New Yorkers on Christmas Day were wearing shorts and headed to the beach in 72-degree weather, while Los Angeles surfers headed to local malls to buy sweaters in 59-degree weather. As a result, insurance payouts also marked the lowest total catastrophic weather claims since the 2009 El Niño, and far below the record 2011 La Niña insurance losses of $126 billion.