There is no doubt as it relates to the presence of an El Nino affecting Southern California ocean waters. Two years of ocean temperatures warm enough to wear trunks and a rash guard into December, two venomous yellow bellied sea snakes washed up on Southern California Beaches, increased shark activity along the shore including incidents with Hammerhead and Great White Sharks, incredible fishing, rare whale sightings and the the second coming of red pelagic crabs in Laguna Beach are all evidence of warm waters driven by El Nino.
We have had a lot of weather so far this year. According to Irvine rain totals as of 2:00 pm 2015 rainfall totals measured in Irvine, California are at 6.49 inches and climbing as a slow and steady storm blankets Southern California with rain. We have already surpassed rain totals from 2014 in Irvine, and with 4.79 inches of rain falling in 2015 for Laguna there is no doubt that we have blown by last year’s totals on what should be a wetter than normal year. While we can expect Laguna Beach to have more rain than last year, El Nino’s wettest months tend to be January and February. This means that while we will surpass 2014’s rainfall totals but won’t power past the 14.39 inch average annual rainfall for Laguna Beach in the calendar year. Expect 2016 rainfall totals to be a higher than average rain year and to reflect the El Nino everyone now seems to agree is happening.
Powerful storms have also slammed the coast with dangerous waves and tidal surges causing flooding events. The Ventura pier took a beating with 20 foot waves that took several bites out of it and causing it’s closure. Some of the images that have come from that wave event show large waves swallowing a decent portion of the pier. They will keep the pier closed at least through winter to assess the damage and make plans for putting it back together. I have been predicting that this would be a year that piers would come down with the projected El Nino and the waves that typically come with the storms associated with this weather condition. Let’s all hope that Huntington Beach, San Clemente and the piers of San Diego don’t endure a similar fate. If this early season is any indication of what to come, they could be in trouble. OC Beach Park maintenance workers have momentarily won the battle with tides and waves pushing sand into the parking lot. This could be a year where waves are consistently in the parking lot which does put accessibility for beach visitors in question as Aliso Beach suffers from the determination of Mother Ocean when she is stirred up by El Nino driven storms.
My Laguna friend Gracie Wellsfry sent me a photo of a Red Pelagic Tuna Crab which normally lives at sea and calls tropical waters south of us home. You may recall that shores along Balboa in Newport Beach were covered in a half foot of crabs earlier this year in a rare event along the Southern California Coast. As far as I can remember, this is only the second red pelagic crab event that I have seen with the last one occurring in the 1990’s while body boarding at Manhattan Beach. 2 incidents in one calendar year is both unexpected and something I can’t recall ever happening. You will enjoy the picture Gracie took from Laguna Beach and a red pelagic crab comfortably resting in a muscle shell.