Coast This Winter



Windstorms at the coast can happen during any ENSO phase. According to Washington State Climatologist, Nick Bond, a “strong EL Nino tends to get more wind storms. Weak to Moderate EL Nino phases are a real mixed bag. Tend to get fewer storms out of the NW/Gulf of Alaska, less shortwaves in general”.

Video above is from December 2014, a recorded weak El Nino year. From the video, a weak wind storm and mild conditions occurred. This is partially because of those fewer storms out of the NW/Gulf of Alaska that Climatologist Nick Bond suggested above. 

What happens to local fisheries when the sea surface temperature is 1 – 2 degrees warmer than normal?

Bond says, “Right now our water temp is near normal but on the warmer side. Water temperatures are forecast to be warmer by Jan 1st. This is bad news for the marine ecosystem. Favored prey for salmon can’t thrive since salmon will migrate more slowly. Sea birds & mammals in general thrive more in cold weather waters”.

El Nino winters of 1982/83 and 1997/98 were so devastating to the Pacific Northwest because of the warming ocean. According to Bond, “a higher sea level at the equator moved along the coast which influenced the storm track”.

Could coastal populations be displaced by beach erosion this winter?

According to Bond, the “City of Astoria, Clatsop County are prone to coastal flooding. Winds ramp up, ocean temperatures are a little warmer, sea level is a little higher than normal. Flooding tends to be more common in El Nino winters. Strong ENSO can cause sea levels to rise 8-10” higher. Weak El Nino about 1-3″. Beach erosion has to do with the number of storms we see. Whether we’ll see more storms during El Nino is always hard to say. However, storms tend to point to California in El Nino”. 

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