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El Nino winter locales: Baja, Hawaii, S. Padre, Hatteras

 
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 1691

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 10:14 am    Post subject: El Nino winter locales: Baja, Hawaii, S. Padre, Hatteras Reply with quote

Hi Gang,

I just got off a conference call with most of our 15 Weatherflow east and west coast meteorologist where I raised the issue of winter wind destinations with a very high probability of a major El Nino.

Normally the effect of an El Nino on wind is an easy question to answer but this year we not only have a El Nino but also a massive unprecedented Pacific heat blob spanning much of the water between the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf of Alaska. This was largely responsible for the west coasts mild winter and the Gorges sometimes weird winds this summer.

We are also poised to enter a positive PDO which also heats up the eastern pacific. The effect of all of this on the El Nino is unclear. But having so much heat in the waters over which inbound storms have to traverse is bound to impact the weather and the wind.

Baja wind: During a typical El Nino the average winter storm track moves southward and the sub tropical jet stream moves over southern Baja. This means:

1. A shorter wind fetch for the El Norte winds since N. Baja is gets hit by storms more often. This in turn means much smaller average swell.
2. Less frequent high pressure in the 4 corners so fewer big El Norte wind days.
3. More days with high thin clouds streaming from the SW over Baja's East Cape so the La Ventana and especially Los Barriles see weaker heat induced local sea breezes. So fewer of those 15-20 knot days.
4. And fewer of the combo days where a weak El Norte and weak local sea breezes bring low 20's wind.
5. A better chance of seeing some light sprinkles in La Ventana.
6. If you are driving back in late winter be prepared for some road issues.

Storm tracks are high variable so we should see some spells of normal wind as the storms take a northerly track and high pressure lingers in the 4 corners. But every El Nino I have experienced in 45 Baja trips has been roughly as I described above.

All of this had a greater impact on windsurfing than kiting. And usually during an El Nino there are plenty of days up near the El Sargento hot springs where there is good 14-18 knot flat water kiting. The campground area is usually weaker during an El Nino since the local sea breeze front often stalls before reaching that far south.

Personally I am planning a shorter trip and following the average storm track before departing. The peak winds will probably be later in the winter.

There was lots of tropical storm and hurricane rain in Baja's East Cape this year so expect mosquito problems if you go very early season. Once the winds pick up the mosquitos vanish.

Hawaii trade winds: One well known impact of El Nino on Hawaii is an increase of hurricanes and a disruption of the trade winds. We certainly saw that this summer. In addition the Pacific Heat Blob caused an unprecedented curving of the hurricanes into the Gulf of Alaska. And all the air the hurricanes pumped into the atmosphere is coming down into the North Pacific High which is much larger than typical in Sept.

This winter El Nino means warmer water, increased heat and humidity and even late season hurricanes. Typically during an El Nino there will be long periods without trade winds. It also means persistent high surf conditions on the northern shores.

South Padre: The same sub tropical jet stream that will be over Baja's East Cape much of the winter will be over Texas. This means a wetter colder winter and more clouds and storm activity than normal. None of this is good for reliable wind. Like Baja there will be spells between the storms where you will have great wind. Check the storm track before planning a trip.

Mike



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Last edited by windfind on Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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kenmacdonald



Joined: 15 Apr 1999
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:15 pm    Post subject: hatteras? Reply with quote

Thank you for your words of wisdom, Mike! in another thread someone suggested Hatteras for spring sailing, any ideas on whether a big el nino is likely to mess that up too?
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 242

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

and any thoughts, ruminations or chicken blood for the winter in lake arenal would be appreciated as well!
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 1691

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ken,

Here are the thoughts of Jay and Shea our most experienced East Coast meteorologists:

"My feeling is the further one strays from the source (equatorial Pacific) of the El Nino, the less overall influence El Nino will have. From March until the early part of July, Hatteras rarely shuts off for more than a more than a couple day stretch. Massive down-wiinders in knee to thigh deep water, or carve it up in the Atlantic, butter or bumps, take your pick, they are right across the street from each other!

Strong NE'rlies early spring turn to strong Southerlies by mid to late spring with Westerlies mixed in between. Little of everything there."


Mike
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 1691

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi tstizzle,

The Lake Arenal has a complex response to an El Nino. I am not remotely an expert of this region but in theory the mountain slopes on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica have increased rain fall area during an El Nino. While rain fall decreases on the pacific side. Since the Lake is situated amidst the mountains it will have more clouds than typical to the east. The main concern is that Caribbean trade winds funneling though the mountains are what drives the lakes powerful winds. And typically those winds are weaker during an El Nino.

Mike
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windfind



Joined: 18 Mar 1997
Posts: 1691

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a pop article Weatherflow meteorologist and Gorge forecaster Benjamin Miller published several years ago about El Nino and wind:

http://dev.thekiteboarder.com/2010/03/el-nino-blessing-or-curse/

Make
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 242

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

windfind wrote:
Hi tstizzle,

The main concern is that Caribbean trade winds funneling though the mountains are what drives the lakes powerful winds. And typically those winds are weaker during an El Nino.

Mike


Nooooooooooo!!!!!!! Evil or Very Mad Crying or Very sad

thanks for that info, mike. i'll pack my bags with all digits crossed, and report back with the results. hope everyone else finds good wind on their winter travels...
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