El Niño bears down as New Year begins – Giant waves, winds and rain headed towards California

Giant waves, winds and rain headed towards California

This Jan. 2 image of North Pacific winds from windyty.com shows storms winding down from the Bering Sea and heading straight towards California. Photo Windyty.com
This Jan. 2 image of North Pacific winds from windyty.com shows storms winding down from the Bering Sea and heading straight towards California. Photo Windyty.com

By Rich Holland

The Pineapple Express is picking up steam and it’s not another Seth Rogen movie. Nope, it’s El Niño baring it’s teeth and fueling a succession of storms across the North Pacific and headed for the California coastline complete with giant waves, gale force winds and heavy rains.

Perhaps no weather event has been as hyped as this year’s El Niño, but there has been good reason and plenty of evidence that the climate has been significantly altered by the influx of hot water along the West Coast of the Americas. Usually the big winter weather during an El Niño starts in January and continues through March. The timing seems just about right with the appearance of the storm systems.

As is typical of El Niño weather events, the coast of Northern California and the outer waters of Southern California will get the brunt of the gale force winds and monster swells. According to the National Weather Service, the “series of storms crossing the Eastern Pacific will bring periods of moderate to locally strong southerly winds…and large westerly swell to the Southwest California coastal waters through much of the coming week.”

Storms in a rapid series are a signature of an El Niño, bringing much needed rain, but often in overly large doses.

Look at the Southern California forecast for Wednesday, which is smack dab in the middle of the storms currently expected:

Wed
Wind S 10 to 15 kt with gusts to 20 kt. Wind waves 4 ft. Swell W 5 to 8 ft. Rain likely.
Wed Night
Wind W 10 to 20 kt with gusts to 25 kt. Wind waves 5 ft. Swell W 6 to 9 ft. Chance of rain in the evening…then rain likely after midnight.

Here we go.