Sunday, January 10, 2016

Surf's up, the science

"Currently Pacifica Pier is one of the featured photographs on the NOAA website," (Jim Wagner).  And although the photograph remains on there, NOAA offers an excellent explanation of periodic El Niño. and La Niña weather events.

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United Department of Commerce.

Image result for Pacifica Pier storm photographs
This is fun!
Image result for Pacifica, CA rain storm picture....  "King Tides occur several times a year around the U.S. when the moon is either new or full (aligned with the Earth and sun) and is closest to the Earth (perigee).  In California and much of the West Coast, they occur in the months closest to the winter and summer solstices. These alignments in space and time are fairly predictable, and so are King Tides. 

Image result for Pacifica Pier storm photographsOne difference this year is the occurrence of an El Niño, which NOAA predicts will be the strongest on record. Put simply, when there is an El Niño, sea levels on the West Coast are generally higher due to warmer, expanded ocean waters and changing weather patterns. Tides “ride” on top of sea level and are influenced by what is happening at any given time with climate and weather.  This means that normal everyday high tides are already higher because of El Niño. On days when there are King Tides, they become even higher.

Another factor to consider is coastal storms and waves, which can cause an increase in water level on top of the already higher-than-normal tides. If a winter storm coincides with a King Tide event in this El Niño year, the total water levels may be extreme, and impacts may be even greater.
Climate scientists predict that El Niño will peak sometime in January-February of 2016, meaning that Californians can expect these especially high tide events to last through the winter." Read more. 

Related NOAA videos and more, from the article El Niño Portal linked above:  El Niño and La Niña are predictable up to 9 months, 12/24/15, 2:40 minutes, and more. The NOAA prediction miscalculation of El Niño one year prior, 2014. Explaining the 2014 El Niño (thought to be similar to the 1997 "monster"), 3:28 minutes.

Related Pacifica, Coastside, Bay Area. ABC7 news/Matt Keller, 1/7/16, includes 3 videos which include Pacifica Pier area. "Dangerous high surf pounds Bay Area beaches." "PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) --The pounding rain may be gone, but the Bay Area is still seeing the effects of El Nino. A High Surf Warning will be in effect until 2 p.m. Thursday. Waves 15 to 20 feet high crashed over Pacifica Pier. The pier was closed and Beach Boulevard was blocked off to traffic, except for residents. The high surf makes for very dangerous swimming conditions and deadly rip currents. A Coastal Flood Advisory was in effect. At high tide, low lying roads, trails, park and ride lots, tidal flats and coastal underpasses all risked flooding. The best advice if you're out at the beach is to never turn your back on the ocean."  ReferenceCity of Pacifica/Pacifica Pier, Pacifica Pier, Facebook. 

Note Pacifica Pier and Beach Blvd. photographs. Girl viewing waves by Marco Jose Sanchez/Associated press, from The Guardian, UK, 12/13/15. Wave under Pacifica Pier by Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press from San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate/Tom Stienstra, 12/20/15. (Daily Mail, UK, 1/7/16, "Dive, Dive" article includes a similar photograph.) Wave hitting Beach Blvd 1/2011 from California Beach Blog, 10/8/13.

Submitted by Jim Wagner

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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