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drought,â&#x20AC;? says Mike Halpert of NOAAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Climate Prediction Center. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The drought outlook shows that some improvement is likely in Central and Southern California by the end of January, but not drought removal. Additional statewide relief is possible during February and March.â&#x20AC;? The â&#x20AC;&#x2122;82â&#x20AC;&#x201C;83 and â&#x20AC;&#x2122;97â&#x20AC;&#x201C;98 El NiĂąo months did bring lots of rain to the area, so there is hope that this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s El NiĂąo might be the drought-buster. The headlinegrabber from â&#x20AC;&#x2122;98 was in parts of Marin County, which got up to 90 inches of rain that year. Many cities and towns up and down the coast, and inland, experienced a doubling, or more, of their annual rainfall averages in â&#x20AC;&#x2122;97â&#x20AC;&#x201C;98, according to data from the National Weather Service. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was good snowpack in the Sierra, and if we had a repeat of those kind of winters, it would deďŹ nitely put a dent in the drought,â&#x20AC;? says Mantua. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wipe out all of our water-supply deďŹ cit, it wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t recharge all of the ground water thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been pumped out in the last four years and the last dozens of years, but at least it would help reďŹ ll reservoirs and recharge our soils and get a snowpack established again in the mountains.â&#x20AC;? El NiĂąo was identiďŹ ed by ďŹ shermen in Peru and Ecuador as far back as the 1600s, not so much for its weather patterns as for its negative impacts on ďŹ shing. The warm waters shut down nutrientrich upwelling, halting the plankton bloom and subsequently breaking the entire food chain. But El NiĂąoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s warm water can also mean weak upwelling in local waters too, which could mean poor reproduction this year for Dungeness crab, which are also being plagued by the blobâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s algae bloom of toxic domoic acid. The warm water isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t great for PaciďŹ c salmon either, Mantua says, which thrive in cold, upwelled water high in nutrients and a productive plankton community that includes lipid-rich copepods and other crustaceans like krill.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;During these warm periods we know that it can be stressful for top predators, including salmon, seabirds, sea lions and seals,â&#x20AC;? says Mantua. Salmon released from hatcheries, which produce most of the salmon caught off the coast of California, are usually ďŹ shed after theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been in the ocean for two or three years, Mantua says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;so it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have such a big impact on the season that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in, but two or three years down the road.â&#x20AC;?

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like all earthquakes arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the sameâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all floods arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the same, and all El NiĂąos are not the same.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Similar to past El NiĂąo years, blueďŹ n tuna, opah or moonďŹ sh, and bonitoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;marine life typical off the coast of Southern Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; are all currently swarming area waters. Since the last El NiĂąo, the Bay Area has experienced almost two decades of relatively mild winters, and Griggs points out that only a small portion of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residents were even here to experience the full wrath of an intense storm season. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like all earthquakes arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the sameâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all ďŹ&#x201A;oods arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the same, and all El NiĂąos are not the same. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not sure if people fully understand that,â&#x20AC;? says Griggs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think, in terms of ďŹ&#x201A;ooding, what people are doing is trying to clean out storm drains and get sandbags ready and make sure your roof gutters are clean, which helps the water get out faster.â&#x20AC;? Even so, â&#x20AC;&#x153;You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop sea levels from rising and you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop the waves from coming.â&#x20AC;? Additional reporting by Tom Gogola.

Profile for Metro Publishing

North Bay Bohemian  

December 9 - December 15

North Bay Bohemian  

December 9 - December 15