Just like the spring/summer season of 2014, this year (2015) is shaping up to be another warm water year…and it could be a REALLY warm water year.
The main reason? The drought.
Oh, I know there’s been talk about El Nino for quite a while now. Yes, weak El Nino conditions do exist along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, where a “true” El Nino is born. But like last season, not every warm water episode is El Nino.
The real deal is this: It’s been a while since we’ve seen a steady stream of winter storms to break us out of drought conditions. Those storms also help to churn up the water, disrupting the water structure and produce upwelling…a condition where cooler water from the depths rises up to replace warmer surface water blown away by the wind.
Just like last year (another winter season without a steady storm stream) water temperatures along the coast and well offshore are warmer than most of us can remember for this time of year.
Last winter’s Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly map shows the warmer than normal water in place that eventually led to our epic season:
The analysis from early April 2015 shows an even greater (warmer) anomaly off coastal Southern California and Baja California…anywhere from 2°-3°C above normal:
All the orange off the California coast, along with the schools of migratory pelagics that never left our coastal waters, leads me to believe this has the makings for one heck of a season!
I did a quick analysis of historical data from the ocean water temperature at the San Clemente Basin buoy, about 42 NM west of Point Loma. Over a 10-year period (2004-2013) the average water temperature for the first few days of April was between 59°-60°F.
Last year during that same time frame it was 62.6°F This year: 3° WARMER at 65.5°F!
To put that into perspective, back in 2012 we didn’t hit that mark until mid-July. Wahoo by July this year? I wouldn’t be too surprised.