We all already know that La Nina years the water temps are cooler, and El Nino water temps are warmer. La Nina is supposed to be less active for the East Pacific, and El Nino is supposed to be more active. The Atlantic is of course the opposite from us (balance, yin/yang) It seems most do not pay much attention to neutral years in terms of pre-season worrying if we should get our panic on.
Blue is La Nina, Red is El Nino, and Grey is Neutral.
So I’ve been working on a theory while doing a teeny bit of research. Just summarizing here as I work this out in my head and the blog is me thinking out loud. This is not an accurate post as much of my info I’m grabbing off of Wikipedia. I’m summarizing by looking only at storms that either directly impacted us or got our serious attention so if any of these storm names are of interest … Google.
2017 was neutral until winter. During the summer we got Tropical Storm Lidia and while it can be argued on the total rainfall for the region, San Jose got a minimum of 12 inches of rain. Regardless of the actual rainfall, it was devastating to our region.
2016 started off in El Nino with a brief neutral before going into La Nina. Javier made landfall as a Tropical Storm near San Jose in August when we were transitioning from Neutral to La Nina … Hurricane Newton was a Cat 1 storm that made landfall near Cabo San Lucas during the cooling trend that brought us La Nina.
2015 we were El Nino the entire year. Scary start for us as Blanca (the earliest recorded storm to make landfall in MAY oh my) approached at a Cat 4 and missed Los Cabos but still made landfall in Baja Sur as a Tropical Storm. Close enough to us in Los Cabos to get a nod in this blog. That was the storm that ripped my brand new hurricane fabric window protection right off my house. Yes, we upgraded to real window protection after that storm and got our money back. Hurricane Sandra gets a mention for another close call as she had been a Cat 4 but passed south of us as a Tropical Storm.
I don’t even want to talk about 2014 in regard to the weather. We were in a neutral phase until the very end of the season/year. Our ocean produced 22 storms 16 of which became hurricanes and 9 of those were Cat 3’s or stronger. Anticipating an El Nino we were given a forecast, ” On March 12, 2014, the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN) issued its first outlook for the Pacific hurricane season, expecting a total of fifteen named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. A month later, the agency revised their outlook to fourteen named storms, seven hurricanes, and five major hurricanes” Of course there were other predictions … Cat 3 Hurricane Norbert was a close call as it passed us as a degraded to a Cat 1 and before we could take a breath of relief were hammered by Odile. Odile was a Cat 4 that came at us as a 3 in wind speed but a 5 in air pressure. Did I mention 2014 was a neutral year?
2013 was a neutral year. We barely missed Cat 1, Hurricane Erick. We met Tropical Storm Juliette which I’m sure gave long-time residents flashbacks just because of the name (In 2001 there was a Hurricane Juliette that happened during a neutral cycle. The storm stalled off of our shore for days and produced extreme rainfall that was devastating … I think Lidia from 2017 will be the new name to give people jitters with memories of horrific flooding). Then we met Tropical Storm Lorena.
2012 was neutral during storm season into winter. Tropical Storm Normal decided our beer was not cold enough and did a wide circle bypassing us in Los Cabos with regards to landfall Paul thankfully wasn’t interested either. So there were Baja Sur landfalls of at minimum gale-force winds in our state but not direct hits.
2011 was mostly a La Nina year. No close calls to Los Cabos.
2010 started as El Nino, the brief transition to neutral before chilling into La Nina. Tropical Storm Georgette. I do not recall the storm but it was listed.
2009 was a very active year in the ocean as we went into El Nino June/July/August. Cat 4 Hurricane Jemina gave Los Cabos a scare. We met Tropical Storm Patricia and Rick – a Cat 5 for a time, passed south of us as a Tropical Storm but did not come close to landfall that I recall.
2008 was La Nina with the exception of the hurricane season where we had neutral conditions. Tropical Storm Julio. Tropical Storm Lowell. What is it with storms named Norbert? For a while, it was a Cat 4 and bypassed Los Cabos by did make landfall I believe, as a Cat 2. ” Norbert was the first October hurricane to strike the western Baja California peninsula since Hurricane Pauline forty years prior, and Norbert was the stronger of the two.”
2007 was a mixed year but when it counted (hurricane season) we were in La Nina. Hurricane Henriette was a Cat 1. Hurricane Ivo tapped out.
2006 Another mixed year but during the hurricane season we were in El Nino. Cat4 Hurricane John made landfall in our region as a Cat 2. Hurricane Paul was a Cat 2 that passed south of Los Cabos as a Tropical Storm.
I could keep going and maybe will someday.
We sadly, depend on these storms to bring us rain as we do not get much-needed rain to fill the aquifers in the mountains.
The lesson is this. There is almost always a storm that will at minimum get close to our region and it doesn’t matter if it is El Nino, La Nina, or if we are in a neutral cycle during hurricane season.
But please offer your thoughts … do you see a pattern? I’m thinking I am not a fan of neutral. Being as I am not an expert … pay zero attention to me. I haven’t even made a spreadsheet on this … yet. (it’s now 2023 and I’m still working on it 🤷♀️ and maybe one day I will edit this to include more recent years)