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Weather Summary and El Nino/La Nina Reports From Pacifica
Updated 07/03/98

7/03/98   Cool, cloudy and damp weather continues with frequent drizzle and overcast. While only .25" fell during the entire month of June, rain was measured on 5 different days-quite a bit above the average of 1-2 days! The first days of July have been no different with drizzle every morning noted at my house. La Nina has finally started to show her face, as local water temps are finally approaching normal at 55-56F. SST in the Central Pacific is now over 7F below normal in the same areas that were 7F above normal only 6-8 weeks ago. Temps much below normal continue to impact the area and the state, with only upper 50's to low 60's along the immediate coast. Fog and low clouds generally have dominated the local scene, as is typical of Summer in the Bay Area, except the northerly flow aloft (and frequently at the surface), has kept temps much below normal elsewhere in the state, especially  in the mountains and the Central Valley regions. Despite the lack of sun, temps are actually quite near normal here on the immediate coast (mean temp for June was 58F).
5/23/98 As we finally wind down our rainy season, El Nino's effects are still noticeable - and may in fact be re-intensifying a tad. Along the immediate coast, we have a very "mottled" ocean color, as purplish warmer water has returned and with some erratic NW onshore winds, pockets of upwelling water (light green) can be seen for miles out to sea. A number of folks have noted (from a previous report of mine) that onshore winds typically do not cause upwelling -  but in fact depress thermoclines, such as off South America during El Nino events. However here along the immediate Central Pacific Coast, northwesterly onshore winds (which originate in chilly air over the Gulf of Alaska and kept chilly by the cold water Japan Current) causes enough turbulence and cooling of the immediate surface water to allow for ocean "turnover". It is a primary reason for the incredible abundance and diversity of ocean life within a few miles (<50 ) of the West Coast. The Gulf of Farralon, approximately 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco, hosts some of the largest bird and sea mammal concentrations anywhere...due in large part to unusual sea floor variations and local upwelling water nearby that brings to the surface nutrient rich cooler water from below which support huge populations of  krill, plankton, anchovy, squid and other baitfish. Usually, as the summer progresses and fog and low clouds dominate, strong onshores first peak in early summer then slowly subside. By August, the water color changes from light green to purple, and algae blooms called "red tide" often occur..which also heralds the end to the local sport fishing scene. This year the warmer water is already here and the upwelling zones are easily identified. Not just coincidentally, this has been a very poor offshore sport fishing season so far, with few salmon (and most of them small) being caught (after three record/near record years in a row). While some fish are now being caught nearer the surface in   localized areas, most are caught very deep-- often over 200' (which reflects the continued general depression of the thermocline ). With the lack of available food supplies near the surface, juvenile sea mammals such as seals , porpoises, and sea lions are being rescued at near record rates..mostly due to malnurishment. An astonishing site yesterday was a small herd of Pacific Dolphins wallowing along the shorebreak at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica acting confused and lethargic. Normally, these animals are not seen until later in the summer when they are drawn to the coast to feed on anchovies  moving towards the beaches to spawn. While some bait has been reported in the area due to the limited upwelling noted above, concentrations are far below normal and my guess is the outlook for the entire summer looks bleak. Weather wise, this has been a very quiet week, with only light rain to our north and none down here. Overall, the fog and low clouds that should be dominating the scene by now has been spotty and localized...reminds me of 1983, or as Herb Caen wrote "The summer without fog". Normally, our fog is formed by warm air to the southwest condensing over cooler, west coast waters then being drawn inland by thermal lows in the Central Valley. But with the anomalous continuation of our rainy season, temps inland have not warmed as usual and hence fog is reduced. An interesting final note: I heard that numerous ski resorts are planning to re-open for Memorial Day due to still almost unbelievable snow packs. Normally, the Sierra snowpack would be on a rapid decline by now, and high elevation lakes starting to unfreeze. My current guess is that many of the highest elevation lakes will unfreeze as much as 4-6 weeks behind schedule due to cool air aloft and heavy, late spring snows---an amazing paradox to the "warm water" effects typically attributed to "El Nino" (ENSO).
5/15/98  The Emergency Broadcast System was activated on 5/11 at 1650 for a Tornado Warning for the Fairfield area just east of the immediate Bay Area. (no damage was reported). Another Funnel was reliably spotted very near my childhood home in the hills of San Bruno, overlooking San Francisco Int'l Airport (5 miles from my current "over the hill" home in Pacifica).  So this time it was my wife who was within a hailstone of a Tornado. She was much less thrilled than I was last week.. By late in the afternoon, the upper low anchored directly overhead, and surface  winds for almost 6 hours was dead calm with a "shower"  that did not move one iota for over 2 hours ( .22" rain).  The cloud position was so stable that we had the longest - lived rainbow I had ever seen, as clear skies to the west continually let in golden evening sunlight underneath...and with the hills vibrant shades of green and gold, it was almost like a shower in Hawaii. On 5/10 local news was showing snow falling on Mt Diablo in the East Bay (3.4K'). In the Sierras, snow up to a 2.5' fell and 6 inches at Lake Tahoe was reported. On 5/11, San Francisco set a new record for # rainy days in a season with 109. The old record was set in 1889-90 (or 109 years ago!). What a coincidence. With more light rain in the last few days, , we now have 111 days of rain...and counting. With more rain expected, annual rainfall in San Francisco is now 45.70" and within a few tenths of becoming the second wettest winter on record . Another interesting note: as often is the case when a core low stalls overhead, migratory birds concentrate in the center of the lows to avoid the heavy outer winds. Hence, rare and unusual bird sighting frequently occur during this time..and 5/11 was no exception. Courtesy of my attentive wife, a female Black headed Grosbeak and a Brown Cowbird were added to our "House List", which is now up to 61 bird species. Needless to say, any new sightings are exciting times around here! All courtesy of El Nino. BTW, Pacifica just "officially" passed 50" of rain. (my house only 2 miles from the reporting station has had 44.49").
5/09/98  It is not unusual for 2-3 storms a year to produce severe weather in Cent. California in early Spring, as cold air aloft pours down the coast and destabilizes ever warming air at lower elevations. What often results is upper level lows (which can occasionally cutoff) producing our classic "Pacific Cold Fronts" with wild frontal passages and even  snow levels down to <2K', often the lowest of the season. It is during this time of year that heavy T'storms w/hail, and the occasional cold air funnel in the Central Valley (some touching down as Tornados - almost always  F0's) erupt in unstable air behind these fronts . As Spring matures, the warm air eventually wins out, and our "dry" season sets in. In this El Nino year, I have noted approximately 20 Thunderstorm days within 100 miles of the Bay Area in 1998 alone...as many as we normally get in 3-4 years total. On 5/5, a reported Tornado touched down near Los Angeles, and on 5/4, an F2 Tornado hit only a few miles from where I work near Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley). Some significant damage was noted by  me in Sunnyvale, along with two other towns, Mountain View and Los Altos also getting minor hits along the Tornado's path. The NWS estimates the intermittent touchdown(s) lasted over ten minutes and covered some 6 linear miles (my estimate).  By weeks end, after nearly six days of hanging off the coast, our ULL has finally moved inland, and severe weather there can be expected. After a few days of relative calm, another potent low appears poised to move into the area by early next week, with another round of severe weather possible. Note: San Francisco has just tied it's alltime record for rain-days with 107. With significant rains possible next week, the record appears in big jeopardy.

AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE  FORMATION OF THE SUNNYVALE T'STORM & F2 TORNADO OF 5/4/98.  The morning started with low stratus and light rain  throughout the region - quite similar to late spring  along the New England coast. During the late morning up to noon hour, intermittent bright sun and light winds raised temps in Silicon Valley to the high 60's and locally  to the  70's. Concurrently, a major cell was forming directly upwind SE of   the Mount Hamilton area, (the highest peak in the Bay Area  - 4,2000 K'). A major contributor to the primary cell's intensity was the perfect combination (and timing) of  a  cutoff upper low(s) anchored about 200 miles of the coast spinning in bands of cold unstable air mixing with tropical (El Nino influenced?) surface air.  By 1500, the storm   became active with C-C and C-G lightning and small hail was noted in East San Jose as the storm continued it's march directly over the still warm Silicon Valley. Peak lightning activity with 6 bolts (in my vicinity alone) noted in just one minute occurred around 1600, with larger hail noted (to almost 1/2"). Heavy, well defined  mammotus  and billowing side walls of the Cb visible along  sharply delineated clear air boundaries to the N and NW. Max tower height reported 34K'. Max straight line winds estimated (locally) to 35mph in gusts  By 1630, activity had significantly lessened and the underside of  the storm started to loose definition. Mammotus no longer visible.  On a hunch, I had brought my video camera to work and caught some large hail, thunder and lightning from the central and trailing edge of the storm. on tape. Unknown to me however, around 1635, a Tornado touched down on the opposite (NW) side  of the cell, and I was shielded by the rain! All my life I've wanted to see a Tornado, and living near San Francisco I thought I'd never see one...then suddenly there I am THREE MILES from maybe the most exciting storm of my life, camera in hand, and came up a hailstone short.  Sunnyvale was worst hit and the first touchdown point, with extensive damage to a number of homes over a few blocks distance. The Tornado then continued to hopscotch to the WNW and briefly touched down again in Mountain View and Los Altos hills, where only minimal damage was reported. The twister was videoed by at least three amateurs, and each appeared to indicate a  clockwise, or anti-cyclonic rotation. After initial ratings for the Tornado of F0-F1, it was later revised to F2, with peaks winds estimated to 120mph. Well better "Chasing" next time!

5/1/98   This year of El Nino continues to amaze. For most of this week calm, stagnant air dominated as high pressure anchored off the West Coast. However by week's end, a low on the western flank of the E Pacific High had driven to the coast from an unusually low latitude. position and is now poised to anchor off the coast and bring unsettled weather for the next few days. An interesting note, in addition to its position and track, is the abundance of cold, unstable air supporting it, with T'storms and high convective activity anticipated. Last night (4/30), leading-edge winds jumped from 15-20mph range to SSE gusts to 50mph  in less than a 30 minute period. A quick trip down to the beach  (3 miles away) revealed winds only gusting to around 20mph, so these heavy winds were apparently confined to a very narrow layer in the atmosphere. While rain and fog (100% humidity) was noted over Montara Mountain, a little over 2K' immediately to the south of Pacifica, humidity was only 39% at my house (a little over 500' elev). This form of air stratification is quite common in mid-late fall, but rarely seen in Spring due generally much more turbulent wind patterns.  In fact, earlier in the week, fog was  twice noted less than 1K' deep filtering well into the Bay  and surrounding San Bruno Mountain on almost dead calm winds in early morning. Again, this type of fog is more much more typical of our misnamed "Indian Summer" in mid Sept - mid October. Surf has generally been around 10',  though it actually subsided in advance of this current low, indicating the more easterly favored winds approaching the coast.. As of this posting, rain and gusty winds are continuing, with almost .10" from the last band of light rain alone at 0900.
4/24/98  Despite generally quiet and tranquil skies for most of the week, a disorganized low managed to form along a long trough attached to a well defined GOA low, then filtered in during the days of 4/22-23.   While not producing more than occasional showers in Pacifica and 0.12" of rain, a heavy thunderstorm, hail and a reported tornado touchdown occurred outside Sacramento causing some local damage.  With continued onshore winds, sea temps continue to gradually fall as upwelling intensifies and weakens the El Nino. More and more, the East Pacific High continues it's annual strengthening, but El Nino continues to pump enough moisture north to keep GOA lows intact and strong enough to continue spring storminess.  Another strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska may impact local weather to our north, but cool fair weather is expected in SF, with only a very slight chance for precip. The upcoming week should have a return to warm, dry temps followed by a cool down and another chance for light rain later next week.
4/18/98  With a resounding "bang", the enhanced rainfall aspect of El Nino seems to finally be over in Central California, as a series of potent, cold core lows brought record cold temps to many parts of California (43F in Pacifica)  and some of the most vigorous T' storm activity observed in many years. As a grand finale to almost three days of on/off wild weather, on Tuesday 4/14 , four well isolated Supercells  were observed lined up a row stretching from the west central San Juaquin valley to well north of Napa, a line well over two hundred miles long. This sort of frontal activity where only T'storms form is very rare in these parts. Most of our T'storms occur along the trailing edge of broad frontal zones/troughs, or in the cold unstable air that often follows Gulf of Alaska storms. In general, this type of storm pattern, which has been locked in for an unusually long three weeks now, heralds the transition from our "rainy" season to our "fog and low clouds along the coast" season. Total rain in Pacifica is now 42-47" (depending on which part of town) and many locations in California (mostly in the Central  and Southern parts) and the northeastern mountains are now assured of at least a 200%   annual precipitation total. Most other areas will total out at between 150 and 200% of normal. These frequent but relatively light precipitation events are just perfect for maximum spring foliage. Spring flowers and grasses are still in full bloom, in numbers and diversity rarely seen before. It seems as soon as one species of plant or tree finishes blooming, another species starts it's show. So far, due to the mild temps, spring flowering has been almost continuous for the past two months. Along roadways, hills and elsewhere, large splashes of multi-colored fields provide spectacular contrast to the now deepening blue spring skies. Once again, snow heavy enough to last a couple of days fell on the higher hills, down to the 2,500'. Once the last low pushed inland on 4/16, skies are now warming and fog is starting to form on the western hills facing the ocean, as the jet stream has lifted north. Lows will now likely follow a more northerly track with their southern flanks growing progressively drier as high pressure builds over the Eastern Pacific. Sea surface temp has cooled to around 56F, as strong NW winds caused some enhanced upwelling along the immediate coast, further weakening El Nino's effects.  
4/10/98  Three more lows all swinging down from the Gulf of  Alaska kept temps on the cool side (mostly 50's to low 60's) with intermittent light rains with some occasional downpours. Sea Surface Temperatures are locally 57-58F, or still about 2-4 degrees above normal. Striped Bass continue to be caught in good and increasing numbers along the Pacifica surfline, continuing an almost yearlong fishery. Normally these prized sportfish are only caught along the coast from May through Sept/Oct. before returning to San Francisco Bay in Winter and Spring. The fish that are caught are very bright and indicative that they never reentered the Bay this Winter. El Nino and the alteration of Natural feeding habits and food abundance is likely at least partly responsible. So, it would look as if El Nino's effects, although becoming more subtle with time, are still being felt. With calming seas, it does look more and more like our rainy season is winding down, although with all the convective activity, one still gets a feeling that "one more blast" is still a possibility.
4/04/98   With 41.64" already in the rain bucket for the year, we have now received rain on 12 out of the last 14 days, as a continuous trane of storms spaced about 36 hrs apart continue to rake the coast.  The trend of  fast moving and relatively drier storms has kept rain totals minimized., despite some particularly intense squall lines.  A moderate 1.24" fell in Pacifica over the last 6 days, with T'storms in the Bay Area (only once here) on 4 days, and snow was reported in the  local  hills above 2,000' on three separate occasions. Flash Flood watches were posted in the southern San Juaquin Valley  as massive storms blew up inland as cold GOA  lows/troughs track to the ESE.  These lows were sufficiently energetic to eventually trigger severe weather over the central part of the country, with tornadoes reported from Minnesota to Florida. This current storm sequence is  more typical of early/mid March instead of April, but certainly not unheard of, although the frequency of frontal passages is above normal. Local surf has calmed considerably, although 15' swells were noted briefly 4/01-4/02. We recorded the third lowest temp of the year (41F) on 4/01, with heavy but patchy frosts observed in sheltered valleys near my home on three straight days. I now expect fronts to continue to swing through for at least another few weeks, perhaps well into May, with gradually decreasing rain amounts with each wave. An interesting side note: As fronts eventually shift north and rainfall subsides,   increased flooding is still a possibility. High pressure building in back of the troughs are likely to produce above normal temps and offshore breezes in May and maybe into June. Heavy snowmelt from the Sierra's will be likely, so flooding along our main water ways such as the San Juaquin and American rivers is possible, along with high stress levels on the Sacramento Delta levee system.
3/29/98  This week was punctuated by a two lows, both with high convective characteristics. While rainfall in general remained moderate (.69" for the week in Pacifica), intense T'storms and funnels noted in several locations in Cent. Calif on Wednesday, with an unconfirmed touchdown outside Rio Vista in the Sacramento Delta and rains in the 1.5 to 2" category reported in the East and South Bay hills near the storm(s). Snow level dropped down to 2K' on Fri. night into Sat.in the immediate Bay Area with the second and colder low, although accumulations were generally under an inch.  Liquid water around  0.10". in most other locales as cold GOA low (more of a trough)   slid down the west coast, with an enhancing shot of energy hitting the area Sat morning. Severe storms noted along the coast and over the western foothills of the Central Sierra's. This morning saw the lowest temps of the season under clear, windless skies at 39F. Much frost on roofs and cars, etc. An interesting observation is that the local surf has actually increased instead of subsiding after frontal passage.. maybe a harbinger of a more mid latitude storm making bullseye on Cent Calif.mid week. The surf has been a fairly reliable indicator as far as the current storm track goes this winter. Will have to see if storms once again follow this period of increasing surf and SW direction. Note: There are conflicting media reports on the demise of El Nino..my take is that with the warm(er) waters off the immediately California coast able to recently support T'storms while land was generally not as active (which is highly unusual) local increased instability and higher Precip along the immediate coast is likely for the next month or so.  So, even though SST anomalies are subsiding hemispherically, local SST along the West Coast remains elevated, and rains well into April and May are probable. Overall, expect a lengthening of our "rainy" season by two-four weeks on average. 
 No rain this past week, with weather much more typical of April and early My. High pressure anchored over the EPacific forcing storm energy "up and over" leaving us warm and dry. Newest SST and heights show El Nino to be well on it's way out and becoming a "La Nina" (if models hold true). Interesting to note  that despite a return of waters off SAmerica to near normal temps and heights, a noticeable deepening and expanding area of colder waters in the far West Pacific is also present. As for our weather, it was nice while it lasted, but more rain and an El Nino-ish track (with tropical moisture) looming for next week. Models for upcoming period are differing in the amount of precip we will get, as the degree of weakening of our high pressure is in question. At one point heavy rains were expected, now two separate weaker cores are expected to skirt farther north before the whole trough eventually slides south around Wednesday.  
03/14/98  Shortwaves from the Pacific continue to hit every 48-72 hrs. The last one on 03/12, produced locally heavy rains along two well defined squall lines which pulled up stationary over the Cent Calif. Coast. Urban and small stream flood advisories were briefly in effect, as  rainfall near 3" was reported in the coastal mountains south of  The Bay Area, but with much lighter amounts to the north. Only .19" for Pacifica. No serious damage to report. Spring is in full bloom, and cherry trees are now finished with their wonderful show for the year. Temperatures nudged 70 for the first time this year, with a 69 recorded on 03/09. Surf has redeveloped after a period of below normal wave heights, with almost 20' swells hitting the Pacifica Pier again (about the same height as on the picture above). Beach erosion is continuing, and some beaches have lost over 10' in sand, revealing ancient tree stumps, wreckage and debris leftover from  when land was much higher  (or sea surface heights lower) than it is today.  On one beach up north, an ancient "forest" now turned tree stumps are now starkly standing many feet above the beach height, revealed after centuries of being buried in sand after an ancient, catastrophic earthquake caused the land to sink 10's of feet instantaneously. AH, THE POWER OF MOTHER NATURE.. To date, March rains total a measly .67" here...and this after a month of rains in February when we AVERAGED almost that amount EVERY DAY! (.50"). It still boggles my imagination how much rain we got. Outlook for next period is for continued impulses, but no heavy rain producers and seasonal to slightly above normal temps. As long as winds keep up, fog in the Valleys should be a problem, but it's possible some accelerated snowmelt may start at the lower elevations. April Wx continues to cause some concern, as some temporary shifts in the jet may bring in more storminess...more typical of March in a typical year. In fact, on average, March is the second rainiest month (after Dec) in Pacifica.  Interesting to note that in this, one of the rainiest years in recorded history, our two rainiest months have been much below normal for rain!. And don't forget last August, right after El Nino started to really be felt, we had heavy rains at a time of year when rain of any amount makes headlines..and we had rain on three separate occasions!
03/07/98  This is now officially the third wettest rain-year in San Francisco, and 2 + months left in the Rainy season. Two minor lows through the area this week, with 1st core low staying well to our north and the last one on Thursday coming in directly over the south Bay Area. Some unusual snow was reported in the local higher hills as well as isolated spots in the far northern counties of Sonoma and Marin.
   A most amazing sight (for this Winter), was a virtually dead calm sea on Thursday evening after passage of the weak low. With no surf, the new contours of the beaches really stand out, and the radical changes are easily noticed. Debris (driftwood, etc) leftover from high water marks a scant ten days ago, was well over one hundred  fifty yards inland in places,  reflecting the ultra-high dynamics of the beachfront.  By Friday (yesterday), surf was once again building, and shorebreak of up to 6' were present. But not all El Nino news is of disaster. Under brilliant blue skies, came lush views of our green hills around Pacifica. Grass and other local flora is exploding, and is by far the most pleasing of seasons for scenery - an almost tropical look with ferns and spring flowers in full bloom. Local streams and creeks are clearing , and newly carved channels provide stark reminders of rampaging creeks-turned-river torrents mere days ago. Spring flowers and cherry blossoms are everywhere, creating grand mosaics of color and promise of a bountiful summer harvest.  
   A continuing trend of weak to moderate systems is forecast for the upcoming week, and March in general has been anomalously quiet...it is usually our wildest month weather wise, with cold Gulf of Alaska lows sweeping down the coast bringing heavy, brief rains and frequent high convective activity behind the fronts. This current quiet period is more typical of what happens in Jan or early Feb, only to be followed by a return to Winter in a fierce way for most of early spring. Assuming that this current "dry" spell is part of the same scenario, only occurring later than normal, then a stormy April would be indicated. A somber note: Homes on the cliffs of north Pacifica, which have made world-wide news recently, have today begun to be demolished by their owners after a long, brave battle by many to save them. We all are saddened by their loss. Last count in Pacifica showed over 30 homes red-tagged as uninhabitable due to mudslides or erosion.
03/01/98  Current trend marked by drying skies as only light rain and winds from some overrunning moisture this last week. Surf has fallen to  "only"  10' or so, and cliff erosion  is subsiding, but not completely stopping. Moisture plumes from the tropics have eased, and a high bridge has formed between a continental high over the four corners area and the EPacific.This blocking ridge typically becomes stronger as springtime takes hold, eventually shutting the "storm door" completely around April/May. While I don't expect our rains are over (not by any means), the worst of this record El Nino may be over. As long as storms continue to move on through and remain progressive, we should have a chance to dry out a bit between storms. No major storms are currently forecast through the first part of March. See FAMOUS FEBRUARY for daily weather data on this record setting month.
02/20/98  With the added rains from this week's latest gully washer, a rainfall record for February has been just established in many parts of the Bay Area including San Francisco (12.53"), Oakland, Monterey and most places in between.  T'storms were once again embedded within and post frontal in association with another moist, cold core vortex max passing inland to our north. This latest storm continues our very unusual trend of high convective activity associated with Pacific storm fronts, with thunder/lightning and pea hail commonplace. Snow fell briefly on the higher peaks around the Bay Area, and the huge (but nowhere near record-yet) snowfall in the Sierra continues to pile up. Snowpacks close to 30' are reported in the highest mountains, and 20' on the slopes of the higher skiing areas. Total rainfall here in Pacifica has now reached 35.71" for the "year" to date (July-June) and 11.07" for February. Total annual rain average is roughly 23" here, about 19" over the hill at SFO Int'l and 20" in San Francisco. A benchmark indicating very anomalous rains is when 10" or more falls in any given thirty day period. With January rains of 10.35", this marks the first back-to-back 10" months in my memory (and my records). So far 21.42" has fallen in Jan/Feb alone, or roughly 90% of our yearly rain in just two months. Pacifica as well as other communities remains on Landslide Alert, and many homes are currently threatened to either have hillsides crash down or homes sliding down hills or cliffs into the ocean. Hundreds of homes have been "Red Tagged"  around Central California, and the local paper had three pages devoted to just listing all the problems and crisis areas here. Hills that have existed untouched by humans and are geologically hundreds or thousands of years old are slumping and sliding from the near continuous rains, and of course where man has altered the terrain above or below hills, slides have been more common (as expected). Major damage to beach front properties such as the famed Olympic Golf Course and serious beach erosion has taken place under the seemingly unrelenting surf which now routinely exceeds 20' and tides averaging FEET above normal. (see More Pictures From Pacifica ). With 8 days left to go in the month and as many as 4 more storms of varying strength due,  a record rain  total for ANY month is possible in many areas,--- and Pacificans as well as millions more in the Bay Area are keeping worried eyes to the skies. Interesting to note that despite the abundance of  "fresh" water from the skies, local beaches are closed due to very high bacterial counts, resulting from overloaded sewer treatment facilities and contaminated debris washed down from land. Surfers though, seeing record surf , feeling warm El Nino waters, and chasing almost holy "curls" and "pipelines" have been unfazed and continue their obsession with a fervor. The next week appears critical as many major local rivers are again at or near flood stage. And with the ground definitely at saturation levels, rivers can rise at incredible rates with only moderate rains. Unfortunately, rainfall in the next 3-5 days may dump up to 5" or more in wetter locations and 1-3" elsewhere (a somber note: the recent near-coast tracks and rainfall of storms and troughs have been tough to estimate accurately by computer models - even a slight change in direction of these lows can have significant impact on rainfall amounts).