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1997 CALENDAR YEAR REVIEW

1997 was indeed a most strange year on the Central California Coast. Only 1 day saw temps above 90 degrees (in May) and no reading below 32. This was a strong La Nina year early with below normal sea temps in the cent/east Pacific regions and offshore South America, then rapidly evolving into a record El Nino by August (both intensity and early onset). Early in the year, record flooding rains (26 days, almost 9", in Jan.) led to much below rains for the remainder of "The Rainy Season". La Nina years can result in much below rainfall (as happened Feb-June), so the flooding rains in Dec'96-Jan'97 were clearly anomalous. Peak wind gust for the entire year was during this time, with 59 mph clocked on Jan. 25. Temps remained mild throughout spring and coupled with the huge rains earlier, trees and plants all bloomed early. With below average spring rain however, grasses and undergrowth didn't do very well - which may have contributed to a below average fire season in May-Oct. The first real onslaught of El Nino was felt in July, when a prolonged stiff south wind resulting from an unusually strong cutoff (and persistent) low off the N Calif. coast resulted in gusts over 40 mph immediately along the coast and near 30 mph here. This wind, pushing warm water ahead of it, brought Tuna, Sailfish and a host of unusual fish (great for fisherman!) far to the north (Alaska) of their usual territory . Thousands of seals, sea lions, porpoise and dolphin were seen all together in numerous giant herds along the immediate coast , attacking baitfish in a near frenzy for a week right after the wind, then disappeared.  Record widespread rain occurred in August, as a series of 5 consecutive tropical storms followed similar tracks NE across the California/Mexican coast, with one storm producing .74" in Pacifica and over 3" in the wetter counties to our north. Not since 1976 had we seen anything close to this, when remnants from Hurricane Margaret produced over .50" locally. Hurricane Pauline, which hit Cent Mexico (especially Acapulco) in late summer, became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the East Pacific, again following the dominant 1997 pattern of forming off Cent America then drifting North and East instead of due West (typical). Heavy rains and mild temps in November got us off to a roaring start on our El Nino fed winter, but cool, dry NE winds set in during December (especially the last half), and resulted in much below normal precip and below average temps, despite the continued presence of El Nino. This pattern persisted until Jan. '98, when a classic, wet pattern started to set in (mild El Nino influence).

ANNUAL SUMMARY - 1997

Pacifica ,Calif.     ELEV: 540'     LAT: 37.36' N    LONG: 122.27' W

 Temp (°F), Rain (in), Wind (mph)
 

                             DEP.  HEAT  COOL                                          
        MEAN  MEAN        FROM  DEG   DEG                        MAX  MAX  MIN  MIN 
 YR MO  MAX   MIN   MEAN  NORM  DAYS  DAYS  HI  DATE  LOW  DATE  >=90 <=32 <=32 <=0 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 97  1  60.5  38.8  51.2   0.0   419     0  64.6  29  33.0   14    0    0    0    0
 97  2  61.7  49.0  52.8   0.0   328     0  69.7  15  41.8    8    0    0    0    0
 97  3  62.8  48.6  54.2   0.0   302     0  74.7  25  41.6    4    0    0    0    0
 97  4  61.2  51.4  55.4   0.0   261     0  72.9   3  41.8    1    0    0    0    0
 97  5  78.8  53.3  61.6   0.0   119    37  90.0  17  45.0    1    1    0    0    0
 97  6  62.4  56.9  59.1   0.0   150     0  71.1  24  49.1   23    0    0    0    0
 97  7  63.5  58.4  61.1   0.0    72     2  77.5  13  51.7    1    0    0    0    0
 97  8  69.2  59.9  64.1   0.0    20    29  81.7   7  54.6    5    0    0    0    0
 97  9  72.3  62.1  65.3   0.0    11    49  86.5  28  53.5   21    0    0    0    0
 97 10  72.7  55.2  60.1   0.0   146    15  83.2  16  48.4   11    0    0    0    0
 97 11  71.7  51.6  57.8   0.0   219    16  79.8   2  48.6    8    0    0    0    0
 97 12  57.5  47.4  52.2   0.0   384     0  62.5  30  41.5   27    0    0    0    0
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TOTALS  66.2  52.7  57.9   0.0  2431   148  90.0 MAY  33.0  JAN    1    0    0    0

                                

PRECIPITATION (in)

                DEP.   MAX        DAYS OF RAIN 
              FROM   OBS.          OVER
 YR MO  TOTAL NORM   DAY  DATE .01   .1   1
--------------------------------------------
 97  1  8.75  6.05  1.82   22   12   10    4
 97  2  0.39 -3.61  0.15   17    5    2    0
 97  3  0.65 -3.55  0.27   16    4    2    0
 97  4  0.91 -0.09  0.66   18    4    1    0
 97  5  0.31 -0.49  0.30   23    1    1    0
 97  6  0.25 -0.05  0.12   30    2    1    0
 97  7  0.04 -0.06  0.01    1    0    0    0
 97  8  0.74  0.64  0.54   19    2    2    0
 97  9  0.12 -0.18  0.10   14    1    0    0
 97 10  1.12 -0.38  0.75    9    6    2    0
 97 11  6.04  2.34  1.01   26   17   12    1
 97 12  2.82 -1.28  0.89    7   11    6    0
--------------------------------------------
TOTALS 22.14 -0.66  1.82  JAN   65   39    5

                                

WIND SPEED (mph)
                          DOM
 YR MO   AVG.  HI   DATE  DIR
---------------------------------
 97  1   3.5  59.0   25    N
 97  2   2.0  35.0   24    N
 97  3   1.7  44.0   16    N
 97  4   2.1  31.0    2    N
 97  5   1.5  21.0   24    N
 97  6   2.9  29.0   14    N
 97  7   2.1  23.0   28    N
 97  8   1.9  36.0    9    N
 97  9   1.7  23.0   28    N
 97 10   1.1  26.0   24  SSW
 97 11   3.4  42.0   19    S
 97 12   3.9  39.0   22  NNE
----------------------------------
TOTALS   2.3  59.0  JAN    N