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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 1:38 am | Fair 41º


Captain’s Log: Not Out of Waves Yet…El Niño’s Still Coming For You

At a meeting of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, where I represent recreational anglers, the National Weather Service (NWS) sent a representative to give a presentation on past El Niño winters, how this one is stacking up against the others and what is expected ahead. Here is some of what stuck with me.

The bad news is that we have the lowest January rainfall total of all the El Niños represented in graphs going back about 50 years (we get an El Niño about every 10 to 12 years on average).

That bad news is mitigated, however, by the fact that most of those wet winters had low January rainfall. And while this January is the lowest, the range upward isn’t very many inches of rain.

When the Powerpoint chart of rainfall rates from all of the El Niño winters (each with its own colored line) went up, my eyebrows shot up, I whistled softly and muttered, “Batten down the hatches, me hardies!”

Every one of those lines turned towards the sky and rapidly climbed the axis representing inches of rainfall during the month of February. Then many of them flattened somewhat in March, but at already high levels of seasonal rainfall.

The line for this year, which wasn’t yet quite out of January looked poised and ready to skyrocket. That chart made me decide go shopping for some new rubber boots and a raincoat!

The presenter also talked about two Waverider buoys that are going to be removed when their batteries die, which may be as soon as a month from now. These are maintained by the California Department of Boating and Waterways (CDBW).

One is the Goleta Buoy, which Santa Barbara and Goleta area boaters, surfers, kayakers, paddleboarders and swimmers check to see the size and frequency of waves before deciding whether to risk it.

The other is the Anacapa Passage Buoy, which folks check closely when heading out of Ventura, Channel Islands or Port Hueneme harbors.

Can we do anything to keep from losing these safety resources? Yes! Just email, write or call the CDBW and let them know you want them to keep maintaining the resources we depend upon to make safe decisions when planning to take to the sea.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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