El Niño Gains Momentum

The LA Times recently did a Q and A article with a number of meteorologists and experts in regards to what the brewing El Nino will mean for California. Below are some highlights from that, and our insight on its effects on our upcoming whitewater season.


  • Rong-Gong Lin II
  • Rosanna Xia


  • Matthew Rosencrans – Head of Operations for the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center
  • Bill Patzert- Climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge
  • Daniel Swain – Climate Scientist for Stanford University


Is there any chance El Niño will suddenly collapse?

Not really. There is a 95% chance that El Niño will persist through the spring, the Climate Prediction Center says.

El Niño is a warming of ocean waters west of Peru that can cause dramatic changes to the atmosphere, altering weather patterns worldwide. In the past, it has meant that the path of winter storms that normally keeps the jungles of southern Mexico and Central America wet moves north, over California.

That pattern has traditionally meant drought in Central America and southern Mexico, and a wet winter for northern Mexico and the southern United States. (It has also meant the best surfing season in a generation, from the coast of British Columbia to Costa Rica.)

When are the El Niño rains expected to come?

In 1983, El Niño rains came in earnest in January, Patzert said. In 1998, the biggest storms statewide didn’t kick in until February, he said.

Daniel Swain, climate scientist for Stanford University, said he suspects that at some point during December, the weather pattern will change, “and certainly by January, February and March we’ll see above-average precipitation — potentially well above-average.”

By then, Patzert said, Californians should expect “mudslides, heavy rainfall, one storm after another like a conveyor belt.”

Overall, what’s the outlook for the ski season?

It will probably remain the best ski season in years, because ski resorts are so high in elevation. “The really high elevations in the Sierra Nevada will do well,” Stanford’s Swain said.

What does this mean for our rafting season?

With the incoming storms, we’re expecting a return to a Kern rafting season, with good flows. We anticipate running all sections of the Kern river, including the Forks of the Kern, the Upper Kern, and even the Lower Kern. With that being said, we have to be careful with our reservation windows, and will slowly roll out our operating season into the latter part of the summer.

At this point in time, we’re encouraging guests to start planning their rafting trip now, and to consider April through July for dates. Reservations can be made online, or by calling 1-760-376-3370.

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