‘Super’ El Nino predicted by national weather lab; North Bay roofers, tree trimmers prepare

U.S. and global weather officials are predicting an El Nino winter that may potentially deliver almost five times the magnitude of a standard year based on winter weather model results released Sept. 26. The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder has officially coined the weather phenomenon marked by a warm water mass off the shores of South America as a “super” El Nino.

The Boulder, Colorado, weather lab supported by the National Science Foundation is comparing the potential seasonal event anticipated to hit December, January and February with the strong winters of 1982-83; 1997-98; and 2015-16. During those years in January, Santa Rosa received 8.3-, 10.7 and 10.8 inches of rain, respectively, the National Weather Service said Friday.

The normal rainfall total for that period is 5.7 inches.

“We were surprised. We knew we had an El Nino forming that was stronger than most, but this one could potentially give California much more rain than normal and knock the West out of the drought,” said Stephen Yeager, an NCAR project scientist and the lead on Nino 3.4 Index.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, a global weather research institute referred to as ECMWF, concurs with the forecast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a 95% chance of El Nino effects and a 71% chance of a “strong one.” NOAA latest update is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Granted, the precipitation level could go either way based on the latitude of the North Bay. But historically, El Nino years have been marked by monumental flooding, snow dumps in the Sierra Nevada mountains and downed trees.

Area roofing companies and tree trimmers have seen the effects as recently as last winter, when the season was labeled a La Nina year.

The Valley of the Moon Golf Course located in Sonoma Valley’s Oakmont development is having roof work done, after it sustained damage last year.

Many North Bay Roofing customers are wasting no time. Manager Kaitlyn Leslie said her company covering Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Lake counties is averaging between 30 to 40 appointments a day for roof inspections and repairs.

“We haven’t slowed down yet (from last winter),” she said. “And we are advising people to do it now.”

Mike Brodehl, a longtime Roof Doctors supervisor who’s starting his own gig with 10 years of experience in the industry, expects the call volume to increase substantially over the next few months.

“It’s going to be bananas,” he said. Brodehl recommends property owners not wait until the drenching rain arrives because that could add up to a costly mistake.

“If they wait, it could cost double or maybe four to five times as much,” he said.

In the tree trimming business, Andy Hilldale of Fine Tree Care in Sebastopol agreed.

“Emergency work costs a lot more,” the customer service ambassador said. “This is the best time to get things done.”

Fine Tree Care is fielding the double whammy of calls. Property owners want to trim trees to avert wildfire threats with the onset of October. They also want to ensure weakened tree limbs don’t end up crashing into homes and businesses if the ground becomes oversaturated with water like last year, he noted.

The other consideration with a water-saturated ground is the mere access to property.

“We may not be able to drive across the property with our equipment,” he said.

The service call schedule for the tree trimmer consists of about seven to 10 appointments a day. These calls can run up to $50,000, a price may North Bay property owners are willing to pay to stay out of danger.

“People here are aware of what winter can do,” Hilldale said.

Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, tech, energy, transportation, agriculture as well as banking and finance. She can be reached at 530-545-8662 or susan.wood@busjrnl.com

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