Predicted “Godzilla El Niño” headed towards Paso Robles

Farmers, ranchers, and everyone who just wants to water their lawn is hoping and praying for an rainstorm, but although a storm may sound like a blessing, it might end up being a curse because a “Godzilla El Niño” is creeping its way towards little Paso Robles.

An El Niño by definition is a shift in winds in the Pacific Ocean along the equator, warming the water more than usual. These El Niño events trig
ger changing weather patterns globally and can increase chances of heavy rain.

Oct15_Enviroment_El Nino_VarianThis year it is expected to rain almost twice the normal amount of rain (17.28 inches). The expected El Niño, now nicknamed “Godzilla,” is said to be more powerful than a king-sized one in 1997-98, that had as much rainfall as 47.19 Inches in San Franciso (230% of normal rainfall) to 31.01 inches in Los Angeles (210% of normal rainfall). The 1997 to 1998 storm, reeked havoc, washing away roads and railroad tracks, overflowing many flood control channels, and causing 17 deaths and more than half a billion dollars in damage in California.

The drought in California is by the far the worst on record. Lasting a long four years, 92% of California is in severe drought, 71% is in extreme, and 46% is in exceptional drought. The Golden State needs 11.5 times the average amount of 17.28 inches a year to pull itself out this four year shortage and this El Niño may be just what California needs to get the ball rolling.

However, substantial rainfall “will not solve our water problem…but will no doubt help our farmers and ranchers,” said Frank Mecham, the San Luis Obispo County Supervisor.

As of right now, approximately 31 million Californians rely on well water, and together use an approximate of 11 billion gallons of water every 24 hours, according to The California State Water Resources Control Board. But because of this “explosive drought,” approximately 2,225 wells statewide have been identified as critical or dry, which affects around 9,488 residents’ checkbooks. Re-drilling a well can cost as much as $60 to $120 a foot and vary in depth from 120 to 400 feet.

Senior Nicole Ellart, who lives just outside of Paso Robles, has been the victim of a dry well. “We have had to go deeper twice now… around 400 feet deeper.” Her family has had to live with their grandma at times because of a shortage of water, and she has felt the fear of not being able to water her numerous animals, including chickens, horses and sheep.

It is said that CaliforniaEnvirroment_El Nino_VideoInfographic_Varian needs to replace 12 trillion gallons of water in order to be free of the drought,
that means three years of above average rainfall. Also, due to the drought, 4,382 wildfires that have burned in the state of California, this summer, causing the ground to harden and wiping away all of the ground cover, which will cause major erosion problems down the road, according to local cattle ranchers.  Many of these fires have spread due to dry and dying brush and vegetation, but if the Golden State gets a substantial amount of rain from this “perfect storm” the number of fires will most likely decrease. This “godzilla,”
though powerful and monstrous may have many heroic qualities.

An El Niño in Paso Robles may cause as many problems as it will solve. Large amounts of rainfall are known to cause extreme erosion and the threat of erosion has local ranchers shaking in their boots. Erosion can cause serious harm, especially when it comes to a ranches and crops.

Therefore, ranchers all over are preparing for this monumental rain year. “We are clearing creeks right now and rerouting water. Erosion is scary when there have been fires,”said Kelly Work, a seventh generation cattle rancher from Paso Robles.

And with the big fire year California has had, approximately 282,844 acres burned already this year in California and the threat of landslides and erosion is increasing with every minute.

“The El Niño could be great but we definitely worry about erosion,” said Work. So the question everyone’s now asking is: Is this El Niño really going to benefit us or just cause too many problems to handle?

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