What Does El Nino Mean for Travelers?

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Mud slides, venomous sea snakes, a large, late-October hurricane in the Pacific Ocean – it all leads to one thing — the arrival of El Nino weather patterns in the West, particularly in California.

The Los Angeles Times has already dubbed the coming El Nino season in California the “Godzilla El Nino” and many climate scientists predict that this El Nino will be one of the strongest on record. And in another recent Los Angeles Times article, the paper noted that “El Nino is too big to fail.”

In light of recent weather events in the Northern Los Angeles area that saw flash flooding and thunderstorms in the Antelope Valley area that lead to deadly mudslides, Californians have been urged to prepare in advance.

“I think we’ve seen a pretty good hint of what we’re likely to see,” Bil Croyle, deputy director of emergency preparedness for California’s Department of Water Resources told NBC.

He also noted that rainfall will increase dramatically, especially in comparison to four years of drought in the state.

“We could see upward of 200 percent of normal rainfall,” Croyle said in the NBC report. “There’s going to be those key areas that have been problematic in the past … but this could be widespread.”

So, how will this affect tourism in the Golden State?

According to new research from Switchfly, 60 percent of Americans are planning to cancel their travel plans to California during this winter’s stormy weather.

The tech company also discovered that 23 percent of Americans would definitely cancel their plans if the El Nino storms were raging; 37 percent would consider other options in light of El Nino; 50 percent of men over the age of 65 said that they would still travel to California; and only 17 percent would cancel existing plans.

In light of these statistics, California will definitely take a hit when it comes to inbound visitors and El Nino conditions, which have already begun and are predicted to continue through the spring, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

There is approximately a 95 percent chance that El Nino will continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-2016, gradually weakening through spring 2016, says the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) statement issued by the Climate Prediction Center.

The NOAA issued a warning that El Nino will be a huge factor throughout the season.

“A strong El Nino is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Nino are favored, El Nino is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and snowstorms will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.”

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