El Niño Journal, Thursday, Jan. 15,1998

1.6″ last night and it is still raining! Expected to last today through tonight, so I guess I’ll call Nina and tell her to forget Friday. Last night’s rain brings us up to 30.10″ to date.

My records indicate that end of January totals were:

1995- 36″ – Rd. Closed in all 3 directions in March.

1996 – 21″ – mild year

1997 – 65″ – road closed in lots of places, but no rain after Jan.

I’m going to call Kimball at 7:30 to see what we hear about road conditions and whether school is scheduled for today.

Per SLO tv, January is our wettest month, but here on the South Coast we have had some pretty heavy rains in March. 1995 an 1983 stand out. Both times the Hiway closed to the north for significant periods of time. March 1995, [rains] took out the Carmel River Bridge. With the help of the Army Corps of Engineers, a temporary Bailey Bridge, and a contractor who worked his men (including Kenny Comello) 12 hour days they were able to complete the bridge in 28 days.

I should probably go back and read that journal [March 1995] but I remember it vividly. Cambria was flooded – under about 3′ of water. The road in from the East, Nacimiento Fergusson, all bridges washed out and there was a slide on the south end of Highway One.

In March of 1983 I was still in Orange County [my last year as it turned out] but coming up to Esalen often. That year, the biggest slide in history occurred at Julia Pfeiffer Burns. That slide took 14 months to repair, and it’s been unstable ever since.


El Niño Journal, Monday 1/12/1998

1.3″ of rain today, .9″ last night for a total of 10″ so far this month. 10″ in 12 days. That’s considerable.

Going back through my records for the prior three years, I find that in January of 1995 we had 13.85″ by 1/12, none in 1996 and only 7.5″ in 1997 (although we had 44.45″ when we started January.) March of 1995 brought us 14.5″ in the first 12 days, so we are up there with the best of my prior recorded storms.

El Niño Journal – Jan. 10, 1998


Yesterday’s meeting was long – it lasted until almost 2 pm. The last two hours of the meeting, the rain was quite heavy. I canceled the town run – went to River Inn for gas, bread, and muffins. Then went to Fernwood for a quick hamburger. Got home by 4:30.

It was a slow  drive home, between the rain, the rocks, and the non-working window defroster….

The rain is supposed to continue throughout the day today and then another storm developing Sunday afternoon. Predictions are for the rain to continue through Wednesday.

Even though some scientists are claiming that El Niño is weakening, others are stating that this is the beginning of its effects on the California Coast. The storms are stacking up out in the Pacific. In the last 24 hours we have recorded 2.7″, a significant amount…

Looking back at the rain totals for the last few years at the end of January we had:

1995 – 36″

1996 – 21″

1997 – 65″

Of course, in 1997 the rain pretty much ended at the end of January, and in 1995, March was the month of floods and the collapse of the Carmel River Bridge and 1996 was a relatively dry year.

El Niño Journal – Jan 9, 1998

“Friday, January 9th – Obviously, I haven’t written much this week. This morning I have an hour before I have to lave for the Big Sur multi-Agency Advisory Council meeting at 10 am. There is a storm here today and [Rock Knocker] has told me I CANT drive Highway One in the rain, in the dark.

The meeting is expected to go until 1:30, but the agenda is PACKED with some very controversial issues, so I can’t imagine it will finish on time. I will have to leave by 2pm or I won’t be able to get to [town and then back to] the dirt by dark. [during meeting] Currently, the Pt. Sur naval facility is involving more time than I thought it would involve. Most of this large audience – the largest I’ve ever seen – is here for the Short Term Rental Ordinance. [ed. Note – somethings never change.]”

El Niño Journal – Jan 4,1998

“Sunday, Jan 4th – 1.7″ last night and it’s still raining today. Lots of wind at the moment.”

Didnt have any weather watching/recording equipment back then, except a couple plastic rain gauges. I did keep track on my calendar of how much rain I got each day and night, as well as the total to-date for the season. I kept them all, too…I just have to find them!

El Niño Journal – Jan 3, 1998

i found my journal from 1998, as well as the scrap book I made in February 1998. The scrapbook has photos, newspaper clippings, notes, and all manner of historical significance, but only covers that month. I also have a VHS that a friend in town recorded for me of the news reports of the El Niño in Monterey County and Highway One.

As we transition from summer to fall, I thought it might be of interest to this blog’s followers to see what was written and photographed at the time of the last big El Niño, so we can remember a bit more accurately what is predicted to repeat this winter. Therefore, every so often, I will reproduce part of what I recorded back then. Today, I take you back to January 3, 1998.

“Saturday, Jan. 3rd – 8am and I’ve already been awake for 2 1/2 hours. [Rock Knocker] is off to work. It has been raining, but it seems to have stopped. I didn’t get outside at all yesterday because of the rain.

Our small gauge recorded 1 1/2″ but the big one recorded 3″! Last night we got .3″ in the small one and .5″ in the large. The large one is in the open, so I’ll start recording from that one – if we remember to dump it after each recordation. More rain is expected tonight and tomorrow.”

Remember, these are journal entries I made for myself, so the writing is nothing elegant, just factual. I will scan pages from the scrapbook and post them when possible, and when I get to February’s journal entries. If I can get the VHS into digital form, I will consider adding video to this blog for the first time. I finally get Excede installed today, so video should be a possibility.

i hope you will enjoy this series over the next few months.