12-25-2015 (Christmas Day at Punta Lobos)
Punta Lobos beach on Christmas Day 2015
12-11-2015 (Low Tide Punta Lobos Beach)
Low tide on Punta Lobos beach on December 12
11-23-2015 (Punta Lobos Beach)
As of 11-23-2015, the Punta Lobos Beach has returned to ideal conditions
11-20-2015 (Beach Returns)
The water has receded far from the seawall structures and the beautiful Punta Lobos beach returns.
11-09-2015 (Receding Tide)
Three days later, the tide is still higher than normal, but receding.
11-6-2015 (El Nino High Tide)
Historic high-tides caused by the Strong 2015 El Nino pushed the water line to the Seawall designed specifically for this type of extreme scenario.
The beach is a dynamic environment, subject to the constant motion of the sands and continuously changing ocean conditions. The beaches of Todos Santos generally grow and shrink over the course of the year, growing in the spring and summer, and retreating in the fall and winter. This regularly occurring seasonal process is currently being intensified by a naturally occurring oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon know as El Niño. El Niño is a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that occurs every two to seven years and lasts for 12 to 18 months. We are currently experiencing a very strong El Niño event – one of the strongest on record. The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently predicts that there is an approximately 95% chance that the current El Niño event will continue through winter 2015-2016, gradually weakening through spring 2016.
During El Niño, the easterly trade winds (blowing east to west) weaken along the equator as atmospheric pressure rises in the eastern Pacific and falls in the western Pacific. Weakened trade winds allow warm surface water, normally confined to the western Pacific, to migrate eastward. As a consequence of El Niño, sea level drops in the western Pacific and rises in the eastern Pacific in response to the redistribution of warm water. When water warms, it expands, which in the case of the oceans causes higher sea levels. El Niño causes Pacific coast sea levels across the Americas to rise well above normal seasonal levels.
The largest variability of sea level occurs in the tropical Pacific. Todos Santos is located along that eastern Pacific coastline at approximately the same latitude as the Tropic of Cancer. As such, El Niño can cause sea levels around Todos Santos to rise higher than sea level increases in coastal California and other Pacific coast areas of the United States.
The biggest seasonal effects on sea level happen during the fall and winter months when El Niño events typically reach their peak. Presently, near shore levels have risen by more than 12 inches as a result of El Niño.
The effects of a strong El Niño on the eastern Pacific coastline can be dramatic. The weakening (or reversal) of the trade winds generates eastward-propagating ocean waves across the Pacific, and unusually high ocean swells and storm surges are generated in coastal zones combining with the already elevated sea levels to cause high-energy surface waves and the potential for substantial coastal erosion.
The last El Niño of similar magnitude to the present event occurred during 1997/1998. This event is regarded as one of the most powerful El Niño events in recorded history. The 1997/1998 El Niño caused extensive beach erosion and coastal damage throughout the Pacific coastline of Mexico and the United States.