Now, in 2015, it seems the increase in sea surface temperatures in the equatorial eastern Pacific and off California is showing no sign of abating. Not only that, but the SOI is now reflecting something BIG in store for 2015-16: Two weeks ago, it was weak positive (around 0.02). Then, last week, it plummeted. How low? -43.80. To put that in perspective, even the 1997-98 SOIs only averaged around -15, and even then, it didn't fluctuate much. So that SOI is three times as negative as the average SOI from 1997-98. This week it rose, but only by five points, to -38.48. The Australian BoM SOI graph, as another indicator, only has a range between -40 and 40. Which makes -43.80 completely off the chart, and -38.48 on the chart, but barely. The Southern Oscillation Index, or SOI, for those who are clueless, is basically Australia's way of measuring ENSO's effect on Australia's weather, which is usually the opposite of its effect on ours. That is why a positive SOI = La Niña and a negative SOI = El Niño. We all know how extreme 1997-98 was, of course, with its effect on California's weather well-known. If these extreme negative SOIs persist through the summer, however, which they likely will if the sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean getting colder and colder and MSLP anomalies becoming progressively more westerly from the Indian to Pacific Oceans are any indication, then 2015-16 could be an El Niño for the record books, clocking in at more than triple 1997-98 in terms of its intensity.
Then, to top it all off, there's that dreaded list of hurricane names on the roster — again — for 2015. Recognize any familiar ones? I for one recognize at least 4: Guillermo, the seventh most powerful hurricane in eastern Pacific history, whose remnants managed to deluge central and southern California, causing massive flooding, Linda, the most powerful hurricane in eastern Pacific history with sustained winds topping 185mph (on par with the 1935 Labor Day monster at peak intensity), which gained even more notoriety for becoming a near-repeat of 1939, Rick, the second most powerful hurricane in eastern Pacific history, which hammered Mexico with an extremely destructive 1-2 punch of wind and storm surge, and Nora, which wasn't particularly out of the ordinary (on par with Odile's intensity) but managed to still, after making landfall in Mexico, cross into California, bringing tropical storm force winds and double-digit rainfall totals. Based on how rapidly SSTs are rising in the Pacific and dropping in the IndIan Ocean at the same time, the possibility of an exact repeat of any of these storms — or even something disrpoportionately more powerful still — doesn't seem too far out of the ordinary, and if one of them manages to still maintain hurricane status as it rams California, I wouldn't be too surprised either.
In fact, such a scenario did happen before, exactly 4 years into a devastating drought that began in 1854 (how about that? We're now also 4 years into this one). At the time, on October 2, 1858, hurricane managed to blast a region stretching from San Diego to Los Angeles with 85mph winds coupled with 10-foot storm surge and rainfall totals in the tens of inches. Gee, is this history repeating itself? I don't know, but it sure does seem like it.