California has been battered by El Niño surf this past week. Storms turn me on. I am a stormy weather addict. When nature unleashes its full fury of wind, rain, thunder, ice, waves, and snow, there I am, often walking outside in the brunt of unordinary forces, saying “Bring it on! Is that all you’ve got?”
Saturday morning January 23, 2010 was Day 7 and the last of a series of El Niño storms that rolled each day off the mighty Pacific Ocean into California. Sunday, January 17, Kelley and I went to Carmel Beach. The beach was closed due to high surf. The wind was blowing cold rain horizontally and the sand erosion was already apparent along the 22 acres of Carmel beach. Large “Beach Closed” signs were screwed into the wooden stairway entrances. Barriers were erected in other locations to warn people off the beach; what little beach there was.
Big storms with huge waves blow into Carmel Bay and Monterey Bay every year. Some years bring monster storms. January 2010 was one of the biggies.
But it was two years of winter storms in 1981-82 and 1982-83 which are remembered as having historical impact on the Monterey Peninsula.
I worked on Cannery Row in 1981 at an aquaculture lab raising Atlantic lobsters. The building is still there immediately to the right side of the Monterey Bay Aquarium which opened in 1984. There were major storm waves in the winter of 1981-82 that ripped off most of the outside balcony for the aquaculture lab building. The balcony was where I performed one of my lobster feeding tasks of grinding up fish heads for lobster food. We purchased discarded fish heads from the real fisherman’s wharf of Monterey as opposed to the restaurant and tourist shop Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf where tourists are more likely to visit while staying in town. Then, I individually fed hundreds of lobsters with a weighed portion of fish food, from darting days-old babies to years-old crusty shelled, and no doubt, incredibly meaty lobsters.
But, despite the big storm waves of 81-82, the winter of 1982-83 is considered the modern day benchmark for major storm activity on the Monterey Peninsula. The 82-83 storms severely eroded 20 to 40 feet of the bluffs above Carmel beach (photo link). The current walking path beside Scenic Drive and many of the erosion barrier walls and rock revetments to protect the dunes and bluffs above the beach were built after the 1982-1983 storms.
- Carmel Beach walls and rock revetment (February 2009)
The storms of this past week created amazing surf. I spent hours driving around the Monterey Peninsula over several days taking photographs and just standing on the bluffs and at times dangerously close to the water in awe of the Pacific waves crashing into shore. At night I lay in bed and waves rolled through my mind as I drifted to sleep.
- Waves crashing at road level Carmel Point, Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010
Here is a pictorial story of what transpired over this week in my Picasa photo albums for Carmel (122 photos)and Pacific Grove (145 photos) illustrating the awesome power of the January 2010 El Niño storms.