9th CES prepares for the winter season

9th CES prepares for the winter season (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Ramon A. Adelan)

9th CES prepares for the winter season (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Ramon A. Adelan)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California -- California is expected to have wetter-than-average conditions this winter due to El Niño.  The 9th Civil Engineer Squadron has taken the steps to prevent flooding on Beale Air Force Base from the upcoming winter season.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Niño is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. It's an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe.

"Our main priority is to prevent flooding on the base," said Tech. Sgt. Johnny Resendez, 9th CES construction supervisor. "There has been pretty heavy rainfall in the past that impacts the base significantly with flooding. The flooding causes a lot of damage costing the base millions of dollars to repair."

The 9th CES has been tasked to clear canals and dams throughout the approximate 73 miles of drainage systems flowing through the base. The Airmen have cleared approximately 1,000 tons of debris thus far.

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

The U.S. Drought Outlook shows some improvement is likely in Central and Southern California by the end of January, but not drought removal. Additional statewide relief is possible during February and March, according to NOAA website.

"Our forecast models show that El Niño should be mainly hitting Central California and to the south of the state as of now," said Capt. Douglas Ferguson, 9th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight officer. "We see our projected weather, but that could change at any moment."

In addition to damages, the flooding can leave areas of the base inaccessible for Airmen and personnel.

"We have seen areas of the base flooded to where families in housing aren't able to get to the main base," Resendez said. "We want to have those areas cleared so incase emergency services need to get through, they can."

Civil engineer Airmen have been working seven days a week to complete this task before significant rain falls.

"Though we might not get the brunt of the storm, we should be seeing more rain than we did last year," Ferguson said. "The rain and snow fall from El Niño or any weather system always affects us. The water will run from the higher elevation down into the valley here, which will cause our waterways to rise and in some areas spill out and flood."

The clearing of the drainage systems, dams and other waterways is slated to be completed by mid-December.

"We are finishing up the last areas of the project, but we aren't completely walking away from it," Resendez said. "We will continue to clean as the weather pushing more debris into the canals and dams. This is a yearly battle we have to help preserve the assets of Beale."