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El Nino & Winter Destinations


nunativs

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Well my wife and I are finally leaving the RV park we've been staying at for a few years and hitting the road fulltime, and low and behold El Nino is showing up with a vengence this winter.

 

We are 1ooo Trails Elite members and our plans were to go to the Palm Springs area then down to San Diego and possibly venture into Arizona for the winter season.

 

If the recent flooding and mud on the Grapevine and I-5 is any indication of what's to come, we are beginning to have second thoughts though we really don't want to be in the colder North.

 

Any advice on what it's like to be in the desert with big storms coming through or someone who was in the Southwest during the 97-98 El Nino? Thanks!

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We spent two years, or winters, in Mesa, Az and there were no storms. A few rains, very few, one light snow only at higher hills. A few mornings with frost, very few, and very little frost. My Dear Bride even keeps plants on the patios where we stay. If we are to have a wet winter anywhere in the west, it would be welcome. Whatever ends up in the southwest will be better than the north.

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It is hard to predict the future, but the nice thing about an RV is that you can move it if the weather is not good. If it were me, I would not sign any agreements to stay in one place for a long time.

 

The other thing is to try to choose locations that are slightly elevated, possibly even on slopes. That way you will not get caught in any flash floods. You can check elevation on Google Earth. Look for nearby dry stream beds and avoid them.

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Our forecast in AZ is for double the normal winter rainfall, around 7 inches instead of 3 1/2. That's not much rain unless you get caught in a Wash. As advised, stay to the higher ground and you will be fine as all the rain can come at once or in just a couple of storms in AZ. Also forecasted to be a little cooler but warm compared to the Northern locations. http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=2

 

rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

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You said you lived in a RV park a couple years.....where was that? Was the weather perfect?

 

In 16 years of traveling full-timers we never found a place that was perfect. Just keep an eye on the weather and prepare as best you can if heavy rains are in the forecast. As stated, pick your sites in an elevated areas as best you can. If boondocking, definitely never park in or near a wash. If heavy rains begin and the forecast is for days of it, use your judgement as to the surrounding terrain and then decide if you should move. That's what's nice about RVs . . you can move. The worst thing you can do is to think that you'll just wait it out if the terrain is iffy. Once the desert areas get saturated (and sometimes even before) there is no place for the water to go and that's when problems occur.

 

There's no reason to panic...take it day by day and enjoy!

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The drift of these responses has been to avoid campgrounds prone to possible flooding which I suppose is always wise. Especially with the approaching El Niño winter.

 

From what I've been following the weather experts think that the entire Snowbird area of the United States will have cooler and wetter weather than normal.

 

That includes Southern California, Arizona, Texas including the entire Rio Grande Valley, and Florida down nearly to Key West. So this early on it's hard to make any kind of a best guess as to where to go.

 

Maybe as things shape up some maneuvering might be possible. After all - we do have wheels.

 

Let's add in standard qualification given with all these predictions:"But we just don't know for sure." And history has proven that to be true in maybe 50 percent of past El Niño winters.

 

Just in case though anybody for Key West? But that would have required some planning six months ago or longer.

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First, the area that the mud slides occurred were up in the mountains north of LA. And that area had burned so there were no trees, etc., to hold onto the soil. This is not an area where one would be spending the winter. Palm Springs is flat in the area where the Thousand Trails park is - not a worry. These storms dump enough to flood streets for 4-6 hours and you don't want to be out driving during one of them (one is going through Phoenix area right now) but isn't something you have to worry about as far as normal RV parks. Now if you are going to boondock out in the desert, then you do need to determine where the washes are, making sure you don't park in them (they are pretty easy to determine) and again, when a storm comes through, don't venture out to watch the storm.

 

Barb

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@2gypsies, that was in Auburn California and no not perfect weather here either. Funny thing is the RV park is located about 200 yards below a dam.

 

Thanks for all the responses everyone, I really appreciate it. I think we'll go anyways and just stay aware when the storms are coming in. I don't drive in the rain if I can help it anyways. A very helpful group of people here!

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NuNatives - No one knows what the weather will be for sure in the future past a couple of hours. I have lived much of my life in S CA and have been through a few El Nino winters. My experience is that a lot of the moisture falls west of the mountains. So, it might be raining consistently for days in LA and Palm Springs will get some of it. But I would say the number 1 place you want to avoid camping in an El Nino winter by far!!! is 200 yards below a dam. And then just avoid campgrounds in low lying areas. You can use Google Earth or any map program that shows topography. I have been to the TT park in Jamul CA called Pio Pico and there is a stream that goes through it. It frequently has water in it in the winter. But the banks are pretty steep and I would not worry about that park. The Oakzanita TT is very high ground, all of it. The one at Cottonwood in AZ is very high ground. We have stayed at the one in Palm Springs and it is flat. I don't remember if there is a stream near by. Same with the one just north of Temecula. That one is flat land. Idyllwild is very high country. Snow in winter though.

 

The Phoenix area can flood out in a heavy rain winter. I can remember a couple times bridges have washed out in the salt river that goes through town. It also crosses several of the areas that get a lot of winter RVs like Mesa AZ.

 

I am hoping we get very heavy rain this winter so I don't have to water my plants. I could use a lower water bill.

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We wintered in Yuma last year and will head back this year. Yuma seems to be enchanted. All the rain in Cali we were warm and sunny. The snow in Phoenix at New Year? We had a few clouds. Twice the rain as last year - damn, 8 days in 3 months rather than 4. I cant wait!!

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But there is nothing to do in Yuma. I know lots of people love it, but like the hustle and bustle of a big metro area for a few months - especially all of the museums, arts centers, etc. is something we enjoy. The Musical Instrument Museum (and the concerts there) is a great example of a place to spend several days during the winter and the next year they will have new exhibits, new concerts, new festivals - - yes we are annual members of that museum.

 

Luckily, there are so many different regions in Arizona that everyone seems to find the niche that they enjoy. :D

 

Barb

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I would just stay away from recent burn areas. San Diego - good, Palm Springs - good. AZ and desert areas always susceptible to flash flooding.

 

I think the 58 like most disasters was a string of existing disasters. Cal Trans put a 5 to 6 foot concrete barrier right down the center of the freeway, making a wonderful dam and dam it did. No where for the mud and water to go. No where for the water to go. They never showed, at last from what I saw the hillside that gave way. There were no recent fires there. The hillside is grassy and under drought conditions for years. How did the hill get water logged in such a short amount of time? Never have seen spring activity there.

 

It's a similar disaster to the recent 15 fire. Commonality to both, grades, mountainous, heavy traffic, no outlets for traffic, weird conditions and of course Cal Trans. If you see smoke don't go. F you don't have a way out don't go. If there are a bunch of cars don't go.

 

The best advice I have is to be aware, of everything around you, road, traffic, outlets, weather etc. plan for what ifs and be cautious. Change your route, stop early, don't go, take a lunch break. I used to travel a lot in Northern Michigan often in blizzards. I always knew other route choices and didn't mind the less traveled country road. I did mind a busy highway or interstate.

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Parking in arroyos, low spots, next to burned mountains and in front of dams makes a lot of sense not to do. Otherwise may I suggest the Standing Rule. The Standing Rule is when you get up you go outside and stand. If your head gets wet, cold or whatever then you go inside and get on the Escapee's Forum for hours of entertainment and fun. If it is sunny and warm then remain outside, draw some coffee and gaze over all the freedom and beauty you have sought. Either way you cannot lose!

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