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El Niño Woes

I think it’s only fair to write a post about El Niño, which has been a part of our 2015 in review, and will be, through at least November according to weather experts. Not only does it significantly effect the surf but it also, in a way, impacts real estate. For the west coast of the USA it’s a totally different weather event. It means more hurricanes, and more surf. For Florida, it means hardly any hurricanes…and flat flat surf. This season it also meant extremely cold water which I will get into later. So in a nutshell, the wind shear and dry air impacts the ability for hurricanes to form and take shape, and eventually head in a favorable organized direction for surf. I’m sure some of my out of state real estate customers are reading this thinking, “what!! you are upset there haven’t been hurricanes??”. Don’t worry, we don’t hope for storms to hit Florida…we hope for hurricanes to take their path of staying several hundred miles off the coast and curving northeast, after coming far enough for comfort but close enough for waves. We don’t like our friends and family in the Northeast to be impacted either, so a nice Category 3 hurricane far off the coast on a path for the middle of the Atlantic is what we like.

The impacts of an active hurricane season are almost as unfavorable in real estate as the impacts of several years of inactive seasons. Last year my real estate customers were saying, “There hasn’t been a storm in so many years so I think you’re due for one which is scary when buying.” I (and most tuned in surfers) knew, however, that this year was going to be an El Niño year as forecast, so I was sure to correct them and ease the nerves. But next year will be a different story. I really can’t correct a New Smyrna Beach real estate customer when they say it’s been quiet for years so we’re due for a storm because, although that’s a very pessimistic and inaccurate way to look at it, they are sort of right, no? Purchasing a condo or house for sale in New Smyrna Beach shouldn’t be any scarier from a weather perspective than any where else in the world. There isn’t a single place in this earth that is exempt from naturally occurring weather phenomena that could impart major damage on a property. The media plays a huge role on the fears of buyers. Without straying too far from the topic at hand, a perfect example is Shark Week. Every year during the time this airs my surf school, Surfin’ NSB, loses thousands in business by way of cancellations and lack of interest. Is the shark activity any different during Shark Week on TV than other times of the year? No. But there you have it.

Getting back to El Niño 2015, a huge impact it had on us this year was the water temperature. Summer is always a time of flatter than normal surf and west (offshore on the East Coast) winds, but this year, that wind shear I was discussing earlier came into play in a big way. Persistent offshore winds every July create what is called upwelling. The offshore wind pushes the nice warm surface water out to sea and in turn, colder deeper water surfaces. Think of it as a circular current. If you’re curious of the mechanics NOAA can explain it better than I. Starting in mid June and not subsiding until mid August we had strong southwest winds almost all day every day. The water temperature was in the 60’s nearly all of July!! Meanwhile California had warm ocean temperatures and usually surfers are in a wetsuit year round, they were skinning it and had pumping surf. Poor central eastern Florida was freezing and it was flat. The colder temperatures were not great for tourists either. Some northerners thought it was refreshing but after an hour or so in the water the body temperature drops and it gets a bit chilly. Surfing New Smyrna Beach day trippers were greeted all summer with flat surf, offshore winds, and cold water. Needless to say, I think the entire surfing community is ready for El Niño to end.

What can we expect for the end of the El Niño season? Well forecasters are saying more than usual rainfall and a cold winter but let’s face it…this is Florida, what’s “more than usual” rain anyway? The thunderstorm lasted 45 minutes instead of 30. The colder temperatures are another story though. New Smyrna Beach doesn’t see near the cold temps that North Florida and Central Florida do…the ocean temperature helps for sure. A cold winter is the most detrimental for real estate in New Smyrna Beach. Northerners a.k.a. snowbirds, head this way to escape colder temperatures, so when we have a cold winter they aren’t happy. Unhappy visitors do not turn into buyers so, in general, the so called condo buying season of New Smyrna Beach is just not has healthy.

To conclude this half rant half informative blog, I’m tired of El Niño. Even though it is nice not to worry about damaging hurricanes impacting the coast this year…it’s not exactly a ticket to peace of mind in the eyes of future second home owners, next year it will be the same as last year…the “we’re due for one” chatter. As for the surfing, I’m chomping at the bit for real waves and warm water (warm water finally arrived in late August). I stay pretty in tune with the weather for not only my profession but my favorite past time. When a buyer or seller in the New Smyrna Beach real estate market approaches me with media filled claims and fears, I’m not afraid to speak the truth or my opinion of the “due for one” mentality. Hopefully that attracts more customers than scares them off, but honesty is my nature so if you are looking for a real estate agent in New Smyrna Beach that will really give an honest and experience based opinion…here I am. As for you El Niño, hope it’s a while before I see you again and let the countdown for real waves begin.

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