Friday, July 18, 2014

That Upcoming El Nino Might Not Be Such A Big Deal After All

The experts, or at least some of us weather geeks who watch the experts, have been hyping a major El Nino that was forecast to get going later this year.  
Like most recent months, June, 2014
on a global bais ranked in the top 10 warmest.  

El Nino is that Pacific Ocean pattern which brings warm water to the eastern side of that ocean.

The phenomenon, especially if it's strong, can screw up worldwide weather patterns, causing intense droughts in some areas, like Indonesia, and soaking other areas, like the southern United States.

El Nino tends to raise global average temperatures, so the thought was that if this El Nino is strong, it would combine with the general trend of global warming to really skyrocket the average temperature across the world.

But hold on. As Eric Holthaus writes in Slate, this El Nino might not turn out to be the Big Deal we thought it might be. The warm water in the eastern Pacific has materialized, but the atmosphere hasn't really responded so far to any huge degree.

It still looks like we're in for an El Nino, but it might not be the blockbuster that people like me hyped earlier this year.

Still it might be having an effect, or at least still might have an effect later this year, even if it turns out to be the mild to moderate El Nino some forecasters are calling for.

The monsoon in India is sluggish, leading to drought fears. That might be in part related to El Nino.

The opposite pattern to El Nino, called El Nina, brings cool water to the eastern Pacific and tends to suppress worldwide temperatures on average, so the cool El Nina would slightly tamp down the effects of global warming.

Now that we have at least a mild El Nino trying to cook up, I have noticed in recent months global temperatures have spiked, the chill in the U.S. Midwest in the winter, and this week notwithstanding.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said this week that the period April 1 through June 30 was the hottest on record since they starting keeping track of these things in the late 1800s.

As Holthaus points out, a weak El Nino might mean California is even more screwed. A strong El Nino tends to focus winter storms on California, which gave the state some hope that heavy winter rains in a few months would diminish the Golden State's epic drought.

Now, with intense drought covering much of the state, weak winter rains in 2014-15 would mean things would get totally dire in California, as if they weren't already.

Like most weather forecasts, we're not going to cast this latest El Nino prediction in stone. It still could prove strong, or it could be even weaker than we thought.

We'll have to wait and see.

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