15 October 2009
This past week has brought some serious flooding to California. This could not come at a worse time with so many hills and mountains denuded of ground cover by the Summer fires. No ground cover means nothing to hold the soaked soil in place, and it will take even less rain than normal to start the famous mud slide season.
Here in my part of the world, it’s almost as bad. Heavy rains have fallen for weeks here in the Southeast corner of North America. You should see the path from my driveway to the front door. The sidewalk of brick is under the mud.
Is it likely to continue?
You can blame it on El Nino. The folks at NOAA who keep up with the temperatures of the Equatorial Pacific have updated forecasters with their latest data and model runs. It looks likely we will see a moderate El Nino this winter. For Geeks- you can get the NOAA powerpoint for forecasters here: enso_evolution-status-from NOAA CPC
El Nino is officially here when the surface water in an area of the Pacific, called the NINO 3.4 region, is warmer than normal by .5C for three months in a row. (see map and graphic above.)
Something to remember here. Every El Nino is a little different.
So far the rains here in the southeast seem to be a bit further North than is typical for El Nino. There is no way of knowing if that will continue into December, but if you live in the Southeast or California, prepare for a wet winter. Snow lovers in the Canadian Rockies may be in for a disappointing season.
Numerical weather prediction models are all predicting the El Nino to continue and several are indicating a strong one. Most are indicating a moderate event. (see below)
There are also some climate change aspects to this story. The warm waters produces by El Nino cause the planetary temperature to rise. The El Nino of 1998 was one of the strongest on record and made that year exceptionally warm. La Nina does just the opposite.
The global warming deniers on their junk science web sites (Political propaganda really), draw a line from the warm 1998 year, to the cool La Nina years and then scream global cooling. There is only one word for that.
The truth of the matter is that the planet continues to warm, and all the real science, shows that the melt in Greenland and the Antarctic is accelerating. I will have more on that in the next post.