Story 2015-08-26 JGA9 2015 may be remembered as the most severe El Nino ever

2015 may be remembered as the most severe El Nino ever

in science on (#JGA9)
story imageScientists' understanding of the El Nino phenomenon - in which a reversal of warm and cool currents in the Pacific Ocean brings wet weather to America's West Coast and elsewhere while areas used to monsoon rainfall remain dry - is better than ever. But that hasn't helped our ability to accurately predict El Nino years, and of course even prediction does nothing for mitigating the sometimes disastrous effects.
El Nino-watchers at America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noted worrisome ENSO-related changes in both sea temperature and air pressure earlier this year. They declared the return of the Boy in March. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology decided to wait until May. Such forecasts can be wrong. Despite signs of the phenomenon last year, no monstrous event actually emerged. But during July the surface temperature of the central equatorial Pacific was almost 1C higher than expected, and its equivalent in the eastern Pacific was more than 2C above expectations. Among other things, that puts the temperatures in these areas well above the 26.5C minimum needed for the formation of tropical storms. Right on cue, on July 12th, six such cyclones spun in the Pacific-more than on any previous day in over four decades.
Mike Halpert, the deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Centre, believes the current Nino could be among the strongest since records began in 1950. That one was responsible for 21,000 deaths and $36B in damages on houses, bridges, and culverts.

Time to get out the raincoats and umbrellas?
Reply 6 comments

Give it a name and people will watch (Score: 1)

by on 2015-08-26 15:00 (#JH11)

It's the weather, folks. We still suck at predicting it long term.

For those with short memories, this is basically the same story as last year.

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Hmmm. Something seems wrong with the wysiwyg editor...

Make up my mind (Score: 1)

by on 2015-08-26 16:17 (#JH96)

First they complain of drought, now they complain because they'll get too much rain... hey, envirowhacks on the left coast, are you glad you didn't tear down all your flood-control dams yet??

I lived in SoCal during a "bad" El Nino year, back a couple decades. And what became obvious to me is that it's not the heavy rain that's the problem, it's the slapdash planning, and too many "view lots" on the edge of cliffs made of porous material (like sand and clay). Plus a complete lack of understanding of how to channel excess water to minimize destruction (here's a hint: you want to slow it down and spread it out, not make it rush faster so it undercuts even more. Guess which I saw done over and over in SoCal.)

Re: Make up my mind (Score: 1)

by on 2015-08-26 20:52 (#JJ2D)

Actually, they say all the El Nino rain will barely help. El Nino mostly brings rain to Southern California, which only has about 1/3rd the surface-water infrastructure as Northern California. Hence the aqueducts that span the state. What California really needs is lots of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. If El Nino makes this a warmer winter, resulting in less snowpack, California will be worse-off, not better.

Worst article image... EVER (Score: 1)

by on 2015-08-27 06:45 (#JK4M)

If you'll forgive me, I just have to take a moment to point out how absolutely HORRIBLE the image for this article is... I can't remember seeing anything worse. It looks like a negative photo of a mushroom cloud. Or perhaps somebody broke a bottle of jam on the floor a car wash? It's just plain AWFUL.

Am I wrong? Is somebody here able to glean some useful information from that image?

Anybody else got a better description of our acid-fueled cloud-watching photograph?

Re: Worst article image... EVER (Score: 1)

by on 2015-08-27 13:52 (#JM83)

It's an infrared image of a colon polyp ... I think. Of course, give them credit for choosing something non-dramatic instead of the alternative, some scare picture of houses under water or something.