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El Nino

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Every two to seven years we see the Pacific waters warming up a little more than usual.  It's a cycle known as El Nino. It brings flooding rains to the Southwest and milder weather to the eastern half of the country.  And today....Climatologists and Forecasters alike are seeing this climate phenomenon take shape once more.

El Nino....a Spanish phrase meaning "the kid" is expected to make an impact on the United States this year. Its a warming of the Central Pacific from a combination of wind and waves in the tropics. Government Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had predicted a major El Nino back in 2012.  But their predictions flopped.  

These predictions can scare our market and send commodity and oil futures through the roof.   Especially since NOAA is  expecting a stronger El Nino this year, which would be characterized by major flooding on the West Coast but at the same time would break California's drought.  More rain and milder weather here would translate to drier and hotter weather in Southeast Asia and Australia.  World-wide, this would have a serious impact on the world's food staples such as sugar-cane and grains.

The strongest impacts of El Nino that have ever been recorded were in 1997 and ninety-eight.  These brought major flooding and landslides to California.

Number one....there were two strong el Ninos that brought less than average rainfall amounts to California in the 1960s and 90s.  Second...There was an El Nino just recently in 2009.  It's impact was considered moderate but the ArkLaTex saw rainfall far above average.
Late  October of 2009 flash flooding became a problem as a cold front stalled over deep East Texas, Northwest Louisiana, and Southwest Arkansas. Thunderstorms continued to move over the same areas repeatedly.  As the cold front began moving through the region, the tornado threat transitioned into a full-blown flash flooding event.  Widespread flash flooding was reported across areas the ArkLaTex as the rainfall aggravated and worsened hydrologic flooding that was already ongoing. 

October 2009 was one of the wettest Octobers on record in terms of precipitation area wide with over 20 inches of rain.  

1.  October 2009 - 20.35"
2.  October 1949 - 14.02"
3.  October 1984 - 12.05"
4.  October 1985 -  9.84"
5.  October 1994 -  9.14"
Note: October 2009 ranks third among all time wettest months.

But here is good news.....The El Nino watch and devastating impacts you may hear about from time to time might not happen at all.  In fact take these points into consideration.

And Forecasters are only giving this latest one about a fifty percent chance of developing between next summer and fall.    

70 percent of the Earth is covered by water. So water temperature in the ocean can affect our weather. 
The National Weather Service has issued an El Nino Watch due to a warm phase in the Pacific.

Warm water has been recorded accumulating off the coast of Australia. 

Computer models show that warm water moving  eastward which could affect our weather. Right now a 52 % probability exists for a El Nino. 

We have been in a La Nina cooling phase since about 2011. 

The last El Nino was in 2009 2010, the last major la Nina was in 1998, 1998 tied 2005 and 2010 for the warmest year on record. 

During an El Nino you have a more active branch of the southern jet stream, this brings a higher frequency of storms hitting the west coast.  El Nino years tend to be wet. 

El Nino also creates stronger winds over the tropics that can inhibit tropical storms and hurricanes from forming. This could mean a mild hurricane season. 

One things for certain.  Predicting the mood of our climate  is far from an exact science and no one can be certain of an outcome.  What we do know is that the Earth's climate has always changed with or without our forecasts and with or without us.  


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