News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

US and Australia both predict likely 2014 El Nino bringing rain to California in summer or fall. Historically El Nino years have brought most rain to California-SF Gate, Reuters

3/21/14, "Thirsty California pins hopes on El Niño's return,", Kale Williams and Kurtis Alexander

"But even as hope dims for a March miracle storm, climatologists say weather conditions could change this year if an El Niño takes shape. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño watch this month, citing a 52 percent chance of Pacific Ocean waters warming and creating - possibly - a wetter-than-average winter.

Historically, El Niño conditions have been associated with the state's biggest rain years, including the winters of 1997-98 and 1982-83, which brought fatal mudslides to the Santa Cruz Mountains and devastating surf to the Southern California coast. In 1997-98, San Francisco was pounded by a record 47.2 inches of rain.

But while El Niño boosts the odds of rain, it provides no guarantees, especially if the ocean warming isn't extreme.

"If it's only in the weak to moderate category, it doesn't really make me convinced that things will turn around," said state Department of Water Resources climatologist Mike Anderson, who plans to monitor the telltale phenomenon as fall approaches. "We've still got a long, hot summer to go."

To date, San Francisco has received just 8.6 inches of rain since July. That compares with the 20.3 inches that falls on average by this point in the rain year.

The story of below-average precipitation is the same across the state....

In the Central Valley, the state and federal water projects that provide Sierra snowmelt to farmers say they're likely to have no water to give out this year.

The short-term forecast doesn't look good. The National Weather Service is calling for a small chance of rain in the Bay Area around the middle of next week, but no more than half an inch.

"We would need five times the amount of normal rainfall every day between now and June to get us back to normal levels," said Steve Anderson, a forecaster for the weather service.

Climatologists looking at the long-term picture, meanwhile, say ocean temperature readings and wind models suggest that an El Niño may form over the eastern tropics of the Pacific Ocean in the summer or fall.

"It's a long way from being a slam dunk," said Mike Halpert, acting director of the Climate Prediction Center.

The water and atmospheric conditions, Halpert said, have the potential to feed off each other and prompt major shifts in world weather patterns.

Typically, El Niño brings drier weather to the western Pacific, in places such as Australia and Indonesia, and wetter weather to the Americas, he said. The effects vary considerably with the strength of El Niño - and can differ from place to place.

For example, weak to moderate El Niño conditions have brought more rain to Southern California, while doing little for the northern part of the state. But a strong El Niño historically has increased rainfall across the entire state.

"If that gets locked in place, it can lead to storm after storm after storm," said John Monteverdi, a meteorology professor at San Francisco State University.

With the state in its third straight drier-than-average year, rain in the northern half is particularly important. That's where most of the water supply is stored in the forms of snow, rivers and creeks." via Zero Hedge


Australian Weather Bureau echoes US prediction:

3/25/14, "El Nino likely in 2014, says Australian Bureau of Meteorology," Reuters, Sydney, via India Times

"Climate models show an increased chance of a 2014 El Nino weather event, said Australia's bureau of meteorology, leading to possible droughts in Southeast Asia and Australia and floods in South America, which could hit key rice, wheat and sugar crops.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said an El Nino could occur during the southern hemisphere winter, May-July, with Australian cattle and grain farmers already struggling with drought which has cut production.

The last El Nino in 2009/10 was categorised weak to moderate. The most severe El Nino was in 1998 when freak weather killed more than 2,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage to crops, infrastructure and mines in Australia and other parts of Asia.

"The latest climate model survey...shows that the tropical Pacific is very likely to warm in the coming months, with most models showing sea surface temperatures reaching El Nino thresholds during the southern hemisphere winter," the BOM said in an emailed statement.

Australia's outlook echoes similar forecasts from other weather bureaus in Japan and the United States, which each said an El Nino was increasingly like." via Zero Hedge


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