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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rain and El Niño/La Niña?

Rain drops on window this morning (early)
I can never remember which one is which. I do recall after this horrible drought of a summer the meteorologist on my favorite station saying we were in for a dry winter. Quick research I find: El Niño = warm Pacific and moist air (floods),  and La Niña = cool Pacific and dry air (drought).

La Niña = Dry, you say? Hmmm....  Hard to imagine when you see photos like this from the Huffington Post:
Houston Texas
The related story from 2/2/12 touts Dallas-Fort Worth area may be out of the drought for now but many areas of Texas are still severely lacking moisture.  I am hoping the rains central Texas has been receiving lately (and on a regular basis, I might add...) will reverse these stories as quickly as the area reservoirs fill.   

NOAA reportings state we are in La Niña, but per this NOAA report dated February13,  2012:
•  La Niña has peaked across the equatorial Pacific.
•  Sea surface temperatures (SST) are at least 0.5°C below average across much of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.
•  Atmospheric circulation anomalies are consistent with La Niña.
• La Niña is expected to transition to ENSO-neutral conditions during March-May 2012.  
So, it seems the weather is changing, again.

More of my research findings just in case you are interested (or bored):

A current NOAA El Niño/La Niña map of the Pacific's temperature here.

I love wikipedia for more specific details on the whole El Niño/La Niña situation:
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a "quasiperiodic periodicity" (irregular intervals) climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacifica Ocean roughly every five years. The Southern Oscillation refers to variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (warming and cooling known as El Niño and La Niña respectively) and in air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific. The two variations are coupled: the warm oceanic phase, El Niño, accompanies high air surface pressure in the western Pacific, while the cold phase, La Niña,  accompanies low air surface pressure in the western Pacific.  Mechanisms that cause the oscillation remain under study.The extremes of this climate pattern's oscillations, El Niño and La Niña, cause extreme weather (such as floods and droughts) in many regions of the world. Developing countries dependent upon agriculture and fishing, particularly those bordering the Pacific Ocean, are the most affected. In popular usage, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is often called just "El Niño". El Niño is Spanish for "the little boy" and refers to the Christ child, because periodic warming in the Pacific near South America is usually noticed around Christmas.  
If you want to know what effects La Niña is forcasted for your area: NOAA site  Plenty of maps and graphs to keep a gardener busy on a rainy "La Niña" day in Texas.

1 comment:

  1. It sure doesn't rain like it did in the 1980's.I think even if we get a strong El Nino,it's going to be dry,but wetter then now.
    We should of never of took down the rain forest.
    How sad we did it to ourselfs,and those trees were 2000 to 3000 years old.