El Niño the ‘Mercurial’

February 18, 2016

CC_El_NinoRainy, windy and chilly, all at the same time this late Thursday morning here on California’s north coast as our wet season continues after a nice, warm respite the last couple of weeks.
Despite some heavy rain on occasion, and according to the NWS, wind gusts to 45 mph, this storm doesn’t seem intense as before our dry-warm intermission.

Maybe the sucker-punch is played out (the Guardian): ‘The WMO’s new secretary general, Petteri Taalas, said: “In meteorological terms, this El Niño is now in decline. But we cannot lower our guard as it is still quite strong and in humanitarian and economic terms, its impacts will continue for many months to come.”

(Illustration: El Niño last August, via NOAA, found here).

Although we had some decent rain in December and on into January, record snow, too, but then like a faucet quickly closed, the rainstorms halted, and warm sunshine. Despite the big dumps, especially up here in the northern part of the state, restocking reservoirs and with a snowpack of 115 percent of normal, apparently the strong is now weak.

Odd this El Niño — the power misdirected — some details at yesterday’s Mashable:

Regardless of how the rest of the rainy season goes, this El Niño has already proven the weather forecaster’s adage that no two El Niño events are exactly alike.
Most of southern California’s rainfall during a major El Niño in 1982-83 came in January of 1983.
During the 1997-98 event, most of the storms struck in February.
This year, well, Californians are still waiting.

The second week in February saw record high temperatures across California, including some overnight low temperatures that were 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit above average for that time of year.
On Feb. 9, for example, Santa Ana, California set a record high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the daily record and tying the all-time monthly high temperature record for that location as well.
In some parts of the state, snow cover has been receding at a time of year when it should still be building up.
Still, it’s only mid-February, scientists caution, and a wet late February, March and even April could make up for the relative lack of storminess compared to past El Niño events.
The weather so far this winter demonstrates that, like people, each El Niño event has its own personality.
This one, in particular, may be more mercurial than most.

Mike Halpert, the director of the Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said that while this event is on par with the top El Niño events in terms of the sea surface temperature anomalies and atmospheric changes that result from it, there are important differences.
“The impacts have evolved much differently,” he said.
“There’s no firm answers as to why it’s different.”

Typically, during El Niño winters, this enhanced jet stream will develop north of the equator and take on a more west-to-east, or “zonal,” orientation.
This configuration of the jet stream winds is what steers storms into California and other parts of the Southwest.
This year, though, the southern branch of the jet stream has been shunted north of its typical El Niño configuration.

Yes, “Are you also divergent, friend?

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