Overcast and thick looking this early-evening Monday here in California’s Central Valley — no rain right now, but we’ve had a shitload of the stuff the last several days to do a while,
During a heavy-wet storm earlier in the afternoon, there was included some thunder and lightning — an unusual occurrence for us. Not fun.
A display on why there’s not much laughing:
The parade of West Coast storms over the last ten days. pic.twitter.com/vOspSUDwg5
— CIRA (@CIRA_CSU) January 16, 2023
An update of sorts on that video from the Guardian this morning — we’ve been hammered:
The series of storms that have pummeled California since late December have killed at least 19 people, brought hurricane force winds that toppled trees and power lines, cutting energy to thousands, and flooded roads and rivers, covering swaths of land in dense mud and debris that stretches for miles. Entire communities have been forced to evacuate while road closures and power disruptions left some rural regions isolated and almost cut off from the outside world.
Authorities are still documenting the toll of the disaster, an effort that’s been hampered by a fresh onslaught of more storms. Joe Biden has approved emergency declarations from 41 of California’s 58 counties.
“These storms are among the most deadly natural disasters in the modern history of our state,” Nancy Ward, the director of the governor’s office of emergency services said at a briefing on Friday.
After a grueling drought and California’s driest years on record, the latest turn of extreme weather, which some experts have called hydrological “whiplash”, has highlighted the challenges that come with such a rapid deluge, particularly in a state more accustomed in recent years to disasters related to heat and wildfire.
California has received an average of more than 9in of rainfall since late December and some areas have already seen the amount of rain they typically get in the entire year, according to the National Weather Service.
But one of the greatest impacts from the recent weather is also the intense and widespread wind damage that far exceeds that seen during typical wind events, climate scientist Daniel Swain said in a video update on Friday. In central California’s Calaveras county, a tornado with 90mph winds uprooted a barn.
“This has been a deadly storm sequence. The damage will probably be at least in the hundreds of millions if not higher before all is said and done,” Swain said. “And the disruption to people, even people who have stayed relatively safe – there are a lot of folks who have been without power and without road access to where they live for a long time.”
The impacts of the storms have been far-reaching. More than 96,000 people were placed under evacuation orders or warnings as the National Weather Service issued flood watches for roughly 90% of the state’s sprawling population. Hundreds of harrowing water rescues had to be performed by emergency workers as submerged streets shuttered highways and other transportation corridors.
On the central coast, more than 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate seaside towns last week, including all of Montecito – the wealthy community that is home to Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities. Officials in Santa Barbara shut down schools and public transit systems due to the extreme weather. Further south in Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed two cars and flooded a downtown transit hub.
The storm also caused a sewage spill of more than 14m gallons into the Ventura River, prompting authorities to post warning signs along the river and beaches.
And for the immediate future, Shitsville this year as an El Niño is expected to crash the party, creating even more weather problems, not only in that ‘whiplash weather‘ pattern for California, but the impact-rising of climate change going from bad to worse.
Time appears to be running out:
"The probability of having the first year at 1.5C in the next five-year period is now about 50:50.”
— Brian McHugh ????? (@BrianMcHugh2011) January 16, 2023
Again from the Guardian, also earlier this morning, and details on the effect of an El Niño/La Niña collusion:
The return of the El Niño climate phenomenon later this year will cause global temperatures to rise “off the chart” and deliver unprecedented heatwaves, scientists have warned.
Early forecasts suggest El Niño will return later in 2023, exacerbating extreme weather around the globe and making it “very likely” the world will exceed 1.5C of warming. The hottest year in recorded history, 2016, was driven by a major El Niño.
It is part of a natural oscillation driven by ocean temperatures and winds in the Pacific, which switches between El Niño, its cooler counterpart La Niña, and neutral conditions. The last three years have seen an unusual run of consecutive La Niña events.
This year is already forecast to be hotter than 2022, which global datasets rank as the fifth or sixth hottest year on record. But El Niño occurs during the northern hemisphere winter and its heating effect takes months to be felt, meaning 2024 is much more likely to set a new global temperature record.
The greenhouse gases emitted by human activities have driven up average global temperature by about 1.2C to date. This has already led to catastrophic impacts around the world, from searing heatwaves in the US and Europe to devastating floods in Pakistan and Nigeria, harming millions of people.
“It’s very likely that the next big El Niño could take us over 1.5C,” said Prof Adam Scaife, the head of long-range prediction at the UK Met Office. “The probability of having the first year at 1.5C in the next five-year period is now about 50:50.”
“We know that under climate change, the impacts of El Niño events are going to get stronger, and you have to add that to the effects of climate change itself, which is growing all the time,” he said. “You put those two things together, and we are likely to see unprecedented heatwaves during the next El Niño.”
The fluctuating impacts of the El Niño-La Niña cycle could be seen in many regions of the world, Scaife said. “Science can now tell us when these things are coming months ahead. So we really do need to use it and be more prepared, from having readiness of emergency services right down to what crops to plant.”
Prof James Hansen, at Columbia University, in New York, and colleagues said recently: “We suggest that 2024 is likely to be off the chart as the warmest year on record. It is unlikely that the current La Niña will continue a fourth year. Even a little futz of an El Niño should be sufficient for record global temperature.” Declining air pollution in China, which blocks the sun, was also increasing heating, he said.
The scale of the likely El Niño was as yet unclear. Prof Andy Turner, at the University of Reading, said: “Many seasonal forecast models are suggesting the arrival of moderate El Niño conditions from summer 2023.” The picture would be much clearer by June, the scientists said.
The El Niño-La Niña phenomenon is the biggest cause of year-to-year differences in weather in many regions. In La Niña years, the east-to-west Pacific trade winds are stronger, pushing warm surface waters to the west and drawing up deeper, cooler water in the east. El Niño events happen when the trade winds wane, allowing the warm waters to spread back eastwards, smothering the cooler waters and leading to a rise in global temperatures.
“The effects of El Niño could also be felt as far as the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes, with a likelihood of wetter conditions in Spain from summer onwards and drier conditions on the eastern seaboard of the US in the following winter and spring,” said Turner.
All this shit and the oceans this year are the hottest ever — via The Washington Post last week:
The amount of excess heat buried in the planet’s oceans, a strong marker of climate change, reached a record high in 2022, reflecting more stored heat energy than in any year since reliable measurements were available in the late 1950s, a group of scientists reported Wednesday.
That eclipses the ocean heat record set in 2021 — which eclipsed the record set in 2020, which eclipsed the one set in 2019. And it helps to explain a seemingly ever-escalating pattern of extreme weather events of late, many of which are drawing extra fuel from the energy they pull from the oceans.
“If we keep breaking records, it’s kind of like a broken record,” said John Abraham, a climate researcher at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and one of the authors of the new research published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
A primer per NOAA:
Rain and hotter rain, yet once again here we are…
(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Hell Canto 2: Giants,’ found here.)