July 1, 2016
by Historical Climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss & Climatological Analyst James J. Garriss
The giant warm El Niño that brought a mild winter and wet spring is gone. The cool, dry La Niña is coming. In between the two is La Nada – “The Nothing.”
Welcome to a whole lot of Nothing.
Enjoy it while it lasts, because most experts think it will be over by the end of August. Historically, when the Tropical Pacific has a strong El Niño heating one-tenth of the Earth’s surface, the cooling process moves with whiplash speed. The ocean goes from one extreme to another and a La Niña forms a few months later. The weather it creates goes from one extreme to another.
In between is “normal” weather. Notice, we are still in a period of time with severe weather events, like tornadoes and floods, but they are just not as predictable.
There are some patterns that will be predictable. El Niños are very wet and tend to supply timely moisture throughout the growing season. Scattered rains on the Great Plains are good for most pasturelands and August usually gets ideal moisture for soybean maturation. Summer tends to have normal to cooler than normal conditions, so crops and livestock have less heat stress.
Normal means hotter and drier and we have already seen a 12% increase in dry to drought-stricken areas here in the US. The increase has not been in the already dry Southwest, but elsewhere, in the Midwest, Central Plains Pacific Northwest and parts of the South. These are short-term dryness, most areas still have filled reservoirs and good subsoil moisture – but it’s time to start managing the remaining water. Good management keeps a slight dry spell from being a screaming drought headline later.
Meanwhile – a quiet science headline in California is reporting a new technology that has found an extraordinary large supply of California water. When the price of water went up, science started to develop new ways to find it. I’ll report the good news in the next blog. So manage your water supplies and watch the science. There is exciting new hope out there! -TBB
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