Thursday, March 10, 2016

What El Nino? Where?

Media which is hyperventilating about El Nino and about “El Nino-driven storms”  has pretty much reached the point of being completely detached from reality. So far this rainy season has not even been of normally wet parameters, and what they should be writing about is the degree to which El Nino has turned out to be a non-event.

California snowpack is at 83% of its normal depth. Overall the state has received 89% of normal rainfall, with 83% for San Diego. Reservoirs statewide which were at 64% of capacity are at 69% now. None of that paints a picture of any sort of cataclysmic deluge, especially since those normals include four years of severe drought.

The last “El Nino storm” which came through San Diego dropped .6” of rain in a two day period. In most years we would not even call that a storm. We would call it “some rain” and it would be reported in the weather segment of the news, not on page one above the fold.

The media runs around and finds one tree that has fallen down, or one stream that has left its banks, and then runs that film clip over and over, giving the impression that the entire state is underwater and/or buried in fallen trees, but these events happen every rainy season in this part of the country, even during drought years. Hell, I’ve seen Eucalyptus trees drop major limbs on a sunny, totally windless day.

Severe storms in the lower Midwest are being connected to El Nino, but I think that is an unwarranted assumption. There are more tornadoes than usual, but they are occurring on fewer days, meaning that there are more occurring in each storm system. That indicates that the systems are more intense, which is almost certainly due to the greater energy content of the atmosphere in general due to climate change. It’s doubtful that El Nino has anything to do with it.

I think the media is writing based on its expectations and its desire for excitement rather than based on any sort of commitment to an informed public.

1 comment:

bruce said...

This El Nino season has turned out about the same as the last one - a dud. Didn't stop the talking heads though.

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