Climate: Is this year’s El Niño here to stay?

Forecasters nearly certain pattern will persist at least through the end of summer and probably to the end of the year

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Warm sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific show the shape of El Niño.

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A classic El Niño sea surface temperature pattern is projected in this map from NOAA.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A developing Pacific El Niño is already affecting weather patterns across the western U.S. by bringing abundant spring moisture to the region, including late season snow and rain to parts of parched California.

And last week meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said El Niño is likely to stick around for the summer and probably even through the end of the year, perhaps even gaining strength. More on the forecast in this NOAA El Niño blog.
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Climate: April ends up as 17-warmest on record

Heat shifts from Far West to Southeast

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Much of the U.S. was warmer than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Last month ended up as the 17-warmest April on record, with an average temperature for the 48 contiguous states at 53.1 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the warmest April since 2012, according to the new monthly State of the Climate summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Continue reading

Study eyes Pacific warm water ‘blob’ as drought driver

‘This is a taste of what the ocean will be like in future decades’

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Exceedingly high water temperatures in the eastern Pacific have persisted for several years, influencing weather across western North America and beyond.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate scientists have long known that the West has experienced significant long-term droughts during past millennia, but they don’t know exactly why. Understanding the cause may be more important now, given the huge impacts of the current drought in California, so researchers have been focusing on a huge mass of warm water hugging the West Coast.

Those conditions may be linked with a relatively unknown decadal weather pattern called the North Pacific Mode, which may be a significant weather driver, along with the El Niño-La Niño oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, according to the University of Washington’s Dennis Hartmann. Continue reading

Major water woes looming in the West

Record low streamflows expected in many areas this summer

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Precipitation for the 2015 water year- to-date is now below normal over most of the West except for some northwestern areas. The dry March has significantly affected this picture since a month ago, when far more of the West was near normal.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Federal water watchers say their April 1 readings show that precipitation thus far in the 2015 water year (beginning October 1, 2014) is now below normal over most of the West except for some northwestern areas and coastal Alaska.

Snowpack has declined significantly since last month throughout the West due to the warm and dry March. Only high- elevation areas in the Rocky Mountains and Interior Alaska retain somewhat near normal snowpack.

Streamflow forecasts have dropped since last month due to a lack of snow accumulation during March and an early snowmelt, with most regions now expecting below normal streamflow. Reservoir storage is currently below normal in the Southwest and Nevada, with near to above normal storage elsewhere. Continue reading

Climate Change: New study enables detailed projections of coral reef bleaching

More information equals more conservation options

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Bleached white corals in the Cheeca Rocks area of Florida. Photo via NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — After issuing a general warning about the potential for widespread coral reef bleaching this year, federal scientists now say they have the ability to make more detailed projections about the timing and geographic distribution of such events.

The concerns this summer focus around emerging El Niño conditions, which could overheat parts of the world’s oceans that have already been hovering at near-record temperatures. Most coral reefs in  the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, but if scientists can pinpoint the timing, it gives them more conservation options. Continue reading

El Niño arrives – better late than never?

Impacts unclear, though Gulf Coast could see rain surplus

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NOAA’s El Niño map shows widespread above-average sea surface temperatures.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A long overdue El Niño once anticipated as a potential drought-buster for California has emerged, but may not have a huge impact on North American weather.

Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center made the announcement this week after measuring ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific. Those temps have been running above average for several months but just now crossed the El Niño threshold. the climate experts said in their monthly outlook. Continue reading

Climate study predicts doubling of extreme La Niñas

Will global warming intensify extreme weather swings?

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How will climate change affect ENSO?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming could increase the frequency of extreme La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean, with more droughts in southwestern United States, floods in the western Pacific regions and increased Atlantic hurricane activity.

The international study, published in Nature Climate Change, used advanced modeling to show how increased land-area heating, combined with more frequent El Niños, will feed a cycle of extreme La Niñas. Continue reading

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