After so much hype (that actually started well over a year and a half ago before El Nino's 2014 false start) people are asking, so, where's the rain!? True, we did get some showers for a couple hours over the weekend followed by a soaking drizzle last night into this morning, but when we consider the time of year and compare what is "normal" for it (much less during a supposedly strong El Nino) we are, for yet another year, well below average in the rainfall department. As a matter of fact Los Angeles has currently experienced just 27% of average rainfall to date. Taking a look at the previous strong El Nino of 1997-1998 by this time of year the buckets of downtown LA had already accumulated more than 4.5 inches of rain during the months of November and December alone. This year, during this same time, they've picked up a little over half an inch.
So the question remains - what gives, or rather, what has not?
The answer reminds me of a facebook relationship status option some years back: "it's complicated".
To get the answers we have to look Above!
The way the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomena works (according to the best theory to date) is that the waters along the equator from South America toward the east all the way to Indonesia to the west are typically not equally warm everywhere. This is because under "normal" weather patterns that are experienced most of the time much cooler waters are commonplace along the coast of South America because of what is known as "upwelling" water that is chilly coming up from deep under the sea due to the prevailing wind and ocean current patterns. However, for reasons that are not really understood, every once in a while (maybe every 2 to 7 years or so) the wind and ocean currents switch around and (to keep things simple for this explanation) the normally cool water is replaced by much warmer H2O in its place. This warming, if it's persistent enough and covers enough area, is what is classified as "El Nino". Now, because of the sensitive design of the ocean/atmosphere system and their constant interaction these warm waters are believed to begin influencing the atmosphere and a response is initiated. Well, we've got the warm waters in place but it seems the atmosphere (at least over a large part of the Pacific) has yet to pick up the cue. It's not that it hasn't got the message, rather, it has been getting other messages at the same time.
Actually, there are several competing factors involved, that, when looked at holistically, are the best theoretical explanation as to why the jet stream (otherwise known as the storm track) has not at all assumed the position so many meteorologists and climatologists have long associated with ENSO and have been expecting since the start of Autumn this year.
Is this a cunning excuse to defend so many of us in the business of weather? Perhaps, but even more so an obvious lesson and a friendly reminder as to where the shots are called from, who runs the show and whose stuck with the incomplete picture (us being represented by the latter).
So where do we go from here?
It's said that a weatherman is perhaps the only job where one can be wrong so often yet still come to work the next day (and try again).
On this site we will primarily try to focus on this year's El Nino's effects on SoCal and track the latest developments.
Now let's look a little higher...