A report about America’s extreme weather. Just the facts, no hype.

Summary: Discovery that weather is the mother lode of clickbait made climate change activism appealing to publishers. As antidote to the weather porn now flooding the internet, here’s a real analysis of recent weather — more understandable than NOAA’s reports, more accurate than the everything is climate change schtick.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

When the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is negative & the Atlantic is warm

North American weather
© Evelyn Browning Garriss/Browning Media. US data: USGS.

 North America Feeling the Extremes

Excerpt from the August 2015 issue of the Browning World Climate Bulletin
Posted with their generous permission.

The drought in the Great Plains is over. Meanwhile, the drought west of the Rocky Mountains is easing in the Southwest and intensifying in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Flooding is dominating the Midwest, but historically eases and permits a large crop followed by a wet, difficult and frequently late harvest.

Ending the Drought

“It takes a flood to end a drought.”
— Attributed to Mark Twain.

Here is the good news – the drought in the plains is over. Here is the bad news – it ended with a flood. North America is once again suffering through a summer of extreme weather.

For four years the US Great Plains have endured a drought. It always included the Southern Plains, Texas, Oklahoma and parts of Kansas and the Desert Southwest. The drought sometimes include large portions of the Midwest and Gulf states. It remained centered in the US, never extending to Canada and only occasionally including Northern Mexico.

This dry weather is part of the “New Normal”, the standard climate for North America when the Pacific is in the Negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). This huge, long-term cycle is centered in the North Pacific and affects the entire ocean. Since the Pacific is slightly greater than 30% of the globe’s surface, it shapes weather all over the Earth, but especially for Pacific Rim nations, including Canada, the US and Mexico.

History of the PDO Index
Nothing unusual here. From JISAO: NOAA and the U of Washington.

In 2004 the US Geological Survey published a study of what historically happens when the PDO is in this phase and the Atlantic is warm. It shows large sections of the US and Canada average dry conditions 20% of the time. Unfortunately, these times usually occur when there is a La Niña and cool, drought-causing La Niñas are more frequent when the PDO is negative. We started to see more La Niñas when the PDO turned negative in 1999 and they have become common after the PDO tipped to the negative phase in 2006.

PDO, from the August 2015 Browning Newsletter.
The PDO now trends negative but turns positive during El Niños.

Beginning in 2011 and continuing until 2013, the Pacific had a La Niña and it brought hard drought to much of the US, particularly Texas. Average weather could not repair the severe water deficits and the drought continued through 2014. As a result, from 2011 to 2014, the drought in the Southern Plains resulted in over 15 billion dollars in damages. This prolonged drought was so severe that it could not end until the recent floods. There is an old adage, “Big droughts end with big floods” and it was true this year.

Indeed, history shows that this pattern has happened in 80% of similar years – years when El Niños combine with unusually cold, volcanic ash/chemical northern air masses. Last October, an El Niño began and by lingering into late springtime, it brought the typical heavy rainfall to the Plains.

… The rainfall is following the historical average almost exactly. By June 1, we warned our clients what would probably happen. That is the pattern that this July has been following.

ONI index from NOAA, as of 10 August 2015
Nothing unusual here. ONI index from NOAA, as of 10 August 2015. Orange is El Nino, blue is La Nina.

East of the Rockies – Wet and Warm

So much rain fell in May that it was the wettest month the Lower 48 had experienced since records began in 1895. Although the rains were beneficial in terms of drought recovery, they also caused record flooding. Lives were lost and property was damaged as the rain fell too quickly for natural and man-made systems to manage. …

Unfortunately, the damaging weather is not over. … Now the Midwest is facing heat and, if history repeats itself, continued rainfall. …

NOAA Drought Outlook: July 2015
NOAA Drought Outlook: July 2015.

West of the Rockies – Dry in the North and a Strong Monsoon in the South

The West has been dominated by drought. California is in a four-year drought. The Southwest, particularly the vital Colorado River Basin, the key source of water for 40 million people, has been suffering for sixteen years. Even Western Canada, which avoided drought throughout most of the decade, is now is the most severe drought in decades.

The problem has been a combination of extraordinarily hot water off the West Coast and a semi-stationary high pressure pattern nicknamed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” or “Triple R”. The heat has increased evaporation while the Triple R steered Pacific storms far to the north. (Normally the high appears in summer but moves away in winter, allowing a winter wet season. For the past few years, it has lingered in place.) Currently, while the growing El Niño condition is not reducing the heat, it is allowing the Triple R to fade. The pattern is still reducing Western Canadian rainfall but it now allows tropical moisture to flow into parts of California and the Southwest.

Canada has received some late July rainfall, but the West is suffering from drought. In British Columbia Victoria Island and the Coastal region, including Vancouver had to declare Category 4 drought. Further east, both Alberta and Saskatchewan are enduring deep drought, with several Alberta counties declaring emergencies and Saskatchewan cattle raisers calling for aid. The crop insurance should help the farmers but cattle raisers are reeling from the double hit of parched pastures and soaring hay prices.

As El Niño has shifted the worst of the drought north, it has allowed the Southwest Monsoon to start early and stay strong. Spectacular thunderstorms have rumbled from the California deserts to West Texas and the Great Plains. On July 6, our hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico, had the heaviest rain in its recorded history – more than two inches in 24 hours with 70 mile per hour gusts of wind. Flood waters ripped through Las Vegas, causing even the most dedicated gamblers to pause. Flash floods have ripped from the coast of California to Texas.

The monsoon season usually lasts through September. However, during El Niño years like this, it is not unusual for the remnants of a Pacific hurricane to get sucked inland. Indeed, in May the monsoon inhaled the remnants of Hurricanes Andres and Blanca, causing heavy rainfall from Santa Barbara, California to Phoenix, Arizona and the Colorado Rockies. The “Miracle May” yielded enough rainfall to allow Californian and Colorado River managers to avoid making draconian supply cuts. Then Hurricane Dolores came along.

California challenges

California here I come. In mid-July Hurricane Dolores was cruising along the Mexican Riviera before being inhaled by the monsoon. Suddenly she was California bound. The result, California was hit with (according to the headlines) “SUPER HISTORIC” rainfall. Los Angeles, San Diego and over a dozen other California cities set all-time rainfall records for the month of July. Interstate Highway 10 from Phoenix to Los Angeles was washed out “completely and indefinitely” according to officials. The 20,000 trucks and cars that use the Insterstate daily will be forced to go hundreds of miles out of their way to find another road.

While the record rainfall was not enough to end or even “dampen” the California drought, it gave citizens of the state enormous hope. Many are counting on an enormous El Niño to bring back the rains and end the water shortages. Unfortunately, this hope is causing many to delay making necessary changes needed to adjust to the new drier reality of the changed Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

This newsletter contains articles, observations and facts to support our contention that humanity is significantly influenced by changing climate. Our calculations show the climate, over the next term, will cause dramatic changes in our social and economic patterns. We feel that readers, attuned to the changes that are occurring, may develop a competitive edge; and, by understanding their current and future environment, can use the momentum of change to their advantage.

 © Evelyn Browning Garriss

 ——————————————————————

Evelyn Browning

About the Browning World Climate Bulletin

For over 35 years, The Browning World Climate Bulletin has been simply the best, most accurate source for long-term climate forecasts. Our subscribers include a diverse group of people and institutions interested in profiting from opportunities presented by changing climate, and those looking to protect their interests that might be affected by changing climate.

They include farmers and ranchers, commodities brokers, large banks and financial institutions, hedge funds, agricultural supply vendors, and people interested in our global climate. See the Bulletin’s website for more information.  Download a sample issue here.

About Evelyn Browning-Garriss

She is a historical climatologist who advises everyone from Texas cattle raisers to Midwestern utilities and Canadian banks about what the coming season will bring. She has spent over 30 years as a business consultant, editor and author explaining the impact of changing climate on economic and social trends. Editor of the Browning World Climate Bulletin, Evelyn has authored or co-authored five books on the changing climate’s impact on water supplies, agriculture, business and terrorism.

For the past 20 years she has taught professional seminars, lectured and/or conducted international seminars in the United States, Canada, England, Singapore, Korea, Central America and the Pacific Islands. In addition to her work as editor of the Browning World Climate Bulletin, she does daily consulting and contract research for businesses and investors.

These sections are reposted from their website.

Clear vision

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this vital issue see The keys to understanding climate change and My posts about climate change. Also, see these posts about droughts:

  1. RecommendedKey facts about the drought that’s reshaping California.
  2. Have we prepared for normal climate change and non-extreme weather?
  3. Let’s prepare for past climate instead of bickering about predictions of climate change.
  4. Droughts are coming. Are we ready for the past to repeat?
  5. Our response to California’s drought shows America at work to enrich the 1%.

The Hydro-Illogical Cycle

From the SPEI website

 

5 thoughts on “A report about America’s extreme weather. Just the facts, no hype.

  1. Again I highly appreciate your data-based discussions, fairly unusual in the internet. We are suffering in Canada with a government intent on shutting down scientifically or statistically valid data collection so that they can then decide on the basis of ideology. Luckily we are having an election in October. Perhaps we will be able to thrown them out.

  2. Is must be hard to find weather information as ‘good’ as the Browning Newsletter. Iben Browning liked to predict things that never happened, such as the 1990 New Madrid non-Earthquake. His daughter continues the family business of selling pricey long-range forecasts to those who play futures. Ironic, since some would gamble everyone’s future on 3rd-rate graphics designed to promote an ‘it’s all cyclical’ glossover.

    1. Jay,

      (1) Thanks for the background color on Iben Browning. The rest of your comment is just odd.

      (2) “on 3rd-rate graphics designed to promote an ‘it’s all cyclical’ glossover.”

      Four of the five graphics shown are from NOAA, either directly or by one of their joint operations with a university. I suggest you send them your complaints (“designed to show”).

      (3) “selling pricey long-range forecasts to those who play futures.”

      Futures trading is one of the most Darwinian fields ever created by humanity. The foolish and unskilled are quickly eliminated with ruthless efficiency. Professionals make a living — usually quite a good living — by finding and using the best information and analytics available, even if quite expensive.

      In a different way, so is agriculture. A few wrong decisions can make the difference between prosperity and ruin. Hence they rely on proven sources of information.

      Trading in agriculture futures is an open admissions game. If you believe you are better than the pros, take some cash and prove it. Report back your results. My guess is that you’ll last a fraction of the time as have the traders subscribing to the Browning newsletter.

      Or you could try producing a competing product, something adding more value than does the Browning newsletter. A few good predictions will make you famous; success will prove profitable. My guess is that you are unable to do so.

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