So I figured since the forecast was pretty…. predictable… I’d focus on something else.
Namely. El Nino.
Synopsis: El Niño is expected to continue strengthening and last through at least the Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-2010.
Expected El Niño impacts during November 2009-January 2010 include enhanced precipitation over the central tropical Pacific Ocean and a continuation of drier-than-average conditions over Indonesia. For the contiguous United States, potential impacts include above-average precipitation for Florida, central and eastern Texas, and California, with below-average precipitation for parts of the Pacific Northwest. Above-average temperatures and below-average snowfall is most likely for the Northern Rockies, Northern Plains, and Upper Midwest, while below-average temperatures are expected for the southeastern states.
I’m sure there will be a few rolled eyeballs at the ‘below-average’ wording :). We’ve been in a mild-to-moderate El Nino and certainly haven’t been below average in precip by any stretch of the imagination. But, maybe this will mean we’ll have a dryer winter than usual. We’ll see.
I also wanted to mention the new minimum for November that was reached in the Arctic this past week. I highly recommend reading Dr. Jeff Masters post on the subject. It’s very thorough and enlightening, but I wanted to highlight this part especially about how the changing ice conditions are changing weather patterns.
Sea ice loss causes stronger storms in the Arctic
The stronger storms over the Arctic Ocean this fall were due, in part, to the loss of sea ice. In a 2009 article titled, Extraordinary September Arctic sea ice reductions and their relationships with storm behavior over 1979-2008, Simmonds and Keay found that September storms over the East Arctic intensified by about 1 mb over the past 30 years and had grown about 50 miles larger in diameter, thanks to all the extra heat energy supplied by more open water due to recent losses in Arctic sea ice. These stronger storms may create a positive feedback loop that will lead to even more sea ice loss: reduced sea ice drives stronger storms, whose winds break up sea ice, creating even more warm water to feed stronger storms with stronger winds, and so on. Now that the arctic sea ice is 48% thinner than 30 years ago, this effect will increase in importance, since thinner ice breaks up more readily in strong winds.
It is now expected that the Arctic will be completely ice free in summer no later than 2030. (originally the predictions were 2050 or later)
Imagine. September 2030… my son will be 24 years old. And there will be no ice in the Arctic. None. For the first time in millions of years.