Yes, this is what a La Niña looks like

Posted on | December 22, 2010 | 3 Comments

Source: NASA. Click on the image for a NASA explanation of the "Pineapple Express," in which a jet stream carries moisture from near Hawaii over the American Southwest.

KQED’s Climate Watch, David Zetland’s Aguanomics, LA Observed and the LA Times are among the websites and news organizations shaking seeming contradictions from their collective umbrellas. Yes, this is a La Niña year, and yes, these are typically drier than normal. This being a far stronger than normal La Niña, chances were strong that it was going to be far drier than the already dry average across the American Southwest.

The short answer to why we’re having such a wet dry year is that we’ve had a rare incursion of a tropical rain system called “the Pineapple Express.” The longer answer might be that it is an indicator of climate change. We are not the only ones experiencing weird weather. From snowbound London, George Monbiot answers critics/skeptics who mistake weather for climate.

The snow outside is what global warming looks like opens: “There were two silent calls, followed by a message left on my voicemail. She had a soft, gentle voice and a mid-Wales accent. ‘You are a liar, Mr Monbiot. You and James Hansen and all your lying colleagues. I’m going to make you pay back the money my son gave to your causes. It’s minus 18C and my pipes have frozen. You liar. Is this your global warming?’ She’s not going to like the answer, and nor are you. It may be yes.”

Click here to keep reading.

Back in wet Los Angeles, yes, this is what this La Niña looks like, oceanographers such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Bill Patzert who spotted it were not wrong or silly, and a Pineapple Express is no assurance that our reservoirs will be full or that addressing water scarcity is no longer the region’s single most critical issue. The best possible outcome of our deluge would be if we had the wit to make policy and infrastructure changes to restore our streams and wetlands and to capture local rainfall instead of funneling it into storm drains while sapping the Sierra and Rockies.

Hat tip to David Zetland for e-mailing the Guardian link.


3 Responses to “Yes, this is what a La Niña looks like”

  1. John Fleck
    December 22nd, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

    It’s also worth noting that you happen to live in the one part of the west experiencing a busted La Nina forecast. Here in New Mexico, the wet-dry line is far to the north, just as one would expect in a typical La Nina year, and the dry stuff extends all the way from Arizona to Florida, with the exception of one wet blog in the Texas panhandle.

    It would be a truly rare seasonal forecast that wasn’t busted *somewhere*. This one just happens to have busted in a place where a lot of people live.

  2. Chris Brooks
    December 23rd, 2010 @ 8:30 am

    Ditto on John’s comment. SoCal ≠ southwest. It’s still very La Nina-like here in southern Arizona. Also, one week of anomalous weather does not define the season.
    This time of year in SoCal seems there’s always something to complain about in the weather – either floods, fires or droughts. That’s what happens when you get spoiled most of the year 😉

  3. coconino
    December 25th, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    I quite agree with the stream/wetland restoration angle – I spend much of my work time explaining to people that restoring them and reconnecting the floodplain will create more water storage here in NM rather than sending it to Texas – that always gets a smile!

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