Editorial: Weird weather

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Friday, June 6, 2014


DON'T be fooled by the four nights of very heavy downpour and the thick clouds hovering above us. Just remember, it is already June and rain should have been more often, much heavier, and yes, the sun shouldn’t be this hot.

But the rain fall in torrents for an hour or two and the sun dries up everything overnight, and the warning about the possibility of an El Nino coming is now not just a 50-50 chance, but it’s now up 70 percent, states the most recent El Niño/Southern Oscillation (Enso) Diagnostic Discussion issued by US/Climate Prediction Center and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

The above average sea surface temperature (SST) that weather forecasters keep a keen eye on to check out on Enso, has expanded over the equatorial Pacific Ocean last month, the report says. It also pointed out that all Nino indices increased during the same month. The 30 percent doubt that El Nino will be developing full-blown is that the subsurface temperature anomalies have decreased between April and May. The anomalies they are watching out for are noticeable changes in temperatures that are not along the normal range. In the earlier diagnostic discussion, the CPC noted that while the SSTs were not yet showing full-strength El Nino ahead, the subsurface temperatures were much hotter than normal. Thus, the forecasters feared that should these streams of subsurface temperature rise to the surface, then it bodes bad for the weather.

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Now the SST is above average and it has widened, but the subsurface temperature has started to drop. There’s a "but" there and that is that the subsurface temperature still reflect a large pool of above-average temperatures at depth. Put in near average low-level winds over the tropical Pacific (that includes us) and a near average convection across most of the tropics shows a baffling lack of response of the other weather components to the high SST. El Nino or no El Nino, it’s still up in the air, although yes, in our part of the world, the indications show the greater likelihood of an El Nino. The good news? It looks like it’s not going to be the Super El Nino that the earlier subsurface sea temperatures were showing. But the likelihood is there, this time in moderate strength. For farmers, this is just as bad.

As it is now, one day of sunlight could already dry up plants. Now imagine if you’re tending to plants at farm size and getting this much sunlight and not have a rain tonight. Big problem.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 07, 2014.

Opinion

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