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2015-04-02

NOAA announces El Niño advisory

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

On March 5, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño advisory after months of waiting. Drought plagued states in the American Southwest, including Texas, have been hoping for the appearance of the weather phenonemon. The warmer Pacific waters associated with El Niño often create wetter spring weather for parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
Conditions have apparently been borderline in the Pacific for some months. Unfortunately the 2015 El Niño is relatively weak and "not expected to have substantial and widespread impacts on global weather in the near future," said Deanna Conners, an environmental scientist who holds a PhD in toxicology and a MS in environmental studies, writing for EarthSky on March 15.
Unfortunately for Texas, much of which remains in drought conditions, this El Niño is unlikely to alleviate dry conditions, although the state may have a slightly wetter and cooler Spring than it has had for the past three years. According to the Texas Water Development Board's drought report, much of the central portion of Texas, from the Panhandle east to Dallas and south to Eagle Pass, remains abnormally dry, with swaths in the exceptional drought category. Exceptional drought is the deepest category of drought used in the TWDB's ranking system.
All of Bandera County is under extreme drought conditions. While light rains have greened up grasses, the lack of heavy rainfall events have kept Medina Lake, ponds, streams and the river dry or at low flow levels. Little to no aquifer recharge has taken place.
According to the NOAA, El Niño events reoccur about every two to seven years. The condition occurs when warmer sea temperatures on the surface in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean along the equator.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography said, "Typically, the ocean surface warms up by a few degrees Celsius. At the same time, the place where hefty thunderstorms occur on the equator moves eastward. Although those might seem like small differences, it nevertheless can have big effects on the world's climate."
NOAA has been observing changing ocean conditions since last fall in anticipation of an El Niño.
Conners said, "Scientists predict that there is a 50 - 60 percent chance that the current El Niño event will continue throughout northern summer of 2015."