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Friday, July 10, 2009

El Nino


In case you missed it, NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, came out with a big announcement: El Nino is here.

El Nino is the periodic warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean. It usually means fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic, and milder winters here in the northeast.

California could be stormier, as if the state already didn't have enough problems. The southwest could be wetter. Florida won't have as many wildfires.

Of course, all of this is a little more than an educated guess, based on the temperature of the ocean, thousands of miles away from your backyard. The last El Nino year was 2006, and I really can't remember if that winter was better or worse than others.

It is what it is. NOAA does a yearly hurricane severity and frequency forecast. It's usually wrong. The experts will tell you a forecast more than seven days out is extremely inaccurate. However, you can look at trends and climatological data for illumination. It's a fun sport.

The year without a summer could also be the year without a winter.