Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hopes of long range change

Welcome to Wednesday! I can't get enough of the 60s that we are having this week in Kansas. For me, 60 and 70 degree weather is just about perfect, but everyone has a little different preference (guess that's why we have thermostat settings in our homes)  We definitely have seen some wild weather in May so far.
There's going to be some chances for spotty rains the next few days. It's only going to be enough to spot up the windshield (if you see anything at all) There are a couple of weak systems coming our way from the northern Rockies that may stir up some of the showers in Kansas. So any activity that you see on the radar will likely be moving southeast and amounts will barely be more than a trace. 

Could there finally be a long term, major shift toward wetter than normal weather coming to Kansas? Honestly, I wish I had an exact "yes" or "no", but if history repeats itself, then we could answer that question with a "yes" and feel very good about how things may begin to change later this summer and into the fall. Most of you have probably heard of El Nino by now. It started getting a lot of discussion back in the late 20th century because it was incredibly strong and had major impacts on the weather picture around the country and world. El Nino is the unusually warm water off the Equatorial Pacific that leads to pattern shifts around the globe. The last big one that we had was back in 1997-98 and this map shows some of the major shifts that took place during that time. 

Impacts from the historic El Nino
A few months ago, an El Nino watch  was issued for much of the country because the satellite imagery is showing a build up of warm water again just off the coast of Peru. Look at the striking similarities to 1997. It's no guarantee that El Nino will show up later this year and even more challenging to forecast how strong it would become, but the chances look to be greater than 50% that we will have an El Nino soon. So what does all of this mean for you? Typically, Kansans should expect near to above normal precipitation during strong El Nino events, and in the wintertime, our temperatures have a tendency to be warmer than average. I did some checking around the state and found that our rainfall during the El Nino of 97-98 was around normal and our winter that year showed above normal temperatures. But if trends continue and we do end up with an El Nino influencing our pattern, it could be the end of the drought for Kansas and much of the western US. I hate seeing anyone deal with flooding or extreme drought, but I think it's time Kansas got back on track with rains and stop looking like a desert in some areas. I don't know for sure, but I think we are on year number 3 or 4 with drought in some areas of the state, and it's devastating. Here's hoping the rains come back soon!!
Water temperatures near the Equator (1997 on the left) compared to this year

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