Sunday, January 17, 2010


An El Nino year

I had heard early last fall that we were expecting to have an El Nino year weather wise this year, although it wasn't expected to start until after Thanksgiving, near the end of November. I guess it has arrived although we have also been wetter than usual and El Nino usually brings us warmer, dryer weather than normal. I guess it depends on where you look. Here in the lowlands of Western Washington State along the northern part of Puget Sound, we have had twice the amount of precipitation that we would normally have in the first part of a year. We have the Olympic Mountain range to the west of us and the snowpack there is above normal. To the east of us is the Cascade Mountain range and the snowpack there is below normal. Here is a photo of the hill to the east of my home that was taken about New Years Day 2008 (Jan 1st) and it shows the snow that was on that hill at that time:
Snow pics 01
Last year we had a lot of snow and this hill had visible snow on it from early in December until probably late February. This year there have been a couple of mornings when there was a dusting of snow up there but nothing that stuck around very long and right now it is totally bare clear up to the top.

While we have been seeing record cold and snow levels in much of the eastern part of the country, we have been warmer (and strangely, wetter) than normal. There were a couple of days this past week when our high temp hit 60 or over and even the overnight lows were all above 50. I know this affect is from El Nino out on the Pacific Ocean and I guess that is what is causing the excess' of winter back east. Our biggest problems right now with it are coming from saturated ground on slopes that are sliding down in mudslides. Friday the US-2 highway just west of one of our favorite little towns to visit, Leavenworth, WA, was closed when a large boulder came crashing down onto the roadway. I've seen photos of it on the TV news- about 25 feet long, 20 feet wide and 15 feet high. It totally covered both lanes of the roadway and caused a crater that is 3 to 5 feet deep under it. There are cracks in the road surface that extend up to 100 feet away from the rock. This is a main east/west corridor across our state and it is closed for a week or so until it can be repaired.

Other roads around our area have been closed due to mudslides & flooding and some will not open for awhile because they are worried about trying to clear them until the rainfall slows down. As I said earlier, this year's El Nino has been a bit different. Too bad we can't just direct the jet stream to deliver the clouds and rainfall to where it is needed! And just leave the cold weather up north.

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Usually when El Nino is about, out here in western Canada we have milder winters. Our winter started off FREEZING in early December but my-oh-my has it ever been a warmer January!
too bad we can't control our weather but that's one thing nobody has figured out. If we really are entering a time of general climate change, nobody knows what that will mean given the short duration of weather reporting-- even when you consider fossil records.
The North Cascades have always been a little dodgy. In The White Cascade by Gary Krist he describes what can happen up there. It's a pretty good read too.

Last year we got the cold and the warm weather was drawn up the East Coast to fill the vacuum. This year it turns around. That seems to be the usual pattern these days.

2009 went down as the wettest year on record for Arkansas. December into January 2010 brought us record low temps and it didn't get above freezing here for nearly 3 weeks, which is unusual for us. We get cold weather and even below 0 temps but not usually for extended periods. This past year into the New Year has been a strange duck, weather wise.

I enabled comment verification because of the dratted spammers. It doesn't bother me to type in the words, nor does the comment approval thing.

Have a great new week, Dick, whatever the weather may bring. :o)

Love and hugs,

El Nino has been very good to Whistler. It snows on the mountains almost everyday and then switches to clear skies. Great time to head north and get your winter activities on the go!

J. McCartney
We've had pretty unusual weather over here in the UK too, with so far the coldest winter for a lot of years. We've actually had large amounts of lying snow over the whole of the country, whuch I never remember happening before. Strange things are afoot!!

I'm hoping for some nice weather when I'm over there in a couple of months...some snow on the Cascades would be nice because I want to ski, but I hope the roads etc are clear. Guess I don't want much really!! :)

Have a lovely weekend.

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