“By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs
now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water;
and again in the fullness of time an outburst of organic life.” ~ John Muir
Memorial Day, often considered the “unofficial first day of summer,” was cloudy and cool. Just as we began to barbecue the sun broke through inviting us to dine outside. Great idea, but the reality was shorted-lived. By the time the chicken came off the grill, the sun and its accompanying warmth had once again disappeared. The evening cooled quickly, but the spirit and meaning of the day was not lost as we moved indoors.
Our holiday weather gave a sobering perspective to conditions to the east of us. Record rainfall across the south central United States including parts of Colorado and northern Mexico caused the loss of life, devastation and people unaccounted for. Flash flooding across Texas and Oklahoma occurred when over a foot of rain fell over the weekend. In addition to even more rain, tornados and “baseball-sized” hail were predicted to continue into this week. Nature has no boundaries or limits; a flood is as likely as a drought with unknown duration. Meteorologists in the region are optimistic, though.
Meteorologist Forrest Mitchell at the NWS in Norman, Oklahoma has this to say: “It looks like the rainfall that we are getting now may actually officially end the drought that has gripped the southern Plains states for years.”
He also noted moisture now reaches about two feet below the soil’s surface. Many lakes and reservoirs have now reached full capacity. Water!
Five years of drought may be coming to an end for Texas and nearby states. Could this be true for California as well? The words of climatologist and oceanographer Bill Patzert from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena hints on an affirmative answer.
“The headlines that you’re writing today about Texas and Oklahoma you could be writing about California in January (2016),” he said.
There are reasons for Dr. Patzert’s guarded optimism.
After four years of drought, relief could be on the way. Many scientists believe there is a strong chance the torrential rains in the southern Plains will head to California if the current El Niño pattern continues to intensify. The Climate Prediction issued an advisory, last week: “…there is an 80% chance El Niño will last through 2015 and into 2016.”
Long-range computer models indicate a progressing moderate-to-strong El Niño come fall and through the winter months. Historically, in California above average rainfall follows.
“A robust El Niño could bring heavy rain to Southern California,” stated Patzert. “But El Niño is hardly a panacea … it won’t bring rain to northern California.” This is a concern because the snowpack accounts for about a third of California’s water supply. The weather news is looking up!
The impending summer is evident as the skies clear and the marine layer shrinks. This weekend’s weather is late – it would have been perfect for Memorial Day with temperatures predicted to reach beyond 90 degrees. Oh, no … not for long.
A glance at the calendar gives us a clue to an upcoming change. Monday is June 1 and gloom is hanging off the coast, waiting to meet the new month.
Welcome “June Gloom!”
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.