“One need only think of the weather, in which case the prediction ever for a few days ahead is impossible.”
– Albert Einstein
If one of the greatest minds all time, Albert Einstein, was perplexed over weather predictions, is there a chance us “science-mortals” will ever get it right? Here was a man who formulated the Theory of Relativity, but believed weather prediction beyond a few days impossible. Hmmm … this may be the case, but nothing will stop meteorologists and others from speculating as to the outcome of this year’s rainy season.
So far, we are off to a good start. On Sunday afternoon a storm cell settled over the foothills bringing thunder, lightening and a blanket of hail. So far this year’s rain total stands at 3.15 inches with more due this weekend.
Last year, December 2010 was highly unusual. With a La Niña pattern in place, a dry winter was expected. Instead it became one of the wettest Decembers on record for our area with nearly a year’s worth of rain falling in just one month. So here we go again, with conditions similar to those of last year. Will Southern California get drenched again?
Let’s start with all the contributing factors that come into play here.
A key player in Southern California weather is the famed “Pineapple Express.” As you might expect, its origin is the Hawaiian Islands. When a strong flow of tropical moisture-laden air travels eastward from this region and arrives on the U.S. west coast, rainfall totals soar. This occurred in 2010 and may repeat this season.
The next factor already in place is La Niña, which is associated with colder than normal ocean waters in the equatorial Pacific, influencing weather worldwide. According to Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, there is a “wild card” that could “overwhelm or amplify La Niña’s typical impacts” this winter. This is the complicated and hard to predict Arctic Oscillation. It can produce dramatic and short-lived temperature fluctuations.
At the North Pole there is a constant shifting of high and low pressure. Last year and this, it has been in a “negative phase.” This simply means high pressure in the Arctic pushing cold air into the U.S. from Canada. JPL climatologist Bill Patzert believes this also contributed to the weather patterns, keeping storms further to the south – i.e. more rain for us. Will this be the case this year? With all the variables and possible outcomes, weather-related scientists are keeping close watch this year.
Warmer breezy days are expected to be replaced by a storm late Friday into Saturday. Predictions call for one to three inches of rain with below normal temperatures for the veterans holiday weekend, with daytime highs around 60 and nighttime in the low 40s. Partly cloudy and cool define the weather into next week.
Dry out your umbrella – you may need it by the end of next week!
Most important, at this time is the recognition of our veterans: Thank You!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.