Monster El Nino: More heat & Less Rain for Australia

Conditions that have been nullifying the impact of the current monster El Nino have suddenly retreated.  We can expect worsening drought and bushfire threat.

The Indian Ocean has suddenly gone from masking to reinforcing the El Nino impact in Australia.  The main shift has been in the temperatures of the Indian Ocean, with the eastern region rapidly cooling off compared with the west, a pattern that tends to choke off rainfall streaming across the Australian continent from north-west Western Australia.

Melbourne had its hottest maximum so early in October on Monday, with 34.4 degrees, only to set a new mark just a day later with 35.8 degrees.

Sydney had its hottest trio of days so early in the warming season, with the spell broken only by a strong southerly buster on Wednesday morning.

The exceptional heat – in places 15 degrees or higher than average for October – combined with Australia’s third-driest September to create very high fire danger levels in five states early this week.  Dozens of fires were burning have erupted in Victoria.

The Age: Peter Hannan: 8 Oct 2015

Los Angeles Time: 10 Oct 2015

El Niño’s signal in the Pacific now is stronger than it was in 1997, which was the summer in which the most powerful El Niño on record developed.

This site has a video of El Nino 1997 verses 2015.  Side by side you can see day by day how Pacific Ocean heat changed in 1997 and 2015 as the El Ninos developed.

The strengthening El Niño in the Pacific Ocean has the potential to become one of the most powerful on record, as warming ocean waters surge toward the Americas, setting up a pattern that could bring once-in-a-generation storms this winter to drought-parched California.

At the moment, this year’s El Niño is stronger than it was at this time of year in 1997. Areas in red and white represent the highest sea-surface heights above the average, which reflect how warm sea-surface temperatures are above the average. (Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert)

A strong El Niño can shift a subtropical jet stream that normally pours rain over the jungles of southern Mexico and Central America toward California and the southern United States.

But so much rain all at once has proved devastating to California in the past. In early 1998, storms brought widespread flooding and mudslides, causing 17 deaths and more than half a billion dollars in damage in California. Downtown L.A. got nearly a year’s worth of rain in February 1998.

Key Words: Climate Change, Extremes
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