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Monday, August 4, 2014

Winter 2014/2015; Anything but Certain

Back in May I received a preliminary ENSO report from a commodity trader. That report called for an epic El Nino starting in July. By epic I mean stronger than strong. Because of our recent dry conditions, I decided to hold off on telling you all to get ready for the 2014/2015 ski season that is sure to be the greatest. I am glad I held off.

Briefly: El Nino is a weather anomaly where waters off the west coast of Central America (Equatorial Pacific) warm. When that happens a number changes are supposed to take place in the atmosphere, starting with a reversal of the trade winds. That reversal of the winds usually brings wetter and warmer storms further south into California. That has yet to materialize. Because of the lack of storms this time of year, you may be saying, what is he talking about? I am not talking about the storms I am talking about the trade winds and the southern jet stream which are still on their traditional course, the westerlies have simply failed to materialize (yet).

The ENSO forecasters at NOAA have tampered down their forecast calling for a short lived, weak El Nino to start in the fall, which could (not likely) develop into a moderate El Nino.

Does any of this matter for Tahoe? In a word, no. El Nino has a much more profound effect for central and southern California. For the most part we would have a slightly warmer winter with slightly more precipitation ... at least that has been the average since we started tracking El Nino's. Hey, at least it is not a La Nina, where we would have slightly cooler winter with slightly less precipitation. Of course anybody with even a reasonable memory knows that is bunk! Recall back to the good old days; winter of 2010/2011. That was a very strong La Nina year. One of the strongest on record. That was supposed to mean dry, dry and more dry for California. However, we shattered our snowfall record. Ski patrol told me that parts of Squaw Valley picked over 800 inches of snow that winter. So much for the Ninos!

I hate to muddy the waters and I will continue to watch this closely, but my gut tells me we are in for a big winter. The reason I say that is simple; we are due. Weather is never normal it is always average. We have been way below average for the last 3 years, prior to that we were way above average. Plants are blooming much earlier this year and this is the rainiest summer that we have had in decades. I have even seen large flocks of black birds heading south, 2 months early.

We are due, but that is anything but certain!

Stay Tuned ...

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