Right Opinion

Disaster Du Jour, Part II

Joe Bastardi · Jun. 2, 2015

I want to share this with you. It’s excerpted in large part from a post at weatherbell.com. For many it might be a little too technical, but I think you will get the main message after the initial explanation of what we are seeing going forward with the evolving El Niño.

The forecasted strength of El Niño is backing down a bit, but still hits a two-degree positive anomaly in ENSO 3.4 on the U.S.-generated CFSv2.

We believe this is too strong.

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) near Australia are not nearly as cold this year compared to 1997.

1997 (left) vs. 2015 (right)

This limits a crucial linking factor known as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which in 1997 was already much lower at this time.

Here’s where it stands this year:

We believe this year will be similar to the 1957 and 1965 ENSO peaks. In the case of 1957, it was a strong event with an anomaly of 1.8.

Lo and behold, guess what is showing up again: A similarity to the 1950s, which people pushing disaster du jour either have no idea about, or do and try to hide it.

We have an amazing linkage to the 1950s. The drought of the early part of that decade, which we have showed countless times is linked to the same kind of PDO flip we recently had, was worse than the drought that was heralded as the new dustbowl.

Summer rainfall rates 1952-1954:

Summers of 2010 and 2012:

Spring 1957:

This year:

One can see that the lack of rain in those summers and the amount of rain in bounce-back year of 1957 was more extreme in the larger sense than what we saw recently. It is true in individual sites this year that there are some all-time wettest springs. But overall it is not true that this reversal is more extreme. Look at the area of dry in the 1950s versus the “New Dustbowl Drought” three years ago, and then look at how much wetter it was in the spring of 1957 in a larger area, including the Gulf. Think about this. Three years after the dry spell, the spring rains of 1957 wiped it out. The pattern is similar now. We started picking up more rain last year (and we wrote about it), and three years later the spring rains came. Just like clockwork! Moreover, CO2 was far lower in the 1950s; it’s just that Pacific SST’s were oscillating in a similar fashion to now!

That said, there is one event in 1957 that had never been seen before and hasn’t been seen since; an event so off the charts, in my opinion, that I would not believe it if it had not been recorded: Category 4 Hurricane Audrey with 145 mph winds making landfall on the southwest Louisiana coast IN JUNE OF 1957!. Not only is it the only category four storm on record in June, but a storm making landfall at that strength in June boggles the mind. In baseball terms, that’s like hitting a walk-off grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series while standing on your head, considering the closest parallel in June was Hurricane Alma in 1966 that reached Florida as a Category 2.

You can see why I am the way I am when I hear people making outlandish claims. It takes no time for me to go right to the maps to pull out something more extreme. The drought in the 1950s was worse. The area of heavy rain, which included the Gulf states in the spring of 1957, was larger and had much more implication.

Hurricane Audrey never fails to leave me in awe of what the weather can do ( to me she should be renamed AWEdrey. That some people seem to have no idea of this, or simply wish to ignore it if they do, speaks volumes as to what we are dealing with today when it comes to the climate issue. Is their stance an honest argument, delusion, or deception? The reader can make the call.

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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