Californians brace for the forecast of wet weather due to the apparent temperature increase from a rumored El Niño. But what really is El Niño? On Monday, November 2, Christian Brothers students were surprised by a rare flash of rain and a grand total of almost a whopping 1/2 an inch of water falling from […]
Californians brace for the forecast of wet weather due to the apparent temperature increase from a rumored El Niño. But what really is El Niño?
On Monday, November 2, Christian Brothers students were surprised by a rare flash of rain and a grand total of almost a whopping 1/2 an inch of water falling from the sky. With California approaching its fifth year of severe drought, a practically nonexistent fall has left Sacramento residents to sweat through October’s above average temperatures.
Headlines have continued to pop up with increased frequency about an El Niño, a weather anomaly rumored to be the root of California’s recent problematic weather. Forecasters have predicted that the 2015-2016 El Niño will be the most violent in recent history. But with a lack of an established pattern, the potential anomaly has only raised doubts.
El Niño is apart of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with the first notable symptom of the cycle typically a prolonged warming of at least 0.5º Celsius of Pacific Ocean temperatures. Scientists collect data from the upper 656 feet of the ocean, classifying the warming as El Niño conditions after seven to nine months, later changing it to an El Niño episode if it continues.
Accompanying the increase of temperature is weakened trade winds in the central and western Pacific. Clouds and rainstorms shift toward the east, most recently diverting essential storms from California. Weather all over the planet is affected from the energy released into the atmosphere by the water, most notably contributing to a more-active tropical storm season.
Scientists have struggled to predict El Niños in the past because no firm pattern has been established as it pops up at irregular intervals every two to seven years, lasting sometimes nine months or even two years. The only confirmed information known today is that the anomaly occurs more often than its sister system, La Niña.
Originally known as El Niño de Navidad, the occurrence was named by Peruvian fishermen in the 1600s due to its tendency to arrive around Christmas. Evidence of the cycle’s history has been found in ice cores, deep sea muds, coral, caves and tree rings, but the most violent El Niño in recent history shook the world in 1997-98.
An estimated 16% of the world’s reef systems died due to an extreme warming of the oceans. Widespread drought, flooding, and other natural disasters across the globe found a source of blame in the change of conditions. In California, record rainfalls pelted the coast and caused damage to many cliffs, tossing many houses into the sea. The estimated cost of the worldwide damage totaled $10 billion dollars. Scientists believe that this years El Niño episode could potentially be even worse than the 1997-98.
A noticeably chilly front has rolled into Sacramento recently, coating the mountains with feet of much needed snow.
“El Niño is definitely real. I mean, have you seen how cold it has been lately.” Mackenzie Brown (’17) tells the Talon.
“Weather is always hard to predict, but certainly the rains are welcome.” says Mr. Steve Barsanti (’78), CB’s Head of Facilities. CB attempts to conserve water by constantly monitoring the weather to avoid turning on the sprinklers and wasting water. Water conservation has been a constant goal at CB, with changes made in watering of the athletic fields, and even being conscious about the best water saving cleaning supplies.
“In the past two years we have made sure to replace and repair roofs to prevent leaks,” Mr. Barsanti revealed. The maintenance crew spends hours maintaining walkways, downspouts and gutters to keep the campus safe during a down poor. Mr. Barsanti urges students to be careful, especially when driving and walking around campus.
With rain in the forecast this week and next, only time will tell if the rumored “Godzilla” El Niño will actually occur.