Atmosphere And Weather

Weather Events

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El Nino . . . in Spanish, "The Christ Child". So named, in the 1800's, by the fishermen of Peru who noticed the event always occurred around Christmas time . . . thus the name. But the phenomena is hardly an innocent El Nino . . . " a little boy". It causes severe climatic changes around the globe.

So who or what is this El Nino, this little boy who is getting so much attention? It is an oscillation of the ocean-atmospheric system, occurring in the tropical Pacific. Mainly a warming of the oceans surface water. In the scientific community it is known as ENSO, "The El Nino Southern Oscillation". Currently the NOAA, "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration", a U.S. governmental agency, monitors the activity of the tropical Pacific with buoys and by satellite, hoping to be able to predict when an El Nino will occur and how severe it will be.

Scientists began to sit up and take notice, in 1982-83, of the correlation between El Nino and the weather conditions around the globe. Studies have shown, over the last forty years, that El Nino's occur approximately every decade. What NASA refers to as the PDO, "The Pacific Decadal Oscillation". Look at is as, our long-range weather out-look. When El Nino comes calling nasty things are about to happen.

Will it affect you? If so how? The most severe El Nino, since we started recording them, was in 1982-83. The effects were felt in South America, Central America, Australia, the western U.S. coast and the Gulf coast states, the mid-west, and even as far away as New England was affected. Mother Nature unleashed her devastation across the globe. Different areas experienced different results, in some there was drought and wild fires, while in others there were torrential rains, causing massive flooding. Winters were much more severe in some places, setting record snowfall amounts, yet others experienced much milder winters. Mudslides, tornadoes, cyclones, and rivers over flowed their banks; El Nino spared no one. Since then there has been nine El Nino events, each causing the weather to do what we least expected or wanted. The 1982-83 El Nino is estimated to have caused over 8 billion dollars in damages to the United States alone according to the reports from FEMA.

Can we prevent El Nino? No. But with our growing knowledge of the phenomena, we can now know when to expect the weather to change, and be prepared. It is still undetermined with any certainty by the scientific community what causes the mechanism which triggers an El Nino, but as the research goes on perhaps someday we will have the answers.

It's now known "The Christ Child". . . El Nino, our little boy of the South Pacific bears some gifts when he arrives, but none of them will be what we want. Thank goodness he only comes calling about every ten years.

In all of our infinite wisdom

We are but fools in the eyes of God

More about this author: Chuck Harding

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