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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

El Niño Predicted a Year in Advance

The world is in a crisis of bad weather. Extremes of climate are becoming regular phenomena. While coastal eastern Australia is getting unprecedented levels of rain. inland there is a drought. We have a drought even though El Niño has not been in effect for years. It could be said that the rain on the coast is caused by La Nina. This does not explain "the dry" inland. Where once weather could be clearly predicted by the El Niño/La Niña cycle, this is no longer the case.

Improvement in weather forecasting now helps in knowing a year in advance whether El Niño or La Niña will be dominant. An El Niño is due. The US would be pleased to get some relief from damaging drought and fires. Australia's last drought was severe. The Queensland government invested heavily in water catchment and storage. When La Niña arrived the government was condemned and even ridiculed for "wasting" money. At the time the investment was deemed necessary by government and constituents alike.

Knowing what will happen a year in advance and preparing for the consequences are not ordinarily done. We usually take action after the fact. There is a lot of inertia out there. People have short memories. When El Niño arrives grass pastures will turn to dust and water rationing will return as well. Australia has historically experienced climatic extremes. This will not change.
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