Henry Margusity

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What to Blame the Heatwave on? El Nino? Global Warming?

July 10, 2012; 8:45 AM

Commentary

Yesterday, NOAA released a report showing the last 12 months have been the warmest ever across the United States. No real explanation was given as to why the past 12 months were so warm. Recently, we just broke thousands of record highs across the country with many areas topping 100 degrees, the hottest since 1988 and the 1930s according to some. So now we have to blame something for the hot summer and the warm winter.

We live in a society where the only explanation to extreme weather events has to be blamed on something.

The obvious choice is global warming, but even the global warming folks may argue with you that global warming is a long-term effect on the planet and does not really show up in the daily weather patterns.

The global cooling folks will say that the planet as a whole is cool and that the United States being warm is only a small fraction of the land coverage of the globe so it means nothing.

The sun spot folks will say that the sun spot activity and solar flares could be doing it, but there's really no evidence to support that, or is there?

Some will say chaos is causing the weather and stuff happens, so deal with it!

Others may say that it's just a cycle we go through where for a few decades bad things happen.

We also have the conspiracy theories that the government is changing the world's weather. I get a kick out of the people who think that doppler radars are causing HAARP or that airplanes are causing chemtrails. I roll my eyes every time I read those theories.

Then we have the La Nina and El Nino. We know they have an effect on the weather patterns across the planet. We know that we just came out of a strong La Nino, and according to the graph below from the Long Paddock site, the SOI values are crashing and we are heading into an El Nino. Climate models are predicting a moderate to strong El Nino by winter. That's great because at least it will give us something to blame when Los Angeles is underwater or New York City is digging out of 2 feet of snow.

If you look at the graphs below, it's really hard to blame the heat wave on the El Nino because it's just starting and we are coming off of the La Nina. However, I have said for years that changes in the ocean temperatures can have almost instantaneous effects on global weather patterns. We see that on a smaller scale with how storms react to warm or cool ocean temperatures.

So, what's to blame for the heatwave and for that matter the warmth the past 12 months? It's a chicken and egg answer.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Henry Margusity
AccuWeather.com severe weather expert, Henry Margusity, offers the Meteorological Madness blog including detailed analysis of severe weather across the US.