Where does the winter of 1992-1993 fit?

 Climate, Northern Arizona Weather, Pontification  Comments Off on Where does the winter of 1992-1993 fit?
Sep 192015

The start of next week may be very wet! Also, the 1 and 3-month outlooks are wet. Just so you know.

But, after posting a link on Facebook to Scientific American article (How This Year’s El Niño Compares with the Past), I got a challenging question from MN about the winter of 1992-1993. In deed, this was probably one of the wettest winters in the last 60ish years. In December of 1992, Flagstaff received 6.78 inches of liquid water precipitation. In January and February of 1993, Flagstaff received 9.55 and 10.05 inches of precipitation. Also, these months were part of a longer term wet period. In the 12 months before the end of February 1993, Flagstaff reached over 48 inches of water. That more than double our typical one year normal. This peak is clear in the chart below.

12-month and 2-year Flagstaff precipitation totals.

12-month and 2-year Flagstaff precipitation totals.

It looks like the winter of 1992-1993 must have been an El Niño year. In 3 months, about 27 inches of water. Must have been….

The winter of 1992-1993 was not a El Niño winter. But, it overwhelmingly surpassed the so-called Great El Niño of 1997-1998. It was about as close to La Nada, neither El Niño or La Niña, as it could get.

Maybe because of my recent readings, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) came to my mind. This is a very long-term change in Atlantic Ocean temperatures. I covered it a bit in my last post. With neutral Pacific conditions, perhaps the AMO was in the driver’s seat.

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation Index. (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/timeseries/AMO/)

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation Index. (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/timeseries/AMO/)

The AMO went from nearly positive to considerably negative in the time leading up to that winter. So, I think at least from a non-expert, looking at a couple of charts point-of-view, the Atlantic could have been an important factor in the winter of 1992-1993 for Flagstaff.

Also, notice that was the last hurrah for wet conditions. After that winter, the AMO started to switch to a persistent positive mode. From my last post, there is a linkage between positive AMO conditions and drier conditions for the American Southwest.

One more note. Many of the people who are my age and grew up in Flagstaff in the late 1960s through the early 1990s, have a profound impression of Flagstaff having been much wetter growing up. On the other hand, some of the people who grew up before that time frame, seem to remember a drier time that was more like today. Completely anecdotal, but interesting.

 Posted by at 12:02 pm

Laziness based on lack of clarity

 Northern Arizona Weather, Pontification  Comments Off on Laziness based on lack of clarity
Jan 072014

Teams without a clear mission will often become lazy. Bloggers without clear computer models will often become lazy.

I taunted everyone last Friday with a potential storm for the end of this week. Each time I check the computer models that I rely on, I see something different. This morning, we are back in the highly unlikely mode. Last night, things were looking highly likely mode. The outlook just keeps bouncing around.

I think these the occurrence of a cut-off low in our area is causing these changes. These are very difficult to predict. Occurrence, timing and amounts seems to fool the computers. I believe it is one of the last big challenges for our computer models.

So, let’s look at some nonsensical, but often very accurate, reliable indicators.

  • I drove my white car back from Phoenix to Flagstaff yesterday. My white car is rear wheel drive. So, I don’t like it to drive it in the snow. I plan to drive it back to Phoenix on Thursday or Friday. This is an indicator for some snow. A couple of inches at least.
  • My friend Nicky S. from the UK called me yesterday to let me know she will be in town. She will drive to Flagstaff on Thursday. This is normally a strong indicator for snow. Unfortunately, she rented a 4-wheel drive car. This is a detractor. Fortunately, Nicky has a good heart and wants to ski this weekend. In the balance, I figure that is worth  a few inches in town and more on the mountain.
  • I believe I will wash one of my cars tonight or tomorrow. Another great way to make it snow.

If everyone does their part and washes their car, which is still dirty from the last storm, this will have a profound effect. Either you will proudly drive your clean car around town this weekend, or you will watch it get dirty with snow on Thursday and Friday. Either way, it’s a win. I urge everyone to avoid activities like stocking up on wood near your fireplace or wood stove. These activities would cut the chances of snow.


 Posted by at 6:56 am
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