Thursday, August 27, 2015

A History of Weather Patterns

I have been an observer of weather patterns for many years going back to my days at UC Irvine when friends of mine and I did a little weather study and challenged the local NBC affiliate and their anchor people Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel and Kelly Lang their weather person to a little contest.  We ended up winning the contest, having rather simplistic weather models as our guide.  Since that time there is a general concept that the United States has had some really bizarre weather patterns.  Since 1992 (the start of our current global cooling pattern) we have experienced some of the most costly hurricanes and winter storms of the century, worse flooding in the history of the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys, one of our coldest winters and record breaking heat and droughts in the west.  The question is, what is making the weather change?  Is our weather becoming actually wilder?  The answer, according to those in the know, is that the weather is not becoming wilder.  The charts, grafts and histories show that the USA has long lived with floods, hurricanes, tornados, dust storms, blinding winter storms and droughts.  Nothing we have experienced so far signals that a long term change is underway.  Usually the worse weather is spread over decades.  Sometimes however the worse weather is drilled into a few years.  The 1930s was such a time, followed by a long calm.  Perhaps it is because we have gone out of a calm, the relatively quiet 70s and 80s, that weather we currently are having seems so foreboding.  Also during those calmer times we forget about the lessons of harsh weather.  In known hurricane alleys we replace old fashioned beach houses with million dollar homes and after a flood people often rebuild in flood planes with the hope that floods like those of the past won’t happen in the future (take North Natomas for example.)  When the inevitable storm comes and destroys again the monetary damages can seem astronomical.  Many of us in the west think of “wet” years as being normal and normal years being considered dry.  Past weather records and other kinds of less direct evidence show that what people may consider a drought has occurred many times in the past sometimes lasting scores of years that may be actually normal weather.  A hurricane that hits an area that has not been hit in 20 or 30 years or floods exceed those of the past few years or drops in an area that has unusually wet years for several years people start thinking the weather must be getting worse.  But is it the weather or our ignorance of it? As we enter into our next wet season the forecast seemed to call for El Nino and substantially heavy weather patterns.  Hopefully, we are not ignorant of the potential for flooding and that our government officials will be very cautious about where they allow new housing to be built.  In the meantime, at our office when we did our remodeling almost 10 years ago we updated the building to withstand 140 mph winds and 8.2 earthquakes.  In addition when the building was first built the floor is actually 9 inches higher than the highest flood waters ever recorded in the city of Elk Grove going back to the 1850s 100 years before Folsom lake was built.  So I think we will be able to weather whatever storms mother nature decides to bring our way.  Hopefully you will be able to stay high and dry also and will not suffer the follies of the past.

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