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El nino

March 2 2010 at 1:07 PM
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anonymous  (no login)

I am trying to understand el nino winters and the implications that it brings for the state of Idaho, especially in the mountains. Can you enlighten me a little on the subject? Snow levels expected in late spring, early summer, late summer, etc??

thanks

 
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Jim
(Login mccallboater)

El Nino and Idaho

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March 3 2010, 9:56 PM 

As simply as can be said, perhaps, is that there is no long term correlation on April 1 snowpack levels (the date that matters when keeping stats) for South Idaho watersheds when comparing El-Nino vs La Nina winters, using the past 80 or so years of snowpack and river runoff data. However, there is a weak positive (more snowpack water storage) correlation when one combines La Nina years with negative (cold) PDO years (Pacific Decadal Occilation). Likewise, a weak negative snowpack correlation comes with positive PDO and El Nino winters. Negative PDO and El Nino winters, like the one we are in, do not show statistically significant trends one way or the other. In other words, given our present collection of years of data, water forecasters can't predict one way or the other with confidence what the April 1 snowpack will be like in a year like this one. The current 1-3 month forecast calls for more dry weather based on El Nino water temperatures in the tropics, but the model reliability for these types of conditions is pretty lousy more than a week out. That's why one sees showers usually predicted a week or so out, since the models wither into climatology (what is normal this time of year). Then those showers don't show up.

North Idaho is a different story. El Nino years strongly correlate with dry winters, while La Nina years tend to be predictably wet. The Salmon river is a rough dividing line between the two regions. So predicting Payette snowpacks in a year like this one is about as accurate as flipping a coin.

How do I know any of this? I pull my data from the UW climate forecasting center, read the journal literature, and listen to my wife. She forecasts this stuff for a living.

My guess is you are more interesting in making turns than turning on your irrigation pumps. If the later, this year's outlook is better than one might think.

 
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i
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Re: El Nino and Idaho

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March 4 2010, 6:38 AM 

You listen to your wife? wink.gif

 
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Anonymous
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Re: El Nino and Idaho

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June 1 2010, 11:43 AM 

Guess they missed the boat in March when they predicted 1 to 3 more months of dry weather. It has been wet, cold, and windy ever since. Idiots!!!

2 to 3 months ago the morons at the fire center were barking about tinder dry forests and massive fires due to the low snowpack. Now they are preaching about the grass growing tall from so much rain this spring causing huge range fires this summer. They never seem to quit, always something to get their faces on the TV!

 
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splattski
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Re: El Nino and Idaho

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June 1 2010, 12:01 PM 

As Jim said, this type of weather pattern is very hard to predict. I think calling the weather folks "idiots" and "morons" might be a little harsh. I prefer calling them "weather guessers."
Instead of bitching, I find it a challenge to try to out-guess them. Sort of like trying to out-think the sagebrush wink.gif

 
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Geo
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Dust

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June 1 2010, 1:15 PM 

I've heard that water droplet formation is increased when more pollutants are present in the atmosphere. They probably didn't include that in their model... Eyjafjallajokull

-George

 
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Jim
(Login mccallboater)

Re: Dust

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June 2 2010, 5:53 PM 

Well, if that was the case, the areas directly downwind of the volcano would be the ones receiving the increased rainfall, not us. But that is not the case. No I would say connecting an Icelandic volcano ash cloud to S Idaho weather is a little iffy.

 
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anonymous
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Re: El Nino and Idaho

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June 4 2010, 11:48 AM 

"idiots"?? "morons"?? Take the name-calling and judgements somewhere else. Or learn something about statistics and modeling and do a better job yourself.

 
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