I have a sense of impending doom left as part of my post-traumatic stress from last winter’s 107 inches of snow in 30 days. I’ve bought a roof rake for the snow in the hopes of magically warding off winter.
But it is the end of December and winter has not come–we walked on the beach with bare feet on Christmas day. Should I feel guilty for enjoying the continued moderate temperatures that might be due to climate change?
Last year’s winter could be attributed to climate change which causes weather patterns to get stuck in a cycle like the cycle of large snow storms that continued to hit us. This year’s moderate weather is more likely impacted by an El Nino, a weather pattern also called the Southern Oscillation. An El Nino, named after the Christ child because it often happens around Christmas, begins in the equatorial Pacific in the region of Indonesia. Normally the low pressure in this area draws the winds toward it from the subtropics, driving equatorial ocean currents from the Americas toward the western Pacific. The west side of the Americas are left with relatively dry weather and cold currents that move from the poles toward the equator before they go west along the equator. The Baja of California is created by this dominant pattern.
When an El Nino occurs, the low pressure center diminishes, causing a faltering of the winds that drive the tropical currents to the west. The warm current backs up bringing unusually warm water to the west side of the Americas along with its associated torrential rains and warmer temperatures. This moderates the temperatures and winter in areas across North America.
My plants may be confused, but I’m going to just enjoy it while it lasts. I can take a Christmas on the beach, like everyone experiences in New Zealand, for one year. After all, next year we might have an El Nina–the opposite of an El Nino. But that is another story…