Friday, October 21, 2011

Late night

Interesting things happening in drought stricken Texas these days:
It was a very bad afternoon rush hour yesterday in the Texas Panhandle. A powerful cold front pushed through the state during the afternoon, and damaging north winds behind the front whipped up a dangerous dust storm that cut visibility to near-zero during the afternoon rush hour. Lubbock recorded sustained winds of 48 mph, gusting to 63 mph, with a visibility of 0.2 miles in heavy dust at 5:36 pm CDT. The dust storm was reminiscent of the great dust storms of the 1930s dust bowl era, and was due to the ongoing exceptional drought. Unfortunately, the front brought no rain to the area, and Lubbock has received just 3.16" of rain so far in 2011--more than 13.50" below average. In his Climate Abyss blog, Texas's state climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon, gives a 25% that the current drought will last five more years. He has an interesting post on how global warming may have affected the drought. He concludes:

Precipitation: The balance of evidence does not support the assertion that the rainfall deficit since October 2010 was made larger or more likely by global warming.

Temperature: Compared to long-term averages of summer temperature, the rainfall deficit accounted for about 4°F of excess heat and global warming accounted for about 1°F of excess heat. Warmer temperatures lead to greater water demand, faster evaporation, and greater drying-out of potential fuels for fire. Thus, the impacts of the drought were enhanced by global warming, much of which has been caused by man.
P.S. In Canada, that state climatologist guy wouldn't be allowed to have a blog or talk to the media. Progressive nation that we are.