Strange Weather Patterns this Winter
As displayed by this graph provided by the U.S. Drought Patrol, California has been in a drought for the majority of the past seven years. On the graph, the dryness of each year is measured on a scale starting at the “D0” level of “abnormal dryness”, and ending at the “D4” level of “exceptional drought”. As of recently, California has emerged from this arid spell: after a large storm in mid- to late February traveled to the Pacific coast, enormous amounts of rain and snow showered the state for nearly three weeks. In fact, on Valentine’s Day, the National Weather Service in San Diego reported that seven California cities received record amounts of precipitation. Now, only 10.5 percent of the state is currently at the “D0” level of dryness and 2.3 percent of the state is at the “D1” stage of “minor drought”.
California was not the only state to receive shocking amounts of downfall this year; forty-three states across America have experienced record-breaking levels of precipitation. Many believe that this unusual weather was caused by this year’s moderate El Niño; El Niño is a mysterious phenomenon characterized by an upwelling of water which travels from the West to the East Pacific. The warm band of ocean water brought by El Niño leads to ample rain falls and other ecological activities which affect the marine environment.
While the El Niño likely contributed to this year’s high precipitation levels, it has secondly been suspected that global warming was the leading cause of this year’s downpours. As global warming occurs and temperatures rise worldwide, unexpected weather patterns will more frequently occur.
Lastly, many believe that a recent polar vortex led to this year’s downpours. Polar vortices are low-pressure areas with cold and fast winds surrounding their centers. They are located about ten miles above the ground and exist in polar regions during the winter. During late January and early February, this year’s polar vortex brought uncommonly low temperatures and higher levels of precipitation in the Midwest. In fact, Wisconsin experienced temperatures as low as negative thirty-one degrees Fahrenheit.
Due to these harsh weather conditions, millions of Americans have had to adjust their daily activities and plans. Here at Santa Catalina School, boarding students have been required to stay on campus after weather advisories have warned of the potential dangers posed by storm-tossed, falling trees. Around the country, flights have had to be derailed, canceled, or delayed. Additionally, farms have been affected as livestock have had to be moved to heated areas. This past winter was much different than usual, bringing storms and odd weather across the country.