Things on my ‘Love’ list include, women, markets and weather. Maybe I’m drawn to these because they are all unpredictable. I hope I never get to the point where women become predictable (no fun in that). I know that markets will always produce surprises (US ten-year at 1.8%, while GDP hits 5%?….And things like the SNB fail). And it brings me a bit of pleasure to see that the best and brightest weather folks actually don’t have a clue what will happen next.
I follow what the scientists are reporting for ENSO values on a weekly basis. ENSO is a numerical index that establishes if the Pacific Ocean is either in El Nino, or La Nina conditions. Basically, if the number is high, we have El Nino, if it is low, La Nina conditions exist. There is a zone in the middle where neither condition exists.
The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology publishes data every other week. The US equivalent, NOAA, has a similar release. Last July almost all of the deep thinkers (and their computers) were anticipating that we would be experiencing El Nino conditions today. From NOAA:
In October, 2014 NOAA was stilling hanging its hat with a forecast that an El Nino was right around the corner:
Sorry computers, it did not happen. As of Monday the Aussies have thrown in the towel. There will be no El Nino during the winter of 2015:
Does it matter if there is to be no El Nino? It matters a great deal to 50+ million people. El Nino brings rain to the US Pacific South, La Nina brings drought conditions:
For a few weeks in December the ENSO numbers got above the level where El Nino conditions start to be felt (but not for the 3 months of average data required for an ‘official’ El Nin0). Guess what happened? It rained like crazy!
But today the ENSO numbers are back below El Nino thresholds. Guess What? It stopped raining out west.
The US West will survive another year of drought. It will be tough on agriculture, but, for the most part, residents will have uninterrupted supplies of potable water. But that is not the case in Brazil. The ENSO cycle has the same consequence on parts of Brazil as it does in the US West. The State of Sao Paulo is now in severe drought. The shortage of water is becoming acute. The availability of water for food production, hydro power, cooking, bathing and sanitary use is now at risk. Twenty million people are facing a very real problem:
January is the rainy season for this part of Brazil. That has not been the case so far in 2015:
11 million people live in the city of Sao Paulo, 44 million live in the State of Sao Paulo. Los Angeles has a population of 11 million, The State of California has 38 million. The State of Sao Paulo is 1/3 of Brazil’s GDP – about $3/4 Trillion.
Either it rains in Brazil – soon – or there will be big problems in six-months.
Note: Periods where ENSO readings are Negative/Neutral (no rain) are common. The duration of the cycles drives the extremes. NOAA has data back to 1950 (El Nino is as old as the oceans). There are periods where there was no El Nino for four consecutive years – 1959-63, 1978-82, 1998 -2002. The last El Nino was in 2010. This means that the current No Nino period will extend well into its 5th year. Have we passed the tipping point for Brazil? We’ll know in a few months.
City of Sao Paulo