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September 21st, 2011 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Suffering Los Niños

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Last winter, we endured greater-than-usual rainfall because it was a La Niña year. Now I’m hearing that this year will be more of the same. Where’s El Niño when you need him? Aren’t they supposed to take turns?

—Wet William 


Now, now, William; I know it’s easy to imagine that two consecutive years of excessive winter rains must be a sign that a sadistic God hates the Pacific Northwest. However, the judicious application of scientific reasoning clearly shows us that it’s Somalia that God really hates. Getting to drive us to suicide with an eternal chilly drizzle is just an added bonus.

Without going into too much stultifying detail, under La Niña conditions a portion of the Pacific gets cooler than usual, setting off a climatological Rube Goldberg device that, among other things, pushes winter storm systems approaching the West Coast northward. 

This rerouting of the “storm track” results in more rain for us and less for the Southern U.S., much of which, as you may recall, just burned to the ground in drought conditions aggravated by the 2010 La Niña. I doubt they’re looking forward to this new one any more than we are.

But before we start our characteristic American whining, we should note that La Niña also causes drier-than-usual conditions around the Horn of Africa, where, as most of us have barely noticed, there’s already a drought-exacerbated famine of biblical proportions going on.

Since the people in that part of the world are desperately poor, God just loves to fuck with them. So, even though it’s rare to see La Niña two years in a row, the opportunity for Him to smite the Somalis with another  drought was apparently too good to pass up. If we get drenched in the process, well, so much the better.


 
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