December was not without extreme weather in many parts of the world. This past week has seen floods in South and North America, the UK and Ireland, worsening drought in southern Africa, wildfire in Australia and southern California, and unseasonally warm weather across the USA and Canada.
Worst floods in 50 years in South America
The BBC headline is "Flooding 'worst in 50 years', as 150,000 flee in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay". Rivers have broken banks after days of heavy rains.
Worsening drought in southern Africa
While the rain pelts down in South America, southern Africa is struggling with a worsening drought. The FAO has lowered its production outlook. The El Nino has meant drier conditions, which particularly affect small-scale producers who are entirely dependent on rainfall to sow their crops. Production was already low last year, leading to higher food prices, so food shortages are expected in 2016.
United Kingdom - warm and wet
The UK is likely to have it's mildest December on record. As at 24 December, the mean so far for December was 8.1 °C, which is 4.2 °C above the long-term average for the month. The previous record was in 1934, and was 6.9 °C.
Parts of the UK have also had record-breaking rainfall. Right now there are "nightmare" floods in much of York and Lancashire. The River Aire in Leeds has burst its banks and reportedly risen to the highest level ever recorded. This after the dreadful floods in Cumbria and elsewhere just a short while ago.
116 homes destroyed by fire in Australia, and crocodiles in floods
On the Great Ocean Road, a bushfire destroyed much of the small towns of Wye River and Separation Creek, with at least 116 homes burnt to the ground. The fire is said to have been caused by lightning, and came after some unusually hot Christmas weather. Even the seaside resort town of Lorne was evacuated at Christmas. The townships are on the Great Ocean Road, one of the wonders of the world and a favourite holiday destination over the summer months.
Meanwhile, up north in the Daly River floods, residents were warily watching out for crocodiles as they escaped to the highest ground around.
Winter wildfire in southern California
I understand that southern California can get wildfire all year around, but it still surprised me when I read that a major highway was closed and people evacuated because of a wildfire in Ventura County. It was said to have been caused by arcing power lines, and fanned by northerly winds.
A State of Emergency declarations for Missouri and New Mexico
In Missouri and New Mexico, USA, a State of Emergency has been declared. At least 43 people have reportedly died in the storms so far from floods and tornadoes lashing the US South, Southwest and Midwest. Weather reports warn of continued flooding rains, blizzards and tornadoes.
In Missouri eight people have died and 180 roads have been closed - due to widespread flooding. And there is more to come.
Warm in December for North America
December got some record-breaking warmth across much of the USA and Canada. Toronto had the warmest Christmas Eve on record. South Florida is calling a heat wave.
Christmas 2015 = WARM Mrs. Claus better make Santa a suit with shorts and cutoff sleeves. pic.twitter.com/OD2MDvjeDJ— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 22, 2015
What is causing the weather extremes?
Some of the weather is being attributed to this super El Nino, one of the four biggest El Ninos of the past 65 years. It's come on the back of the relentless global warming. As John Vidal in the Irish Times reports:
From some of the worst floods ever known in Britain, to record-breaking temperatures over the Christmas holiday in the US and forest fires in Australia, tumultuous recent weather events are likely to be down to the natural phenomenon known as El Niño making the effects of man-made climate change worse, say atmospheric scientists.
That's probably why you don't read much about the weather on climate conspiracy blogs. Science denying blogs like WUWT (supposedly run by an ex-weather forecaster) cannot reconcile the weather with their current claims of global cooling, so they ignore it altogether.